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The Secret Gospel of Ireland: The Untold Story of How Science and Democracy Descended from a Remarkable Form of Christianity That Developed in Ancient Ireland

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As the light of their empire faded into history, the ancient Romans made one last-ditch effort to plant the seed of their civilization in a foreign land—they launched a mission to bring Christianity to Ireland. And there, on a little Emerald Isle that had never been conquered and occupied by Rome, something extraordinary happened. In the process of converting from paganism As the light of their empire faded into history, the ancient Romans made one last-ditch effort to plant the seed of their civilization in a foreign land—they launched a mission to bring Christianity to Ireland. And there, on a little Emerald Isle that had never been conquered and occupied by Rome, something extraordinary happened. In the process of converting from paganism to Christianity, the ancient Irish developed a remarkable approach to the Christian faith that would one day make science, democracy, and our modern world possible. In this joyous and illuminating journey through more than ten centuries of history, James and Leo Behan follow the astonishing story of how the holy men of Ireland shepherded the West from antiquity to the modern era. With their powerful brand of Irish Christianity, the monks of Ireland transformed Europe and produced the key that would ultimately unlock the awesome potential of the Christian faith. Sure to intrigue, entertain, transform, and capture the imagination, The Secret Gospel of Ireland lifts the veil that has for so long separated science and democracy from their Christian roots in ancient Ireland. More than a book, it is a revelation in which history, philosophy, and theology come together to show how our civilization floats in a sea of faith that was born on the Emerald Isle centuries ago. James Behan is a graduate of Harvard Law School and holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a lawyer who specializes in international business transactions and has practiced law in cities throughout the United States and abroad, including New York, Tokyo, Palo Alto, and Chicago. He possesses a deep interest in the relationship between science and religion, as well as a passion for golf, which he enjoys sharing with his wife and family. Leo Behan is a graduate of Boston College Law School and holds a degree in history from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a lawyer and a military veteran, having served in the United States Air Force JAG Corps. He is passionate about history and philosophy, as well as classical guitar. James and Leo are brothers who originally hail from the San Francisco Bay Area. They have inherited their love of Ireland and the Irish from their father, who immigrated to America from Ireland many years ago.


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As the light of their empire faded into history, the ancient Romans made one last-ditch effort to plant the seed of their civilization in a foreign land—they launched a mission to bring Christianity to Ireland. And there, on a little Emerald Isle that had never been conquered and occupied by Rome, something extraordinary happened. In the process of converting from paganism As the light of their empire faded into history, the ancient Romans made one last-ditch effort to plant the seed of their civilization in a foreign land—they launched a mission to bring Christianity to Ireland. And there, on a little Emerald Isle that had never been conquered and occupied by Rome, something extraordinary happened. In the process of converting from paganism to Christianity, the ancient Irish developed a remarkable approach to the Christian faith that would one day make science, democracy, and our modern world possible. In this joyous and illuminating journey through more than ten centuries of history, James and Leo Behan follow the astonishing story of how the holy men of Ireland shepherded the West from antiquity to the modern era. With their powerful brand of Irish Christianity, the monks of Ireland transformed Europe and produced the key that would ultimately unlock the awesome potential of the Christian faith. Sure to intrigue, entertain, transform, and capture the imagination, The Secret Gospel of Ireland lifts the veil that has for so long separated science and democracy from their Christian roots in ancient Ireland. More than a book, it is a revelation in which history, philosophy, and theology come together to show how our civilization floats in a sea of faith that was born on the Emerald Isle centuries ago. James Behan is a graduate of Harvard Law School and holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a lawyer who specializes in international business transactions and has practiced law in cities throughout the United States and abroad, including New York, Tokyo, Palo Alto, and Chicago. He possesses a deep interest in the relationship between science and religion, as well as a passion for golf, which he enjoys sharing with his wife and family. Leo Behan is a graduate of Boston College Law School and holds a degree in history from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a lawyer and a military veteran, having served in the United States Air Force JAG Corps. He is passionate about history and philosophy, as well as classical guitar. James and Leo are brothers who originally hail from the San Francisco Bay Area. They have inherited their love of Ireland and the Irish from their father, who immigrated to America from Ireland many years ago.

