Can a self-confessed murderer become a priest? What would the church - or the bible - say about that? And what if his crime was a most unusual crime indeed...
In 1969, James Nelson confessed to murder, served a prison sentence, then applied to be ordained as a minster in the Scottish Church (The Kirk). The case split the church in two, and challenged the institution to consider its most basic functions, obligations and duties. Part of the problem was that James Nelson's crime was no ordinary crime. The bible has a lot to say about murder, but not about this particular variety of murder.
Stuart Kelly uses the case of Nelson to write a compelling history of the church in Scotland, of biblical and literary accounts of forgiveness and sin. The Minister and The Murderer is a gripping piece of literary detective work weaving textual analysis with memoir and narrative non-fiction. This is a book of soul-searching and speculation, deep thinking and fine writing. It is a knotty, riveting and mind-expanding investigation of truth and faith.
Stuart Kelly is a Scottish critic and author. His works include The Book Of Lost Books: An Incomplete Guide To All The Books You'll Never Read and Scott-Land: The Man Who Invented A Nation, which was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson. Literary editor of the Scotsman, Kelly also writes for Scotland on Sunday, the Guardian and The Times. In 2014 he was a judge for the Man Booker Prize.