Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Life and Writings of the Historical Saint Patrick

In The Life and Writings of the Historical Saint Patrick, R. P. C. Hanson has written a detailed, historical Introduction. He has also translated and commented upon the two existing works, The Letter to Coroticus and The Confession, composed by St. Patrick himself.

In the three-part Introduction, Hanson puts St. Patrick's writings in context so a reader can more easily understand the era during which Patrick lived, the importance of his work, and the man himself.  The Letter to Coroticus and The Confession at times speak clearly and at others, a reader wonders about Patrick's meaning.  Hanson's commentaries fill in more historical background of the times, events in Patrick's life, and aspects of Patrick's personality to assist the reader in comprehending the two surviving written documents.

I had read The Letter to Coroticus and The Confession before without commentary.  Much of the writing is straight-forward;  however, the overall context in which Patrick wrote was missing.  Thus, I missed much of the meaning behind the words.  For anyone interested in finding out who St. Patrick really was, as opposed to the legends about him, I recommend reading the two works without comments first, decipher what's possible, and then read them again with contextual commentaries.  R. P. C. Hanson knows what he is talking about as an expert on the history of the Celtic church, as Professor of Theology at the University of Manchester, and as Assistant Bishop of Manchester (at the time of publication).

Title:  The Life and Writings of the Historical Saint Patrick
Primary Source Author: Saint Patrick
Author of Introduction and Translater:  R. P. C. Hanson
Publisher:  The Seabury Press
Copyright: 1983
ISBN #:  0-8164-0523-9

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