Christianities in Asia

Christianities in Asia

Christianities in Asia

Christianities in Asia

Synopsis

Christianity in Asia explores the history, development, and current state of Christianity across the world's largest and most populous continent.
  • Offers detailed coverage of the growth of Christianity within South Asia; among the thousands of islands comprising Southeast Asia; and across countries whose Christian origins were historically linked, including Vietnam, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea
  • Brings together a truly international team of contributors, many of whom are natives of the countries they are writing about
  • Considers the Middle Eastern countries whose Christian roots are deepest, yet have turbulent histories and uncertain futures
  • Explores the ways in which Christians in Asian countries have received and transformed Christianity into their local or indigenous religion
  • Shows Christianity to be a vibrant contemporary movement in many Asian countries, despite its comparatively minority status in these regions

Excerpt

In 2006 Andrew Humphries, then Commissioning Editor at Blackwell Publishing, asked me if I would be interested in writing a book on Asian Christianity for a popular readership. We discussed its nature and scope and agreed that it should not simply be a historical account of Christian, mostly Western, missions in Asia, though of course such history is a necessary context to understand Asian Christianity. Rather what we envisioned is a book that presents Asian Christianity as “World Christianity,” that is, Christianity that has been received and transformed into local or contextualized Christianities, with their own ecclesiastical structures, liturgy and prayers, spirituality, theology, art and architecture, music and songs and dances, etc. The intent is to present Christianity as a vibrant contemporary religious movement.

Unfortunately that is easier said than done. Whereas it is feasible for a single author to produce a scholarly volume on European or Latin American or even African Christianity, it is impossible, I pointed out to Andrew, for a single scholar to write a reasonably satisfactory introduction to Asian Christianity. The Asian histories, cultures, religious traditions, and languages in which Christianity has taken root, probably since the first century of the Christian era, are so diverse and complex, and the geographical area to be covered so immense, that no single scholar, however gifted and well trained, would be able to produce anything more than an amateurish history of Asian Christianity. The only viable solution would be a collaborative work.

Another question is to determine what is meant by “Asia.” We decided to adopt the conventional geographical divisions of the continent. The umbrella term “Asia” includes the countries of South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka); South-East Asia (Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam); North-East Asia (China [including Hong Kong and Macau], Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Siberia, Taiwan, and Tibet); and South-West Asia (the Near and Middle East). Central Asia will not be considered, given the relatively small number of Christians there. This geographical division also determines the structure of the book. The regional division allows the possibility of highlighting common and overlapping histories and cultures . . .

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