A Social History of Christianity: North-West India since 1800

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A Social History of Christianity: North-West India Since 1800. By John C. B. Webster. New Delhi: Oxford Univ. Press, 2007. Pp. xiv, 410. Rs 695 / $55.

John Webster, who went as a missionary to Punjab, India, in 1963, has pondered the subject matter of this volume for over forty years. The richness, complexity, and maturity of thought that can develop over such a long period of time are wonderfully evident in this work. A Social History of Christianity is thoroughly researched, well organized, and lucidly written.

After an introduction that deals with historiographical issues, Webster proceeds to unfold the history of Christianity in Northwest India in five chronologically arranged chapters: "The Beginnings: 1800-1857," "The High Imperial Era: 1858-80," "The North-West in Ferment: 1881-1918," "Towards Independence and Partition: 1919^7," and "Christianity in North-West India Since Independence." A concluding chapter nicely develops some important themes from the overall history, and the book ends with a glossary, bibliography, and index.

A number of features greatly strengthen this particular history of Christianity. The first is that it is set in the changing social, political, economic, and religious context of Northwest India. Christianity is thus rightly seen as part and parcel of a much larger and variegated tapestry of society over time. …