THE PURPLE AND THE SCARLET, by Guy Schofield (George G. Harrap & Cu. Ltd., London, I5s.).
THE "Purple" is the Imperial Purple of Pagan Rome. The "Scarlet" is the martyrdom of the Christian Church, The purpose of the present book is to tell the story of the earliest period when these two-the Purple and the Scarlet-went side by side; approximately the century which followed the close of the "Acts of the Apostles" (circa A.D.62). Or, more precisely, as the sub-title puts it: "A.D. 39 -155: The Historical Sequel to the New Testament."
" The New Testament," writes Mr. Guy Schofield in his preface. " ends abruptly with Paul captive in Rome. in the year A.D. 62. The curtain is rung down arbitrarily and upon no climax. We do not know why Luke stopped writing at that point." True; but alongside this we may note the words of Fr. C. S. Dessain, M.A., of the Birmingham Oratory, in the "Catholic Commentary " : " We may safely conclude that it [the Acts] was written in Rome, before the great fire of July 64. which let loose the Neronian Persecution. and which was perhaps the immediate cause of the hurried ending of the hook."
" DUT what did happen after IP wards ? " asks Mr. Schofield. One can give a direct and immediate answer by saying that, in spite of the comparative scarcity of information-as compared with later ages-we know from various authentic documents and archaeological sources that the Church spread rapidly throughout the society of the empire, accompanied by the phenomenon of martyrdom, the Church being an organized society under the authority and direction of the See of Rome.
But as regards the present hook Mr. Schofield states his aim thus : "This book is an attempt to tell the story of the next hundred years in a manner acceptable to the general reader; that is, as a narrative with a central theme, linked by the interplay of characters through three generations-to the death of the last Apostolic Father." (That is, St. Polycarp, a direct disciple of St. John the Apostle.) Mr. Schofield's narrative is eminently readable, vivid and dramatic, as might be , expected from an experienced journalist who has travelled in Palestine (he is at present deputy editor of the "Yorkshire Post"); he is obviously deeply interested in Christian history and all its evidence. Hence his writing embodies much of vital interest to Catholics, and much with which Catholic scholarship agrees.
We may therefore agree with what a Catholic reviewer (Pamela Frankau) has said about this book -that it is "bravely conceived and well done." It gives many vivid pictures of Imperial Rome, in such chapters as "The Golden Shore," "The Sword of Agrippa," and "The Capital of the World."
THROUGHOUT its basic interest and its central theme arc professedly the events and characters of Christianity; while he paints the glamour and the luxury, the horror and the cruelty, of the pagan empire, he is on the alert to the Christian narrative and its outstanding characters : St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Clement of Rome. St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polcarp of Smyrna. Papias of Hierapolis, and St. John the Apostle of whom these were contemporaries.
Thus, Mr. Schofield accepts Simon Peter as the Head of the Christian community (page 20); and the "destiny decreed for him" -"That thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it " (page 84); he states that "nothing has been established to dismay those who put their trust in the Apostles' Creed " (page 20); he writes in his "Epilogue " : "The Faith thus made fast to earth has become the dominant fact of history.. . . So far as the mind can see, the future of Christianity must as certainly decide the fate of man-and perhaps that of the very globe he lives on-as its past has, more than any other influence. moulded his ethical conception, his social conscience, and his artistic expression."
On, the other hand there are several departures from constant Christian tradition; e.g., the theory of St. Joseph's previous marriage and widowhood, thus explaining the "brothers and sisters" of our Lord (page 21); the theory of the fourth Gospel being written by another John-the Presbyter or Elder and not by John the Apostle (page 123); matters which will be found very fully discussed in the "Catholic Commentary."
There are also notable omissions; e.g., such vital matters of the Christian life as those witnessed in the second century Didacheespecially Baptism, the Eucharist, and the Hierarchy. The choice of emphasis, Mr. Schofield states in his preface, is entirely his own; nevertheless, without including these essentials of the Christian life and its organization. one gets a truncated and falsified picture. This book should therefore be read with the Catholic criterion in mind.
Two maps are included : Palestine in the First Century; and The Eastern Empire-Sites of the Earliest Christian Activity.
First 70 years
MY FIRST SEVENTY YEARS, by Sister M. Madeleva, C.S.C. (The Macmillan Company, New York, 24s. 6d.).
IT is no little thing to have travelled extensively in America and Europe, to have been a mountain climber, to have known many of the intellectual and literary celebrities of two continents. to have written more than a dozen volumes of poetry , (winning the Sienna Medal and the National Poetry Centre Award). to I
have been President of St. Mary's College. Notre Dame, for 25 years -and to he still going strong.
In reading the autobiography of this varied and vital career (which Sister eladeleva whimsically terms her "first 70 years") one feels a desire to meet her facies ad Mclean in fact. one almost feels that one has done this so vivid are the pages.
And one realises the force of Bishop Pursley of Fort Wayne's words in the conclusion of his preface: "It is refreshing to know well one of the many who meet their adjustment difficulties without any overpowering temptation to 'leap over the wall.' In the case of Sister Madeleva a great many people arc thankful for that."
At Oxford A, I OBIOGRAPHY always has a wide appeal; and this autobiography will strike many a chord in the memories of the writer's contemporaries, both in England and America; for instance, Sister Madeleva was at Oxford in the 1930's (she gives us a most interesting impression of the Bodleian Library) where she was acquainted with such famous folk as Fr. Martin D'Arey, S.J., C. S. Lewis. Walter de la Mare, and John Masetield.
Her first retreat (before she was a Religious) was made under the direction of Fr. Bertrand Conway. the author of the renowned " Question Box " (by the way, he was C.S.P.-Congregation of St. Paul-not 0.P., as stated). At that time, the future Sister of the Holy Cross felt keenly that she was unfitted for such office :
"Clearly. the religious life was what I most desired and for which I had most completely disqualified myself. God did not make sisters out of girls like me." Which shows how little one knows the future.
These 34 chapters are written with the pen of a poet and a perfect story-teller combined; they cover childhood and schooldays. religious vocation and the work of education in teaching and administration, travel and varied experiences. All are interspersed with colour, lively humour, and wise reflection. A pity. of course. that like most American books, this one is so expensive. A porraft of the author appears on the jacket cover.