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John Scotus Eriugena  810 - 877

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The Voice of the Eagle: The Heart of Celtic Christianity

The Voice of the Eagle:  The Heart of Celtic ChristianityThe Voice of the Eagle:  The Heart of Celtic Christianity by Christopher Bamford

Introduction by Thomas Moore

Includes John Scotus Eriugena’s
Homily on the Prologue to the Gospel of St. John

John Scotus Eriugena was born and raised in Ireland during the early ninth century. Neither monk nor priest but a “holy sage,” he carried to France the flower of Celtic Christianity. His homily, The Voice of the Eagle, is a jewel of lyrical mysticism, theology, and cosmology, containing the essence of Celtic Christian wis­dom. He meditates on the meaning and purpose of creation as revealed by the Word made flesh, distilling into twenty-three short chapters a uniquely Celtic, non-dualistic fusion of Chris­tianity, Platonism, and ancient Irish wisdom.

The translator’s “Reflections” make up the second half of this book and attempt to unfold some of the life-giving meaning implicit in Eriugena’s luminous sentences. Inspired both by a personal search for a living Christianity and by a sense of the con­tinuity of Western culture, these “Reflections” offer a contempo­rary, meditative encounter with the Word, or Logos, as mediated by both St. John’s Prologue and Eriugena’s Celtic homily.

This favorite of Celtic Christianity, unavailable for several years, has been revised and includes a new introduction by Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul.

Christopher Bamford works as editor-in-chief of Lindisfarne Books. A Fel­low of the Lindisfarne Association, he has lectured and taught widely. He writes frequently on Western spiritual and esoteric traditions for Lapis, Gnosis, Parabola, and Sphinx. He is the author/translator/ editor of Celtic Christianity: Ecol­ogy and Holiness and The Noble Traveller. An essay he wrote on death and dying will be part of Harper’s prestigious annual Best Spiritual Writing of 2000.

 Christopher Bamford has written a wonderful book. It combines a rigour of scholarship with a lyrical unveiling of how this wonderful text of Eriugena’s can resonate with the hungers and discoveries of our times. It deserves a wide readership. Its lucid depths enrich the mind and awaken the heart to the grandeur of light where the eter­nal shines.

— John O’Donohue, author of Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wis­dom

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John Scotus Eriugena Biography


Irish theologian and Neoplatonist philosopher. Translated and made commentaries upon Pseudo-Dionysius. The name Eriugena means the same as Scotus, 'born in Ireland'. He is eulogized by Coulton as 'coming out of the darkness like a meteor', and by Russell as 'the most astonishing figure of the early Medieval period'.

Though a singular and enigmatic figure who stood outside the mainstream, it is now widely accepted that John Scotus possessed the finest and most original intellect of the early Middle Ages. He was highly proficient in Greek, quite rare at that time in mainland Europe, and was thus well-placed for translation work. Though born in Ireland he later (c845) moved to France, where he took over the school, the Palatine Academy, at the invitation of King Charles I (Charles the Bald, 823-77). He remained in France for at least 30 years. At the request of the Greek Emperor Michael (in c858) John undertook some translation into Latin of the works of Pseudo-Dionysius and added his own commentary. He was thus the first to introduce the ideas of Neoplatonism from the Greek into the Western European intellectual tradition, where they were to have a deeply formative influence over Christian theology...


Notes on John Scotus Eriugena


His greatest work and the sole speculative system to be produced between the final collapse of the Roman Empire and the 11th century, is Periphyseon, ‘On the Divisions of Nature,’ written 862-866.

According to the system, Nature is the totality of the things that are and the things that are not. Such is the first division of nature into genera.


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