Biographies/Writings: Saints & Notable Christians

For the lives of those we give the title Saint, and other historically noteworthy Christian men and women, written by their contemporaries, their own writings and stories about them painstakingly put together by modern day writers,

F.F.Bruce: A Life

- The Definitive Biography of a New Testament Scholar

by Tim Grass

F.F Bruce (1910-1990) was a well known evangelical scholar of the 20th century. He worked in academia, spending 20 years at Manchester University as professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis. During his lifetime he had over 80 books and numerous articles published and lectured all over the world.
Amongst evangelicals Bruce is a controversial figure because of his approach to the study of the Bible. He did not start by assuming that what he was reading was inerrant, rather he kept an open mind. This led him to adopt some liberal positions including doubting that Isaiah and Daniel were the authors of the books named after them and that the pastoral letters were not penned by Paul.
This biography is well researched and well written. It is a serious and in-depth look at Mr. Bruce the man, the Christian and the academic. Written with a detached style, the author is not afraid to highlight his weaknesses as well as his strengths. Mr. Grass also writes with great clarity when explaining the various theological issues involved.
The author leaves his evaluation of Bruce’s life until the last chapter. For this reviewer, this is the least satisfying part of the book: I would have liked some discussion on the effect that Bruce’s beliefs had on his students and on the wider church. That said this is an engaging and interesting read.

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Review by Alan Hill  (27/10/11)
Price: £14.99
Publisher: Paternoster Press imprint of Authentic Media
Published: April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-842-27737-9

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Blessed John Paul II

Edited by Renzo Sala

This little pocket booklet is the story of John-Paul II, the Polish priest whose name was Karol Wojtyla before he became Pope in 1978. Only this year has he been created Blessed by the present Pope which is a step on the way to final canonisation and sainthood. First we have a brief biography of Wojtyla detailing his early life working as a labourer under the Nazis and the clandestine courses in theology he took before being ordained priest at the end of the war. He was soon a bishop, then at 44 an archbishop and three years later a cardinal. In 1978 he was elected Pope as John-Paul II and served for twenty seven years before he died in 2005. The rest of the book consists of short excerpts from his writings as worker, priest and pastor. There is also a selection of messages and prayers left at his tomb by young people which are very moving. Facing every page there is an illustration of John-Paul in various situations. There are not many pages but what we have are illuminating and stimulating.

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Review by John Irvine  (27/10/11)
Price: £3.95
Publisher: St Pauls Publishing from Redemptorist Publications
Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-854-39814-0

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G.K.Chesterton: A Biography

by Ian Ker

G.K. Chesterton is best known as a writer of satirical verse and of detective stories. Ian Ker presents him in a new light. He emphasises the formidable defender of Christian values; the champion of “ordinary” people against the power of the establishment. Chesterton is one of the least known and most remarkable figures of the mid twentieth century. Those for whom Ker’s biography is their first introduction will warm to the humanity of a great Christian. Those who already know and love Chesterton will not be disappointed.

Review by Teresa De Bertodano  (13/10/11)
Price: £35.00
Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP)
Published: 21 April 2011
ISBN: 978-0-199-60128-8

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Consecrated Spirits

- A Thousand years of Spiritual Writings by Women Religious

Compiled by Felicity Leng

This is a lovely book to dip into, containing constant surprises, considerable wit and a feisty and endearing feminism. Its six sections have themes such as Visionaries, Founders and Directors, and, perhaps more appealingly, Community, Politics and Solidarity. Within the chapters, writers are presented in approximate chronological order; at the end are dates and biographies. If I have a minor quibble, it is that I would prefer the biographical material to precede each extract for ease of reference.
There are old favourites here, such as Julian of Norwich and St Teresa of Avila, keeping company with modern writers such as Mother Maribel of Wantage, an Anglican nun who declares robustly that 'all you have to do is to provide a channel sufficiently clear of rubbish for God to work through.' Sr Jeanne de Jussie, writing in 1532, is horrified by the violence of Protestants in her native Geneva; Sr Pia Buxton shares love, compassion and forgiveness with a twentieth century Buddhist community. Sr Juana de la Cruz, a seventeenth century Mexican nun who tried to go to university disguised as a boy, is sure that that the female intellect is as open to divine grace and glory as a man's, and Sr Helen Prejean gladdens the heart with her continuing and passionate campaign against the death penalty. There are many others.
I had never heard of Australia's first saint, St Mary of the Cross, excommunicated in the nineteenth century after reporting a priest for child abuse, but I loved her at once for her words to her fellow nuns: 'O let us, if we cannot agree to what our poor dear old Bishop requires, at least be humble in the way we refuse.'

