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Columba’s name dominates the narrative of early Scottish Christianity. What was established on Iona through Columba’s astonishing leadership, and through a succession of energetic and resourceful abbots, exerted a unique influence on the development of Christianity in Scotland and beyond. Bruce Ritchie’s analytical biography is the key to understanding the real Columba, his theology, his spirituality, and the faith that drove him across the sea.
Living as he did in the twilight of antiquity, the memory of the remarkable Celtic Christian leader Columba has been both obscured by legend and claimed by various communities, which has only further obscured the real man. In this new study, Bruce Ritchie has put all who love the story of the Celtic Church in his debt as he untangles what we can truly know about Columba, his life in Ireland before coming to Iona, the Iona mission, and his thought. A solid historical monograph marked by scholarly heft, Ritchie’s biography is also eminently readable—a rare combination and a delight to recommend.
--- Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentuck
Bruce Ritchie has written a new, scholarly, ground–breaking biography of St Columba, weaving together historical narrative and theological exploration in a masterful way. We encounter the man, his times, his life, his teaching, and his legacy, set before us with depth, detail, and colour. This now surely has to be the starting point for all future studies of the Scottish saint. In my judgment, the book deserves the widest possible circulation among all serious students of Scottish church history.
--- Nick Needham, Lecturer in Church History, Highland Theological College, Dingwall, Scotland