Fiery Shapes

PDF EBook by Mark Williams

EBook Description

As the first sustained study of the interplay between astrological and apocalyptic interpretations in Celtic literatures, establishes much to link the two trends, and his arguments about their interplay are cogent. Fiery Shapes PDF EBook Indeed, Williams approaches the sources with key arguments that lay the foundations for further work.

In the first part of the book, focused on early Irish sources (the most relevant for my interests), Williams especially demonstrates the convergent ways in which celestial signs were obsessed over, discussed, and interpreted, all the while dismantling Romanticized notions about the Celtic past. Most helpful is the framework from which Williams works, which is to understand the array of texts and traditions as diverse and in tension. He frames a development of interpreting celestial signs in terms of the native traditions, early Christian sources, and innovative understandings by Celtic writers. Thus, he emphasizes the fact that the sources portray a progressive, complex development, in which celestial interpretations (and apocalyptic descriptions in particular) expand "into scenarios of increasing detail and complexity" (xxi)—out of this, he aptly demonstrates the "naturalization of apocalyptic imagery and its elaboration into more complex literary sign- PDFsequences" (26) that is essentially due to the "apocalyptic lens" of the writers.

Two major problems of this study lie in Williams's lack of tracing and defining apocalyptic literature in terms of its long development out of late antiquity. While he acknowledges that this is a long-standing tradition with strong influences throughout the late antique and medieval period, Williams fails to demonstrate the links that would strengthen his claims about the strong influence of apocalyptic thinking on Celtic texts. Furthermore, he does not explicitly define his terms, and his imprecise uses of "apocalyptic/ism," and "eschatology/-ical" do not help his case. Finally, there is much that Williams ignores as part of this complex tradition, especially in Ireland. Much of the apocryphal literature is left out—and sometimes recent research is not fully accounted for*—and this is detrimental to his discussion of the intertextual issues of apocalyptic imagery across a variety of sources. Although this is a specifically focused study, surely further work in this area would have benefited the overall arguments of the book.

* As an example of the problem here, to my knowledge Williams does not directly discuss or even cite Martin McNamara's still monumental study, The Apocrypha in the Irish Church (Dublin, 1975)—although, oddly enough, it does appear in the bibliography. It is also distracting that many of Williams's own claims are based on those of William Heist on the Fifteen Signs tradition, although Heist's conclusions are now questionable in light of more recent evidence and research. Like this book? Read online this: Augustine and Apocalyptic, Fiery Pool.

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