Another book I’ve been looking forward to reading for a long time. By Piers Paul Read, it looks good – a history of the Order, trying to sort fact from fantasy and hysterical accusations; not an easy task. I’ve only read 25 pages, but something in those pages has made me very happy: finally, a scholar who is sensible enough to quote from a contemporary Bible, rather than the King James! It’s a bit sad when people seem to think that you can only read the Bible with thee and thou and -est in it. Read is using the Jerusalem Bible, published in 1966; it is indeed a refreshing change. So, too, is the fact that Read does not make – or not yet, anyway – judgments about Christians and their beliefs. I’m not actually sure whether he’s a Christian being scrupulous about not making that too obvious, or whether he’s not Christian and tolerant enough to allow the Christian voice to be heard without condemnation. Either way, he’s presented a view of Christ and the early Church that’s one of the most straigh-forward and accepting I’ve ever read. Accepting in terms of ‘people believe this and who am I to nay-say’, I mean.
What this has to do with the Templars may be a good question, and it’s another thing for which I respect Read. He’s talking about this – the origin of Christianity, relations with Jews, early persecution – to give context to the formation of the Templars, and explain the background for some of the later events. As he says, some writers expect knowledge that some/many readers just won’t have, so to reach a wider audience you need to cater for them all. Even knowing half the early stuff, it’s good to be reminded, and also to read it in this context so it’s present in the mind while you read the later happenings.