30 review for The Secret Gospel of Ireland: The Untold Story of How Science and Democracy Descended from a Remarkable Form of Christianity That Developed in Ancient Ireland

  1. 5 out of 5

    Henk-Jan van der Klis

    In The Secret Gospel of Ireland, brothers James & Leo Beham shed light on the special role the Emerald Island played in the development and spread of Christianity in both Europe and America. Many celebrate St. Patrick’s Day each year, but only a few know the backgrounds. St. Patrick, born as a slave in nowadays northern Africa lived in the final years of the Roman Empire. The ancient Romans never conquered Ireland, Patrick sailed to Ireland and planted the gospel there. In the process of convert In The Secret Gospel of Ireland, brothers James & Leo Beham shed light on the special role the Emerald Island played in the development and spread of Christianity in both Europe and America. Many celebrate St. Patrick’s Day each year, but only a few know the backgrounds. St. Patrick, born as a slave in nowadays northern Africa lived in the final years of the Roman Empire. The ancient Romans never conquered Ireland, Patrick sailed to Ireland and planted the gospel there. In the process of converting from paganism to Christianity, the ancient Irish developed a remarkable approach to the Christian faith that would one day make science, democracy, and our modern world possible. They resisted to place earthly kings to head the church. Irish monks began pouring out of Ireland to build monasteries throughout Western Europe. Lindisfarne and Iona were famous outposts for further spreading the gospel. Monasteries included schools, hospitals and became the primary social institution in Western Europe during the so-called Dark Ages. They led to the creation of Europe’s first universities at Bologna, Paris, and Oxford. And the Irish monks invented lower case letters (which was called Carolingian minuscule). These developments in culture, education, government, and writing would eventually lead to the development of our modern world., including modern science and democracy. In The Secret Gospel of Ireland there’s a lot of attention to Middle Ages history. You meet several church fathers like Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas and reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli up to Thomas Jefferson and the foundations of modern era European countries and the United States of America. Thanks to St. Patrick.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    One of the things which some people here in India love to tell me is that: 'your Christianity is only two thousand years old, while our Hinduism is over five thousand years old'. As if Hinduism, being more ancient, somehow has more legitimacy than the Christian faith. So the first thing I always say when I hear something like that is that the roots of Christianity reach further back than two thousand years until the beginnings of mankind. The Old Testament which traces the history of mankind's f One of the things which some people here in India love to tell me is that: 'your Christianity is only two thousand years old, while our Hinduism is over five thousand years old'. As if Hinduism, being more ancient, somehow has more legitimacy than the Christian faith. So the first thing I always say when I hear something like that is that the roots of Christianity reach further back than two thousand years until the beginnings of mankind. The Old Testament which traces the history of mankind's fall and God's gathering of the Children of Israel to be His people goes back into the mists of time and if age validates religion, then the Judaeo-Christian faith would not be found wanting. However, I'm not in competition with anyone to prove 'my' faith is better than theirs. I've heard the message of Jesus Christ and I believe in it. Amen. The life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ was the culmination of God's promises to his Chosen People throughout Old Testament times. When the Saviour was born and made the ultimate Sacrifice, all the promises of the Old Testament were fulfilled. The first followers of Christ ('Christians' as they became known) were in fact members of the Israelite (Jewish) community. But that community, as a whole, did not accept Jesus as the promised Messiah (Saviour) even though there are Jewish followers of Jesus today, known as Messianic Jews. The early Christians, being Jewish or Greek converts to Judaism, simply explained the Christian message in terms of the Jewish/Israelite vision, that man disobeyed God and fell from grace. God made a Covenant with Israel and promised to send a Saviour. They accepted that message and were absorbed into the early Church, which is the collective term for Christians. Eventually, Christianity spread its influence and after time, became the official religion of the Roman Empire. There were many new followers to the faith but most of these would not understand the Christian message in Jewish terms. As the message of Christ spread, people, through ignorance of the Scriptures, didn't even properly comprehend the faith, nor what it really meant. Christianity