Book Review: Saint Francis by Robert West: Thomas Nelson Christian Encounters Series
(I really need to be more creative in my book review titles, don't I?)
|Saint Francis (Christian Encounters Series)
I've had Saint Francis for more than a month now and haven't gotten around to writing the review. Sorry about that, folks, but it's been a little hectic. Plus, I had a few reviews with timetables, so those got advanced on the calendar.
This little book seems to be quite well written. Robert West writes with an engaging tone, drawing the reader into the story of the life of St. Francis. The book is, obviously at 230 pages including footnotes, too short to give every detail of that life.
One of the features of this book is that West offers the miraculous events in Francis's life without commentary. Rather than analyze whether or not a vision was real or imagined, the event is recorded as factual, with the reader left to make his own decision about the veracity of the events. This is also the pattern taken to report the legendary events as well, such as Francis preaching to wild animals that reportedly sit and listen attentively.
By presenting the book in this fashion, West avoids trivializing the events, but it does leave the reader with questions about the work overall. That Francis heard the audible voice of God is presented as factually as that Francis traveled to Israel during the Crusades. The credibility of the whole book then becomes a potential issue, for some readers will struggle with the idea of audible voices or flaming chariots.
That would include myself, though I'll give Francis the benefit of the doubt that he, at least, thought he saw and heard such things, and his life lived out in response to them. West's presentation of those events then comes into context, when one considers that he is striving to portray Francis the way Francis would have presented himself.
In all, this work fits well with the Christian Encounters Series from Thomas Nelson: it's a short biography, provides a reasonable introduction to the life of a person important in Christian heritage, and is easy to read. Naturally, the serious student of Franciscan history will need to find the books cited as sources or listed in the biography, but for the casually interested, this makes a good primer on his life.
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher. No money or influence was exchanged. For more details, read Disclosures! or go to http://www.booksneeze.com for details. Oh, and yes, that's an affiliate link up there to Amazon.com. Why? I have no idea. No one ever uses them, but it's there.