Christianity in a New Key: New Voices and Vistas through Intercontinental Communication

Article excerpt

Edited by Daniel H. Bays. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. xxii, 483. $55.

This collection of twenty essays by twentyone authors takes the study of Christianity in China to new interpretive heights and presents novel information from rich archival and other sources helpfully laid out in a common bibliography. While not a comprehensive survey, this volume nonetheless permits a wide-ranging view with "a focus on Chinese participants" (p. x). By the mid-eighteenth century, Christianity had become an established Chinese popular religion. Although it created tensions among neighbors in Chinese communities under the Qing dynasty, Christianity itself as a rule was not the basis of local conflicts; in contrast, in post-treaty China the tendency of Chinese Christians to seek legal protection under the foreigners' privileges and to withdraw from local community customs caused rifts in Chinese society.

The editor of this volume is professor of history at the University of Kansas and was the director of the History of Christianity in China Project, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation; the project's symposia papers are the bases of the book's chapters. Bays has arranged the essays in four topical groups (Christianity and Qing society, ethnicity, women, and indigenization) tied together by his wellcrafted preface and introductions to each part. …