Protestant Origins in India: Tamil Evangelical Christians, 1706-1835

Protestant Origins in India: Tamil Evangelical Christians, 1706-1835

Protestant Origins in India: Tamil Evangelical Christians, 1706-1835

Protestant Origins in India: Tamil Evangelical Christians, 1706-1835

Synopsis

D. Dennis Hudson has taught the history of religions in India at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, since 1970, where he now holds the chair in world religions.

Excerpt

This book has evolved slowly. Growing out of a long interest in the encounter of Protestant Christianity with Tamil religions and culture, it began as ‘Luther’s Voice in India’, my brief contribution to a symposium in October of 1984 commemorating the 400th anniversary of Luther’s birth. The symposium was held at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, where I teach. Nine years later I returned to that unpublished paper and made it the basis of a more extended contribution to the May 1993 seminar ‘Social Dimensions of Religious Movements’, part of the multidisciplinary team project on ‘Socio-Religious Movements and Cultural Networks in Indian Civilization’, coordinated by J. S. Grewal and held at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Rashtrapati Nivas, Shimla. That study was then published as ‘The First Protestant Mission to India: Its Social and Religious Developments’, in the Sociological Bulletin (Journal of the Indian Sociological Society) 42, nos. 1 and 2 (March-September 1993): 37–62.

Responses to that study by Tamil Protestants in Madras, eager to learn more about the history of their religious community, encouraged me to pursue it further. Robert E. Frykenberg of the University of Wisconsin at Madison provided that opportunity when, in 1994, he invited me to join his international ‘Christianity in South India Project’, sponsored by the Pew Memorial Trust. I presented portions of the expanded study in January 1997 during that project’s ‘Research Colloquium’ at the Asha Nivas Conference Center in Madras. The critical responses I received there enabled me to bring it to its present and final form.

The question in the subtitle of the original version, ‘Is the Kingdom of God Food and Drink?’ comes from Romans 14:17. There the apostle Paul dis-

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