This small volume aims to present the main themes of the early Irish church in an accessible manner to the scholar and the uninitiated alike. Carey avoids technical terms and effectively illustrates how the peculiarities and mysteries of Irish Christiantity enriched the rest of Christendom. The second edition has corrections and an updated bibliography.
A Single Ray of the Sun
Religious Speculation in Early Ireland
John Carey (Author)
This is a delightful and unusual book: delightful, because the author wears his learning lightly, as he speculates the nature of religious beliefs in early Ireland; and unusual, because its topic, theology in its broadest sense …, is rarely broached among contemporary scholars of early Christian Ireland, who prefer to write about its spirituality and its biblical exegesis. … Elegantly written and beautifully printed, this book is a welcome addition to the field of early Irish studies. (Pádraig R. Ó Néill, Éigse: A Journal of Irish Studies 33 (2002), pp. 251-3)
[O]ne feels that [John Carey’s] modesty, however much it becomes him, must be met with higher praise, if only for the clarity and blessed brevity with which he has shown how much is to be gained of value in itself, and even value of our present predicaments, if we are prepared to erase some lines (the battle lines that divided nativist and anti-nativist), and to cross more frequently some others (the lines between textual-literary-historical studies, and religious studies or theology). (James P. Mackey, Zeitschrift for celtische Philologie 53 (2003), p. 301)
Addressed first and foremost ‘to readers without a background in the subject’ (p. vii), the book deserves credit both for the author’s balanced and discriminating view on controversial matters and for his humane approach, which does not shun the question of what meaning any given text (and its study) may have for the modern investigator. Combining scholarly accuracy with readability, it well deserves emulation in an age in which cultural studies are under increasing pressure to justify their existence. (Bernhard Maier, Cambrian Medieval Studies 41 (2001), p. 70)