The Print of the Nails
Author Hugh Hillyard-Parker (Ed.)
Publisher Canterbury Press £18.99
This book is the perfect gift as Easter approaches – give it to someone who appreciates fine writing and gentle, thoughtful, but penetrating Christian opinion. The ideal day for the gift would be Palm Sunday, since the liturgical focus is Holy Week and Eastertide. That said, you may want to buy two copies, because if you start to read, it will be difficult to give away!
All the writings in The Print of the Nails appeared in the Church Times between 2000 and 2021, and have been edited and collated by Hugh Hillyard-Parker, accompanied by a witty introduction from Paul Handley – 67 pieces in all, from a galaxy of accomplished writers with their fingers on the pulse of Christian thinking: modern but orthodox, original yet devotional, full of wisdom and light. This book will enrich your life, for it reminds us in this soundbite age that thoughtful written words and well-constructed arguments are still powerful forms of communication. The essay is not yet dead.
The canvas is broad, since the book is divided into eight sections, each representing a specific day (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday), a seminal event (The Crucifixion, The Resurrection) or a general Eastertide theme (Easter Reflections, Worship at Easter, Easter in the Arts). The writers include several bishops (e.g. Stephen Cottrell, Martin Warner); well-known priest-authors (e.g. Rachel Mann, Barbara Brown Taylor, Sam Wells); regular Church Times columnists (e.g. Malcolm Guite, Caroline Chartres, Angela Tilby); eminent Readers (Paula Gooder, Ronald Blythe); and others too numerous to list – an embarrassment of riches.
The theological focus is not simply biblical – although scripture dominates much of the writing. The section on Easter in the Arts shows how the Christian message is given in creative works, especially in paintings and music. There are also many black and white illustrations. Enjoy this book – it will illuminate the Easter season for you, not just in 2022, but in the years to come.
All royalties from this book will go to the Church Homeless Trust.
Reviewed by KATE BURTON