Review by Joan van Emden  (13/10/11)
Price: £14.99
Publisher: Crossway Books from IVP
Published: 31 August 2011
ISBN: 978-1-853-11952-1

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The Select Practical Writings of John Knox

by John Knox

This is a fascinating selection of the writings of the great Scottish reformer John Knox first published in 1845. The text is unabridged and unaltered except that the spelling has been updated.
Covering the period 1554 to 1558 the book includes 15 personal letters, 2 sermons, an exposition of Psalm 6 and a number of general epistles. One of the sermons is his famous message on Isaiah 26 that so upset Lord Darnley, husband of Mary Queen of Scots.
The opening chapter provides an excellent summary of the historical context of each item included. The book therefore gives a window into 5 years of John Knox’s momentous life.
However, this is much more than a mere historical record. You will see his pastoral love for believers as he seeks to help those afflicted by persecution and ill health. You will appreciate his careful and thorough exposition and application of God’s word. You will be struck by his thoughtful use of scripture to support his argument. Above all, you should find yourself challenged by his burning love for the truth and his hatred of idolatry.
Knox can be wordy at times. Occasionally his rugged language grates compared to our more genteel times, but do not let that put you off. This book is a rare gem and worth reading. If we catch a small portion of his passion for the true Gospel then we will be the better for it.
Banner of Truth are to be commended for reprinting this scarce Victorian work.

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Review by Alan Hill  (05/10/11)
Price: £16.00
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
Published: July 2011
ISBN: 978-1-848-71102-0

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Meister Eckhart

- Mystical Theologian

by Oliver Davies

Oliver Davies describes this book as emerging from a lifelong fascination with the enigmatic Meister Eckhart. As such, it is perhaps unsurprising, that Davies has produced a detailed and comprehensive summary of Eckhart’s life and work.
In seeking to unpick some of the complexity of Eckhart’s mysticism and theology Davies first introduces the reader to the variety of ways Eckhart’s work has been read before embarking on a description of Eckhart’s life. In addition to charting the path that took Eckhart from being the rising star of medieval academic theology to facing a charge of heresy, Davies takes time to consider other works that may have influenced his thinking. As well as Thomas Aquinas, Davies argues the writings of Hildegard of Bingen, Mechthild of Magdeburg and Marguerite Porete and other holy women had a significant impact on the way Eckhart developed his theology.
Part two of this three-part work is devoted to understanding Eckhart’s work in its own right. Here, alongside describing Eckhart’s writing on theology, imagery and spirituality of union, Davies unpacks the models of medieval theological and philosophical thought vital to reading Eckhart’s work accurately.
As he concludes Davies asks the obvious but searching questions regarding Eckhart’s orthodoxy. Here Davies reviews Eckhart’s apparently heretical statements in the light of his early discussion on the way Eckhart appears to use language and imagery. Finally Davis offers the reader a short epilogue considering the relevance of Eckhart’s writing in a contemporary context.
Meister Eckhart by Oliver Davies is not a particularly easy read, however it is worth the effort. In addition to providing a comprehensive biography of Meister Eckhart this work also introduces the reader to a rich tradition of Christian mystical spirituality.

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Review by Steve Langford  (04/10/11)
Price: £14.99
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-281-06410-6

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- The Complete Story

by Julian Wilson

ISBN: 978-1-860-24840-5

Published: 08 July 2011
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Marthe Robin

- A Prophetic Vision of the Gospel Message

by Bernard Peyrous, translated by Kathryn Spink

ISBN: 978-1-847-30237-3
Price: £15.99

Published: 2010
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The Life and Times of Charles Henry Mackintosh

by Edwin Cross

ISBN: 978-1-853-07246-8
Price: £16.00

Published: Spring 2011
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Women of Faith & Courage

by Vance Christie

ISBN: 978-1-845-50686-5
Price: £8.99

Published: 2011
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15 Days of Prayer With Saint Clare of Assisi

by Marie-France Becker

ISBN: 978-1-565-48371-2
Price: £8.95

Published: 2011
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Compelled by Joy

- A Lifelong Passion for Evangelism

by Michael Green

ISBN: 978-1-844-74542-5
Price: £9.99

Published: June 2011
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John MacArthur

- Servant of the Word and Flock

by Iain H. Murray

ISBN: 978-1-848-71112-9
Price: £14.50

Published: 08 August 2011
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Quantum Leap

- How John Polkinghorne Found God in Science and Religion

by Dean Nelson and Karl Giberson

ISBN: 978-1-854-24972-2
Price: £8.99

Published: May 2011
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Model of Incarnate Love

- Mary Desolate in the Experience and Thought of Chiara Lubich

by Màire 0’Byrne

ISBN: 978-1-565-48378-1
Price: £7.50

Published: 2011
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Catherine of Sienna

- A Passionate Life

by Don Brophy

ISBN: 978-0-232-52859-6
Price: £16.99

Published: January 2011
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John Knox and the Reformation

by D.M.Lloyd-Jones & Iain H. Murray

ISBN: 978-1-848-71114-3
Price: £5.50

Published: 2011
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John Stott

- A Portrait By His friends

Edited by Chris Wright

ISBN: 978-1-844-74516-6
Price: £11.99

Published: March 2011
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Frank Sheed & Maisie Ward: Spiritual Writings

- Modern Spiritual Masters Series

Selected with an Introduction by David Meconi SJ

ISBN: 978-1-570-75887-4
Price: £12.99

Published: December 2010
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The Art of Saints

- A Celebration of Holy Men and Women

by Sr Wendy Beckett

ISBN: 978-0-852-31385-5
Price: £9.95

Published: Spring 2011
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