A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, 1450-1990: A Documentary Sourcebook

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A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, 1450-1990: A Documentary Sourcebook. Edited by Klaus Koschorke, Frieder Ludwig, and Mariano Delgado. (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans, 2007, Pp. xxxiii, 426. $35.00.)

Mission history and global Christianity are areas of study that have captured an increasing number of scholars in recent years. Linked-as they inevitably are-to European expansion and the constituent "age of empire," such studies have done much to show the myriad ways in which Christianity both imposed itself on the imperial periphery and was taken up by local populations. Most of these studies are either biographies or histories of individual missionary societies. In the volume under review here, however, a different tack is taken. Koschorke and his fellow editors have endeavoured to strip down to the written word the entire modern Christian missionary enterprise; that is, they take over half-a-millennium's worth of missionary documents and writings and place them one after another in an edited compendium.

The editors begin with the Iberian expansion-the Portuguese move into India in the mid-fifteenth century-and their initial contact with the already resident Nestorian Christians. They then proceed to offer a documentary history of Christianity in Asia followed by the same in Africa and Latin America terminating in 1990.

One of the shortcomings of documentary studies is that almost invariably they tend to lack narrative coherence. This book is no exception, although its editors go a good distance in lessening this problem by providing brief descriptors for each group of documents. In this way the problem of context is partially addressed, although it goes without saying that a reasonable knowledge of each geographical region and historical era under examination makes the entries that much more understandable. …