became just another religion with rules and regulations. Astonishing, considering the fact that Jesus Christ Himself detested religion with it's trappings of rules, regulations and hypocrisy. The Word of God was falling on thin soil indeed. Not to mention the fact that Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity separated from each other. This book THE SECRET GOSPEL OF IRELAND, traces the history of the Christian faith from its obscure beginnings. In clear, layman's language, it shows us how an African man named Augustine went from being what Christians would have considered as a sinner to one of the greatest saints of his time. He shows us how Augustinian thought shaped Christian theology. I'm afraid I'm not overly impressed by Augustine nor his mother Monica. My local priest often pointed out my similarity with Monica in the sense that I'm married to a man of another faith and mentioned that thanks to Monica's prayers her husband and son ultimately adopted Christianity. I'm appalled by Monica's handling of Augustine's life. Augustine had a concubine, an African woman who bore him a son. That woman followed him faithfully from Africa to Italy. Yet Monica cruelly dismissed her from Augustine's life. Augustine, who was of quite a mature age, sadly bade his concubine goodbye, keeping their son with him and agreed to marry a young girl his mother had chosen, who was yet not old enough to marry. I find St. Monica's behaviour most inhuman and unChristian. Ultimately, Augutine didn't marry the young lady, choosing to become a priest instead. As the body of theological knowledge grew, the Christian faith spread to beyond the borders of the Roman Empire. That's where Ireland comes in. When St. Patrick brought Christianity to the remote island of Ireland, Ireland adopted a great monastic tradition, which had actually spread that far from the Egyptian desert. The Irish monasteries were universities of knowledge and the Irish took to Christianity and learning like ducks take to water. Ireland's location on the remote outskirts of Europe may have cut it off from mainland Europe, but their Christianity, their knowledge of Augustine's theology and their Latin was infinitely superior even to that of Rome. In time Irish missionaries were going out to Europe, spreading Christianity throughout the continent. Apparently, one of the great contributions of Irih monks to Christianity was their emphasis on penance and good works to bring one closer to God. The Irish stood out among European Christians because their tonsure was distinctive and different. Also, they celebrated Easter at different times, which was later brought into line with that of the Roman Church. This book is basically a short history of Christianity, from its inception to the present day, with special emphasis on the role the Irish monks played in the Church as a whole. The language is accessible and iteh book reads like a rather interesting article - you don't feel you're reading a book at all. One of the things I found slightly irritating was that it kept on referring to the Church in pre-Reformation days as 'the Roman Catholic Church', which it wasn't, well not yet anyway. It tells us of St. Thomas Aquinas and Erasmus and their role in shaping Catholic thought. It gives a clear account of how Martin Luther began a crusade against the abuses of the system of selling indulgences and ended up leading the Reformation in western Christianity. This story doesn't have a lot to do with Ireland, but it makes enjoyable reading. Ireland has always had a symbiotic relationship with the Romanc Catholic Church, a relationship which has, incidentally, shaped our national identity in many ways, although that statement may not please the minority community of Irish Protestants. Ireland is currently trying to escape it's Catholic identity, it seems. The words 'Ireland is a Catholic country' resounded around the world recently and almost convicted us of bigotry and racial discrimination, even though the words were a well meant way to describe why Ireland in general has always followed the pro-life ethos. People interested in Irish history, lay people and students alike, as well as people interested in reading about Church history, would find this book fascinating. As the authors declare in their summing up: It started as a vision of heaven, infinite and eternal, in the mind of an African bishop who didn't know peace until he rested in God. Soon, however, the Word became flesh as the monks of Ireland endeavored to imitate Christ in body and mind. They built monasteries and schools and hospitals. They cared for the sick, comforted the poor, and educated countless generations. They did penance and followed Christ from earth to heaven, bringing forth an esthetic transformation of the Western mind that changed the world. They built a civilization like the sculptor who toils in silence to give voice to a stone. We wear their legacy like a halo. And even if many people today don't believe in God or Jesus Christ, we are free because they did. Somewhere the Irish monks are smiling.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Coleen Dailey

