Things Celtic are the rage today, whether it's Celtic spirituality, Celtic music, or Celtic history. Celts have been trending for a number of years, in fact. A September 1998 search on turned up 1,200 books that have something to do with the word Celtic.

A search of "Jesus Christ" on revealed only 896 web sites, but a search of "Celtic" turned up nearly a thousand (976).

The first Europeans

The original Celts were tribes that emerged from central Europe about 1000 B.C. and spread over much of Europe by 300 B.C. They shared a common language and, in large degree, a common culture—but not a common name. They were called Keltoi or Galatians by the Greeks and Gauls or the Galli by the Romans, who thought of them as a brutal, militaristic people.

Maybe that's because Rome, and Julius Caesar in particular, spent a lot of money and men repelling their incessant attacks (recorded in one of the most famous Latin works, Caesar's commentary on the Gallic Wars).

When the Romans finally proved victorious, the Celts retreated to what was then considered the edge of civilization: areas we now call England, Scotland, and Ireland.

"You foolish Celts!"

The Celts who defeated Greek armies in Asia Minor liked what they saw and settled down in an area that became Galatia. It is possible that some of the converts the apostle Paul scolds in his letter ("You foolish Galatians!") were descendants of Celts.

Peaceable kingdom

The Celts of Ireland were the first major people group to be evangelized successfully without violence. For a culture so reputedly bloodthirsty and "barbarian," this was some accomplishment.

Patrick paradoxes

Patrick, the Catholic patron saint of the ...

Subscriber Access OnlyYou have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Already a CT subscriber? for full digital access.