Customer Reviews: The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford Quick Reference)
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on November 3, 1999
Balanced, informative, and interesting summary of available information on approximately 1300 saints, with useful system of indexing and cross-referencing.
In summarizing the lives of the saints, some sources seem to want to gloss over the more fantastic, fairy-tale aspects of some stories, while other sources will drift off into a Daily Meditation self-help format. This text takes an even-handed and academic approach, that allows the reader to draw his own conclusions.
As a Californian, it is a little frustrating to deal with the British bias on saints, and find nothing about saints who were chosen for California place names like San Dimas, San Luis Obispo, San Diego (Didacus?), and San Ysidro. But overall this is an excellent source for hagiographic trivia and history.
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on October 23, 2000
An entertaining and informative dictionary of saints that not only gives the lives of the saints but also a history of their folklore, veneration and relics. Farmer includes "popular" saints like St. Werner (who was never formally canonized), desanctified saints like Barbara, and a few saints of the Orthodox traditions. Appendices list patron saints and symbols associated with the saints. You will not find every saint in this work, but the ones you do find are described in rich detail. I bought this book for a narrow purpose and soon found myself reading it from cover to cover in bed. The only bothersome thing, for me, is Farmer's Anglophilia: he gives space to many obscure English and Irish saints while ignoring some key figures from other parts of the world, like St. Diego of Alcala (for whom San Diego is named). Nonetheless, it is a useful book for either reference or entertainment.
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on May 19, 1999
This book really is a superbly researched work by an author who has a real feel for the subject. It contains in-depth, well researched information which has been succintly put together. Where there is doubt about the authenticity of any source material, this is clearly stated in the text. This book is definitely the best place to start for anyone with an interest in the subject of saints.
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on January 16, 2007
This book is an interesting and engrossing catalogue of saints, primarily from the British Isles. Far from exhibiting the "bias" of which other reviewers accuse it, that focus on British/Irish saints was the_intent_of the book. Although the major saints of the universal Church are included, this book fills a vacuum by concentrating on the saints of the British Isles, the majority of which are obscure and of purely local interest and devotion. In the lives of these forgotten saints, Mr. Farmer has dug deeply through the layers of history to give us a fascinating snapshot of British piety and devotion since the earliest times. Although the tone of this book is scholarly rather than devotional, and some of the early legends and beliefs tend to amuse rather than edify, on the whole the lives of these saints cannot but inspire the faithful.
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on January 19, 2002
An excellent source for information on saints of the Roman Catholic Church and the Ortodox Church up through the Schism. It does not include saints of the Episcopal Church, but does include those popular saints such as Barbara and Christopher removed in the 1968-69 time frame. I use it in writing my monthly column for my parish newsletter.
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on November 15, 2013
This book has a TON of information on every saint you could think of, and more. My only gripe is that there is no list of saints 'by day' for Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican readers... and there are no pictures.
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on November 4, 2007
Other reviewers have cogently noted Farmer's English bias in his otherwise witty and eminently readable accounts of Saints' lives, but I might add that this fills a necessary niche in a crowded field. English and Welsh saints are lacking in many major references of this kind, and Farmer, publishing under the appropriate Oxford imprint, provides a welcome reprieve from this omission.
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on June 20, 2013
I just got this book, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, and it has bios on most of the great and known Saints and some that are pretty obscure. If you are into studying the lives of the Saints, coming to know them, or need this book to identify Relics of Saints in Reliquaries, its a pretty good book and a must for those who are seeking to study and learn about the Saints. There are many other good books on the live of the Saints, and each has Saints the others don't have, so I would advice to those seeking to know as many Saints as they can, to get all the books that have good reviews, such as this one. It has already been a help to me.
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on December 5, 2012
Compared to the Delaney Dictionary of Saints (1980) and the Walsh Dictionay (A New Dictionary of Saints East and West), a cursory review of the this Oxford Dictionary by David Farmer leads me to believe it is the best of the three; it is the more inclusive (e.g. the only one of the three with a listing for Saint Rule, who was the custodian of Saint Andrew's relics in the 4th Century.)
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on March 25, 2013
This is a must for every home bookshelf and library , get a copy today.
Not only as a reference book but a great read about who what and where in the world of Saints.
Get one keep in on hand for your next dinner party, settles that question of who did what and why.
As usual Oxford have done their best .
Well presented, easy to follow and very informative .
Neville Blachford
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