    This book provided an overview of Christianity in Ireland and England and how some of the Irish version became main stream in the Catholic Church. I had read other books along this line including Thomas Cahill's How the Irish saved civilization and have enjoyed each one. I would recommend this to anyone interested in church history. This book provided an overview of Christianity in Ireland and England and how some of the Irish version became main stream in the Catholic Church. I had read other books along this line including Thomas Cahill's How the Irish saved civilization and have enjoyed each one. I would recommend this to anyone interested in church history.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joy Matteson

    This book was written by two lawyers, Irish in ancestry, who have traced modern democracy and science as stemming from the golden age of Irish Christianity. As a former historical theology major and current librarian, I knew I needed to read this book. My senior thesis was on the role of St. Patrick and the Golden Age of Ireland (about 5th century to 8th century A.D.), and it's true what the Mr. Behans have to say in this--there was something very unique about early Irish Christianity. It was sh This book was written by two lawyers, Irish in ancestry, who have traced modern democracy and science as stemming from the golden age of Irish Christianity. As a former historical theology major and current librarian, I knew I needed to read this book. My senior thesis was on the role of St. Patrick and the Golden Age of Ireland (about 5th century to 8th century A.D.), and it's true what the Mr. Behans have to say in this--there was something very unique about early Irish Christianity. It was sheltered from the crazy Roman politics of its day, and monasticism and scholasticism ruled in happy union, even educating the Irish masses. And yes, the Irish monks even got to go to Charlemagne to present their beautiful manuscripts as the rest of Europe was mired in the mostly illiterate Middle Ages. And yet...As I was reading this book, I was wrestling how to rate it, because it kinda drove me crazy in some parts. For one...calling Augustine a sex addict? I understand this book is for the masses, so no footnotes or bibliography is found here, but waiving around psychological/clinical terms like 'sex addict' because Augustine honestly admitted in his Confessions that he had trouble with lust is a far cry from calling him a sex addict, which is a serious addiction, and one that has no basis in fact. For two, and a little more minor, so excuse the nitpicking here--it's technically incorrect to call the bishop of Rome before the 12th century the 'pope', because that title did not exist before then. For three, it was hard for me to differentiate between when the authors were speaking of a legend or historical fact. For instance, many of the tales of Columba and Columbanus we have almost no historical record on, except in hagiographical accounts (which are stories that have a moral meaning, not necessarily written for truth-finding). And yet the authors seem to weave in both legend and historical record interchangeably, which is charming to read, and yet unfortunately may be misleading. In general, though, this book is quite fascinating. I love when someone is able to draw out the mysteries of ancient Irish Christianity and put it in the public eye--we do owe a great debt to the Irish monks who preserved many Scriptural texts for our benefit today. Will I recommend it for people at my church? Sure. But personally, the book's inaccuracies were a bit distracting.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    The Secret Gospel of Ireland is a wealth of information about how Catholic theology and philosophy combined with Ireland's early laws and love of learning led to the great ideas of Western civilisation. For example, early Christianity resulted in the Law of Adomnan which prohibited violence against women, children, and churches during warfare. Catholic doctrine about penance and confession and Saint Augustine's ideas of heaven were just some of the important doctrines which set the world on fire The Secret Gospel of Ireland is a wealth of information about how Catholic theology and philosophy combined with Ireland's early laws and love of learning led to the great ideas of Western civilisation. For example, early Christianity resulted in the Law of Adomnan which prohibited violence against women, children, and churches during warfare. Catholic doctrine about penance and confession and Saint Augustine's ideas of heaven were just some of the important doctrines which set the world on fire, according to the authors. Irish monasteries played an essential role in preserving Greek and Roman learning, and the monks set up schools which resulted in the founding of the great universities. The problem is that there is so much information in the book that it gets a bit tiring and difficult to absorb at times. It's really necessary to buy it in paperback form, rather than an Ebook, if you're not used to Ebooks. Otherwise, it becomes hard to absorb. Behan and Behan imbue the book with lots of myths and legends. I really enjoyed these more than the rest of the book, I think. I especially liked the story of St. Aquinas fighting off a prostitute. When his wealthy family discovered that he wanted to join the Dominicans, they kidnapped him and took him to their castle in Italy. His brothers sent a prostitute to his room to tempt it. Thomas drove the woman from the room with a firebrand, and burned the sign of the cross in the wooden door to protect him from further temptation. Later that night two angels promised him a life free from carnal desire and lust. This is an excellent book to read if you want to learn about the importance of Catholic doctrine and Irish learning to the West.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mathew

