Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Christians and Pagans: The Conversion of Britain from Alban to Bede

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Christians and Pagans: The Conversion of Britain from Alban to Bede

Article excerpt

Christians and Pagans: The Conversion of Britain from Alban to Bede BY MALCOLM LAMBERT YALE, 336 PAGES, $50

By the second century, Roman soldiers were bringing their new faith to Britain, and in the middle of the third century St. Alban became Britain's first known Christian martyr, but we don't know much more about who these Christians were, and it is here that Malcolm Lambert begins in Pagans and Christians: The Conversion of Britain from Alban to Bede, producing a captivating narrative by squeezing what he can - but no more - from archeologicai evidence (mostly from burial sites) and the limited historical record. He does so in a clear and prudent way delightfully free of academic theorizing.

After St. Alban, Christianity maintained a tenuous hold in Britain for four centuries as small kingdoms and many religions battled for dominance amid intermittent invasions by tribes from Ireland and the Continent, until the arrival of St. …

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