Saturday, November 1, 2014

Number 2: Celtic Spirituality, Classics of Western Spirituality

My number two book on Celtic Christianity is "Celtic Spirituality" (1999) from the Classics of Western Spirituality series.

The book provides a fantastic overview of the key Celtic texts and sources-no small task! This book literally has it all! It's a one stop shop of original texts which also includes an excellent essay introducing Celtic Spirituality. The latter alone is worth the price of the book. The work is a collaboration of Celtic scholars James Mackey, Oliver Davies and Thomas O'Loughlin. And with these heavy hitters, the book delivers.

"Celtic Spirituality" is neatly divided into several sections, highlighting different aspects of the rich and varied Celtic tradition. It's a Celtic smorgasbord (forgive the close reference to those damned Vikings) so the reader never gets bored. The hagiography section introduces the reader to the traditions of Patrick, Brigit, Brendan, David, Beuno, and Melangell. Great stories and wonderful people! Then the book turns to key monastic texts such as the Preface of Gildas on Penance, the Penitential of Cummean, and the Rule for Monks by Columbanus. Here, you will learn just how rigorous and strict the Celtic rule was and how much a Christian spiritual tradition of the past actually cost people (in a worldly sense). Another section includes a wide range of Irish and Welsh poetry. There are also devotional texts, liturgies, apocrypha, exegesis and homilies. The theology section includes writings by Pelagius, Columba and John Scottus Eriugena.

The collection of texts is breathtaking and magnificent! For Celtic lovers this volume is a keeper and not to be missed. There is so much "good stuff" inside, you will find yourself returning to "Celtic Spirituality" again and again with joy and delight. If you could only have one volume on Celtic Christianity and spirituality on your bookshelf, this may well be the one. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Celtic things.

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