    I love a bit of history mixed with theology. The Secret Gospel of Ireland examines a sliver of church history tracing the vein of theology which impacts Christianity in Ireland and then explores how Irish Christianity impacts Europe. One aspect that I truly appreciate is the careful handling of the Medieval period. The Behans say, And perhaps most cynically, it was a time of bondage to the gloom and superstition of religious belief: a time before science and reason liberated the West from blind f I love a bit of history mixed with theology. The Secret Gospel of Ireland examines a sliver of church history tracing the vein of theology which impacts Christianity in Ireland and then explores how Irish Christianity impacts Europe. One aspect that I truly appreciate is the careful handling of the Medieval period. The Behans say, And perhaps most cynically, it was a time of bondage to the gloom and superstition of religious belief: a time before science and reason liberated the West from blind faith, the fetters of ignorance, and those who would seek to exploit faith and ignorance for wealth and power. Or was it? (p. 7) They also don’t neglect the impact Christianity played in the development of Europe (p. 9). What will interest many of the readers here will be the focus on life and theology of Augustine. They trace the development of the gospel in Ireland back to him. If you’re unfamiliar with his life story and basic theology then this will provide a concise introduction. If you’re interested in Irish history or the theology of Augustine then I would recommend picking up The Secret Gospel of Ireland. It will engage you. It’s a book that could be read by just about anyone. The writing is extremely approachable. My only quip would be that I wonder if there may be conflation especially in the description of Augustine as Roman Catholic (talk of mass and popes in the 300 AD seems a bit early).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    I thought this book was brilliant. The authors presented a fresh and original theory of history wrapped inside of a very entertaining story. Moreover, they brought the history from ancient Rome into the Renaissance and modern age, making a compelling case for how science and democracy evolved from a long history of theology and philosophy. I like histories like this one because they give the big picture. That’s not something you get in school or other books, where often the focus is on a particul I thought this book was brilliant. The authors presented a fresh and original theory of history wrapped inside of a very entertaining story. Moreover, they brought the history from ancient Rome into the Renaissance and modern age, making a compelling case for how science and democracy evolved from a long history of theology and philosophy. I like histories like this one because they give the big picture. That’s not something you get in school or other books, where often the focus is on a particular time or a single event. I also liked this book because I didn’t need to have any special background to understand it. Many of the figures covered in the book—St. Augustine, St. Patrick, Columbanus, Eriugena, Thomas Aquinas, Leonardo da Vinci, and Martin Luther, just to name a few—were familiar to me. I had heard their names before. But I didn't really know what they did or why they were important. To that end, the authors did a superb job of telling their stories and of connecting their ideas to their actual lives. Usually, the philosophical and theological ideas that helped make our world are presented as a lot of abstract navel gazing. But here, the authors did a terrific job of showing that great ideas were often the solutions to real human problems. I’m glad I read it and you will be too.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wayne McCoy

    An excellent and very readable history of the early church that shows how democracy and much scientific knowledge can be traced back to the early church in Ireland. I've read other books on the subject, but none that have done such a great job of distilling the information into a larger picture. The book begins in 354 AD with the birth of Augustine. Woven along the timeline are Saint Patrick, John Cassian, Columbanus, John Scotus Eriugena, Thomas Aquinas, Charlemagne, William of Ockham, Aristotl An excellent and very readable history of the early church that shows how democracy and much scientific knowledge can be traced back to the early church in Ireland. I've read other books on the subject, but none that have done such a great job of distilling the information into a larger picture. The book begins in 354 AD with the birth of Augustine. Woven along the timeline are Saint Patrick, John Cassian, Columbanus, John Scotus Eriugena, Thomas Aquinas, Charlemagne, William of Ockham, Aristotle, Martin Luther, and John Calvin (among others). There are fights with kings (my favorite chapter dealt with the Merovingian and Carolingian rulers), there are fights with church leaders, and there are discoveries to be made that transformed art, science and government. The book concludes around 1705 AD. For a book of 235 pages, this book covers a lot of territory, but it never feels skimped on or sparse. The richness of detail is impressive and very accessible and readable. The suggested reading list in the back is one of the best I've ever seen. Not because it's comprehensive, but because the authors give suggestions on what to read next, not just provide an ambiguous bibliography.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Johnplavelle

