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Festschrift with firm principles

21 April 2008

James Garrard on high-church essays


Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth: Essays in honour of the Rt Revd David Thomas
Jeffrey Gainer and Andrew Holmes, editors

Credo Cymru £7 (978-0-9556735-0-4)

THESE ESSAYS are an act of pietas to a well-loved pastor. They traverse well-worn subjects of interest to Anglo-Catholics, such as the Oxford Movement without Newman, the to-do over the reintroduction of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Eng-land in 1850, Gregory Dix, and so on. They are solid pieces, as far as they go; and rely on a bibliography that most of this volume’s readers will have on their bookshelves.

I was fascinated by Jeffrey Gainer’s chapter on the links between Brittany and Wales, know-ing little of them previously. I was intrigued by the image of the exchange of a Latin-Welsh diction-ary between a Breton scholar and the Baptist missionaries who went to evangelise Brittany at much the same time as Catholic missionaries arrived in Wales from Quimper. Gainer draws interesting parallels between popular and domestic piety, and tensions between state and religious education in both places. It seems that the diminishing of persecution leads inexorably to diminishing piety.

The book is intriguing as an endeavour in itself. The tribute to the Bishop could have been written in the 1950s. Most, but not all, of the chapters are high-church historical subjects redolent of the publications of the Church Historical Society of the same decade. In his chapter, Philip Wyn Jones comments that the Nonjurors wished “to preserve both their principles and their Church of England identity”. If I rightly divide the message of this volume, it is to strike this note in its appreciation of Bishop Thomas.

The Revd Dr Garrard is Warden of Readers for the diocese of Blackburn.

The book is available from The Treasurer, Credo Cymru, 127 Saunders Way, Swansea SA2 8BJ, for £7 plus £1.15 p. & p.

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