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, Kentucky
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
Dr Bruce Ritchie’s depiction of Columba as an ‘Island Soldier’, fighting the good fight of faith against the world, the flesh and the Devil, is both a pleasure to read and a thoroughly refreshing study of the saint’s theology and beliefs as recorded in primary sources. Dr Ritchie presents us with a robust figure who is something of contrast to the soft, sentimental and acquiescent ‘Columba’ of popular imagination.
Donald Meek, Professor Emeritus, Scottish, Celtic & Gaelic Studies
In this scholarly and comprehensive account of Columba, Bruce Ritchie combines historical, theological and spiritual insights into his work. Deserving of a wide readership, his accomplished study will enrich our understanding of one of the great figures in Scottish church history.