The rich and diverse collection of texts newly translated from Latin, Irish and Welsh marks a landmark in the study of Celtic Christianity. In these pages we find saints' lives, sermons, liturgy, monastic rules, penitentials and exegesis as well as devotional texts, poems and works of theology. The effect is to create a sense of a Christian civilization that is deeply life-affirming, imbued with a pervasive sense of divine presence and wonderfully at ease with itself.
The history of the texts is outlined in the introduction, as is the early history of Christianity among the Celtic peoples. Oliver Davies offers the reader an authoritative though accessible discussion of the complexities of the term Celtic and the debate surrounding the existence of a distinctively Celtic kind of Christianity resulting from an original interaction between Celtic primal religionsand the missionary Christianity of the ancient world. He highlights in particular the place of the body in defining the human, the privileging of creativity in poetry and art, the production of empowering images of women and an emphasis upon nature as an autonomous sphere caught up int he drama of the relation between humantiy and God.
At various times in Christian history, Celtic Christian texts have been applauded by different denominations as representing a valuable alternative to later currents in Christianity, and for many today Celtic Christianity remains an intriguing 'other.' As products of a time and place very different from our own, the wide range of texts in this volume open up worlds for the contemporary reader which have a freshness and an immediacy that will unfailingly provoke, challenge and fascinate.