SSP: Why Study Patrick’s Scriptures?

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

“If we wish to sound the real depths of this great spiritual masterpiece, then, it is not enough to read it; we are advised to come to know, not only the sources, but also the context of its biblical quotations and significant biblical allusions, of which Patrick makes highly effective use in his Confessio.[1]

Major Roman Cities MapBefore proceeding to consideration of the historical Patrick, let us pause to briefly consider the value in studying Patrick’s Bible and his use of scripture. From a historical perspective, coming to better terms with Patrick’s Bible provides insights into the Bible on the edge the Roman Empire during the fifth century. Not only does Patrick offer a unique case study in the midst of a difficult time for the Western Roman Empire, but the situation in Ireland may prove paradigmatic for understanding the form, shape, and influence of the Christian Bible in other “border of the Empire” contexts.

Next, studying Patrick’s Bible creates a window through which we may better understand Patrick’s personal theology and faith-life. On this topic, Daniel Conneely notes that further analysis of how Patrick employed the scriptures may clarify our understanding of his mission and literary skills.[2] Finally, this study hopes to contribute to wider conversations surrounding the formation of the Christian Bible and New Testament canon, the transmission history of the Vulgate, and the authority of scripture in the early medieval period. For all of these reasons, further consideration of Patrick’s Bible and his use of scripture are warranted.


[1] Maire B. de Paor. Patrick the Pilgrim Apostle of Ireland. New York: Regan Books, 2002. 18.

[2] Daniel Conneely. St Patrick’s Letters: A Study of their Theological Dimension. Edited by Patrick Bastable et al. Maynooth, IRE: An Sagart, 1993. 20.

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