31 JANUARY 1903, Page 10


The Celtic Church in Britain and Ireland. By Heinrich Zimmer. (D. Nutt. 3s. 6d.)—Mr. A. Meyer has translated this little book from Professor Zimmer's article in the German "Pro- testant Encyclopaedia." Professor Zimmer practically demolishes the legend of Patricius in so far as it makes St. Patrick the founder of Irish Christianity. It has always been a stumbling- block to his followers that his own contemporaries scarcely knew him, and never made any such claim as the legend or his post- humous biographer makes. This is by way of proving the exist- ence of the Irish Church in the days of Pelagius. Professor Zimmer's arguments deducing from the Pelagian heresy and the Pelagian Commentary, and their grip and extent, the existence of a strong Irish Church prior to the fifth century are very convincing, if not perhaps actually sound. The linguistic arguments are as powerful as any, that Latin loan-words have come through British - Irish mouths, and not from Patrick and his Romance-speaking companions. There cannot be much room for detail in a short article, but the author sketches for us the monastic constitution of the Irish Church, its existence in Ireland and North Britain, and its prosperity till the ninth century. Then comes the struggle for the superiority of the Roman Primacy, when the Irish Church was still learned and flourishing ; then the gradual assimilation, the introduction of the relic cult and the Patrick legend, and the disappearance of the Celtic Church in the twelfth century ; not, however, before it had left a reputation for breadth of view and a more personal Christianity, as is hinted at in Bede's description of Aidan.