Christ and Caesar in Modern Korea: A History of Christianity and Politics

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Christ and Caesar in Modern Korea: A History of Christianity and Politics.

By Wi Jo Kang. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1997. Pp. viii, 214. Paperback $19.95.

The relationship between Christianity and nationalism in twentieth-century Korea has been of extraordinary interest to historians of mission, culture, and East Asia in general. This book by Wi Jo Kang on this topic continues the author's longstanding interest in religion and politics. His book Religion and Politics in Korea Under the Japanese Rule (1986) discussed the reaction of various religious traditions in Korea to the Japanese colonial rule of Korea (1910-45) and the policies that the colonial government adopted toward the various religious traditions. This new book examines, period by period, the historical events of Korean Christian history from the introduction of Roman Catholicism in the late eighteenth century up to the middle of the presidency of Kim Youngsam (1993-98). The book is wide-ranging, bringing together a variety of historical events.

Unfortunately, Christ and Caesar neither introduces facts not already known and readily available elsewhere nor offers a strong historical analysis of the role of the Christian religion in Korea. The greatest weakness of this book is the lack of any historical analysis. It is principally a collection of facts assembled period-byperiod in chronological order. No underlying theme is discerned, nor is any critical interpretation of the events offered. In addition, the style of writing tends to be colloquial and to abound in unsupported, sweeping terms that, if not actually historically inaccurate (which is the case in some instances), can certainly be misleading. …