    I had previously read How the Irish Saved Civilization and thought that it was amazing. This book is superior and stands alone as the most amazing book on how the western world was developed. The two brothers who authored this book surely are most proud of their heritage and after reading this all Irish should find pride also. The concept that learning and thought were so closely associated with the monasteries of Ireland and that they spread throughout Western Europe during the dark ages by vir I had previously read How the Irish Saved Civilization and thought that it was amazing. This book is superior and stands alone as the most amazing book on how the western world was developed. The two brothers who authored this book surely are most proud of their heritage and after reading this all Irish should find pride also. The concept that learning and thought were so closely associated with the monasteries of Ireland and that they spread throughout Western Europe during the dark ages by virtue of the monks that left Ireland to educate and evangelize is one that is familiar to many. The connections to the many changes in the Catholic Church and in the political make up of Europe that was caused by this learning and evangelization is well explained and documented. The emerald isle stands alone as the main force in the development of Western Europe as well as the modern day faith of the Roman Catholic church. This book will make the reader think deeply about the owrld we live in today and the ways in which that world evolved. A well written and thought provoking book that I highly recommend.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Somewhat of a misnomer but an interesting read nonetheless. This is less about Ireland than it is a tracing of Christian ideas via thumbnail biographies of several of the greatest thinkers and theologians of the Dark Ages. About the first quarter of the book is devoted to Augustine, and how his combat against Pelagianism set the stage for doctrinal development. Next the authors show how the Catholic Church's mission to Ireland (virtually the only known land that was neither Roman nor Christian) Somewhat of a misnomer but an interesting read nonetheless. This is less about Ireland than it is a tracing of Christian ideas via thumbnail biographies of several of the greatest thinkers and theologians of the Dark Ages. About the first quarter of the book is devoted to Augustine, and how his combat against Pelagianism set the stage for doctrinal development. Next the authors show how the Catholic Church's mission to Ireland (virtually the only known land that was neither Roman nor Christian) helped establish the Church's authority, and how the Irish monastic tradition both preserved learning and established the practice of frequent, individual confession and penance. The authors go on to describe the impact of Columba, Patrick, Columbana, and others. A good choice for those wanting to learn about church history, the development of political and scientific thought in the West, etc. Nothing too earth-shattering if you took Western Civ, Intro to Christianity, etc. but there are some new connections and insights. For more on Ireland's role in preserving knowledge through the Dark Ages, try How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    This book did an amazing job of sharing the important events in state ruled Christianity from its adoption in the Roman Empire to the creation of the United States. The authors profiled the thinkers and how they came to their ideas. They traced the inclusion of those ideas in affairs of state. And eventually those ideas that began with St. Augustine ended with the scientific method and a democracy of the people and for the people. The history of Christianity was lived out over the geography of th This book did an amazing job of sharing the important events in state ruled Christianity from its adoption in the Roman Empire to the creation of the United States. The authors profiled the thinkers and how they came to their ideas. They traced the inclusion of those ideas in affairs of state. And eventually those ideas that began with St. Augustine ended with the scientific method and a democracy of the people and for the people. The history of Christianity was lived out over the geography of the Western Roman Empire, parts of Africa, and Ireland. Therefore all of the thinkers are not from Ireland. However the idea that began in Ireland was lived out in all of the other thinkers. So by tracing the ideas of Ireland you can find democracy and the scientific method. Who knew there was so much going on in the Dark Ages?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shaunna

    When I assign a thesis paper to my students, I want to see them carry, support, and prove that thesis statement all the way through the paper. This book started with a thesis, which you can see in the description of the book, but it falls apart about halfway through. The book is interesting--don't get me wrong. It is a trace of Catholic (and then Protestant) theology from Augustine through the Reformation. The reader can see the original thesis up into about the year 800, but then it disappears When I assign a thesis paper to my students, I want to see them carry, support, and prove that thesis statement all the way through the paper. This book started with a thesis, which you can see in the description of the book, but it falls apart about halfway through. The book is interesting--don't get me wrong. It is a trace of Catholic (and then Protestant) theology from Augustine through the Reformation. The reader can see the original thesis up into about the year 800, but then it disappears as the authors begin to discuss the development of theology in Western Europe. And in the final three paragraphs of the book, the authors attempt to bring it all back around again to Ireland's role. But by then it's too little, too late.

