Five writers inspired by faith and religion at the 2013 Edinburgh Book Festival

Colm Tóibín, John Tolan, Marina Warner, Rowan Williams and Steve Jones

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This article is from 2013.

Five writers inspired by faith and religion at the 2013 Edinburgh Book Festival

Religion and faith continue to provide rich veins of inspiration for writers the world over, as well as offering endlessly debated and provocative areas of discussion. These five events are guaranteed to provide food for thought for truth seekers of every stripe.

Rowan Williams
The former Archbishop has a unique vantage point on issues facing the established church in Britain, and is admired for the clarity of thought in his contemplative writings; this should be an insightful hour of discussion.
Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 15 Aug, 10am, £10 (£8).

John Tolan
Tolan argues that the history of East-West relations surrounding Islam is profoundly complex, and in his book Europe and the Islamic World offers a look beyond our media’s caricatured image of fundamentalism. Anyone keen to think about the far-reaching implications of organised beliefs will find much to chew on here.
Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 19 Aug, 2pm, £10 (£8).

Marina Warner
Joan of Arc and Mary the mother of Jesus, two icons of Christian tradition, have fascinated and intrigued the influential feminist writer Marina Warner so much that she wrote acclaimed and provocative books on each of them in the 70s and 80s. Warner comes to the Book Festival to delve back into their culture-shaping mythologies as the two books are published in new editions.
Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 20 Aug, 11am, £10 (£8).

Colm Tóibín
Mary is a popular figure at this year’s Festival, and will be reimagined once more as former Booker nominee Tóibín presents his new novella The Testament of Mary, in conversation with EIBF regular Richard Holloway.
Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 20 Aug, 4.30pm, £10 (£8).

Steve Jones
Steve Jones is a geneticist on a mission: to connect science and the Bible in a meaningful way. Can such a quest ever be successful? It’s that question that makes this event worthy of appearance on this list. Whatever Jones’ destination, it will be interesting to join him on the journey.
Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 23 Aug, 11.30am, £10 (£8).

This article is from 2013.

John Tolan

Much has been written and reported about the ‘clash of civilisations’ that has ruptured relations between Islam and the West. John Tolan, history professor at the Université de Nantes is one of many academics refuting this simplistic notion. In Europe and the Islamic World, Tolan and others chart 15 centuries of history…

Rowan Williams

After ten acclaimed years as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams stood down earlier this year. However, despite his great diplomatic skills, the Church of England has become an institution riven by disagreement – about gay and female bishops in particular. Today Williams is joined by Baroness Julia Neuberger…

Colm Tóibín

Are we not familiar with Mary, with the image of the mother cradling the newborn Jesus? Perhaps, but the writings of the gospels offer only a sketchy idea of the woman who conceived without original sin. Colm Tóibín’s thoughtful novella, The Testament of Mary, paints a brave and humanist portrait of a woman’s grief and…

Marina Warner

The Virgin Mary is the most visible female icon of all, yet she is presented as a woman without a history. In the 1970s, Marina Warner set out to develop a deeper understanding of her and wrote the seminal Alone of All Her Sex. In a second book, she turned to Joan of Arc, tracing portrayals of a heroic young woman across…

Steve Jones

Some feel that the Bible and science are a twain that never shall meet. But what if the ‘good book’ could be told from a modern science perspective: how would that work? This is British geneticist Steve Jones’ intriguing aim in The Serpent’s Promise, as he uses these different disciplines to make links between the origins…

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