My friends at Cross Focused Reviews have blessed me with another opportunity to review a book. This time around, it is the latest installment of Simonetta Carr’s Christian Biographies for Young Readers. There are several biographies in this collection which I’ve been interested in purchasing for my daughter (and any future children) to read as they grow. So far, Simonetta Carr has written about Augustine, Athanasius, John Calvin, John Owen, and Lady Jane Grey; and future releases include volumes on Martin Luther, John Knox, Julia Gonzaga, and Jonathan Edwards. The newest release in this excellent series is “Anselm of Canterbury” that follows the life of the esteemed theologian of the Middle Ages.
One of the best things about this book is its broad accessibility. Although the back cover reads, “For Ages 7–12”, both younger children and adults will find it an enjoyable read. It is both informative and entertaining, but neither challenging or unrealistic. Simonetta brings history to life and guides the reader through life in the Middle Ages. She helps us understand the technological, geopolitical, and social issues–but perhaps more importantly–the theological advances that came as a result of God’s grace in Anselm’s life.
My favorite parts of the book were those that gave us a glimpse into Anselm’s personal life as a leader of the Church, theologian, and servant. Carr informs us of his struggles with administrative duties and his disinterest in the bishopric, but even in the midst of the challenges Anselm faced, he was a man of great integrity and humility. He submitted to authority (even when those in charge abused their power) and although he had a privileged upbringing and prominent position in society and the Church, he did not flaunt it or use it for personal gain.
I appreciate Simonetta Carr’s inclusion of Anselm’s Christology within the book as well. What is a biography of Anselm with no attention to his theology? The author does a superb job in simply explaining Anselm’s satisfaction view of the atonement and the two natures of Christ. She succinctly summarizes the biblical teaching of the necessity of Jesus’ deity and humanity, which Anselm wrote about in his classic, “Cur Deus Homo” (Why the God Man?).
Even the physical quality of the book is spectacular. Reformation Heritage has done an excellent job in crafting a product with a look and feel that compliments the subject matter within. The paper is fairly heavy with a glossy finish and the binding is smooth and durable. The illustrations (by Matt Abraxas) are dream-like—beautifully capturing the character and conduct of Anselm, and accompanied by a variety of photographs and images that help root the reader in the historical and geographical context of the biography.
I heartily recommend this book for anyone interested in studying Church History—child and adult alike. It was a most enjoyable read, and I am excited about reading it to my daughter (and any additional children we may have in the future). If my wife and I are able to homeschool, we will definitely use the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series as a part of our history curriculum. Simonetta Carr does a fabulous job of making the 11th Century accessible, while maintaining important elements of the life of Anselm. She preserves the sociocultural historicity at no expense of his theology and personality. I look forward to reading other volumes in the series, as I am confident the same level of quality will be upheld throughout.
For more on this subject, please visit the Historical Theology page.
Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product… that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK.
- New Children’s Book (heritagebooktalk.org)