  13. 4 out of 5

    David Elkin

    I am impressed with the historical work put into the book. Though I am an agnostic, I have always been interested in Church History. Every catholic should read the book. A nice summary of how Irish Catholics impacted the history of the Church from the time of the late Roman Empire to the Reformation. Some of the history is very convoluted but with study, a dedicated reader will grasp it. A reader with a strong historical bent will research it. Not a book for the casual reader, but a true literary I am impressed with the historical work put into the book. Though I am an agnostic, I have always been interested in Church History. Every catholic should read the book. A nice summary of how Irish Catholics impacted the history of the Church from the time of the late Roman Empire to the Reformation. Some of the history is very convoluted but with study, a dedicated reader will grasp it. A reader with a strong historical bent will research it. Not a book for the casual reader, but a true literary delight for a student of church history.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kiki

    There were some very interesting bits of history in here, and the authors did a good job of tracing the flow of ideas across centuries. I originally gave this book 3 stars, because it was a bit dry in places, especially near the beginning (though improved in the last half of the book). But I've bumped it up to 4 stars because I've found the content so valuable -- the flow of changing concepts of the cosmos over the centuries that allowed for the development of science and democracy. There were some very interesting bits of history in here, and the authors did a good job of tracing the flow of ideas across centuries. I originally gave this book 3 stars, because it was a bit dry in places, especially near the beginning (though improved in the last half of the book). But I've bumped it up to 4 stars because I've found the content so valuable -- the flow of changing concepts of the cosmos over the centuries that allowed for the development of science and democracy.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tera

    Interesting, but I'll take the TV documentary of it instead please. It was good and filled with lots of interesting information, but would have liked a shorter and condensed experience hence the documentary request. Having said that i realize there are shows out there like this. Admittedly my patience with church history is short so I'm sure that colored my opinion, but it was good and I will recommend despite my preferences. ARC from NetGalley Interesting, but I'll take the TV documentary of it instead please. It was good and filled with lots of interesting information, but would have liked a shorter and condensed experience hence the documentary request. Having said that i realize there are shows out there like this. Admittedly my patience with church history is short so I'm sure that colored my opinion, but it was good and I will recommend despite my preferences. ARC from NetGalley

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laura Pratt

    I initially requested this book because I love anything to do with Ireland. I love my heritage and I love learning about it. This book is very well written and researched and though I enjoyed the book and I would recommend it if you like history, I would not just recommend it to anyone for light reading. Definitely check it out though if you like History.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melisende

    Pagan Ireland embraced Christianity with a passion! We are taken on a spiritual journey to see how Irish Christianity shaped the West. In its golden age of monks and monasteries, learning and preaching, Irish Christianity spread far and wide, dissembling its own particular brand and imprinting it on the religious canvas. Clearly written for the religious novice (pardon the pun!).

  18. 5 out of 5

    Licienne Sodano

    I think a 12 year old wrote this as a term paper....you can not follow it and also you have to keep going back a page or 2 to keep up with the dates and ideas. It is HORRIBLE I tried reading the first 30 pages and gave up! I shouldn't have to take notes and make an outline for my own use to read a book just to keep dates, story lines and ideas straight I am glad I got this for free! I think a 12 year old wrote this as a term paper....you can not follow it and also you have to keep going back a page or 2 to keep up with the dates and ideas. It is HORRIBLE I tried reading the first 30 pages and gave up! I shouldn't have to take notes and make an outline for my own use to read a book just to keep dates, story lines and ideas straight I am glad I got this for free!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    Great read!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Phil Lawless

    This book describes for the first time I know of how the practice of frequent confession and absolution came to be practiced in the Roman Catholic church. It came from Ireland.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chase King

  22. 5 out of 5

    Penny Kettlewell

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laurel Gunderson

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sandra L. Bothwell

  26. 4 out of 5

    Paula A. Guth

  27. 4 out of 5

    James Burke

  28. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Martinez

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amber Sellers

  30. 5 out of 5

    Roy

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