Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Converting Colonialism: Visions and Realities in Mission History, 1706-1914

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Converting Colonialism: Visions and Realities in Mission History, 1706-1914

Article excerpt

Converting Colonialism: Visions and Realities in Mission History, 1706-1914. Edited by Dana L. Robert. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2008, Pp. x, 304. $30.00.)

The volume under consideration here is anotiier in the excellent series, Studies in the History of Christian Musions. Numbering fourteen entries, this series has done much to re-order the study of the last two centuries of missionary history and in so doing rescue the subject from the usual reductionism of post-colonial theorists, as well as the recurring triumphalism of the first generation of missionary historiography. Capably edited by Dana Robert, Converting Colonialism battens together nine wide-ranging essays covering the years from early in the eighteenth century until the outbreak of the First World War, the high period of European empire. (One says battens because the main weakness of the volume - characteristic of all such works - is the disparate nature of its offerings.) Grouped around a rather slippery theme, "Visions and Realities," the book finds itself struggling to maintain thematic unity. If read mainly as discrete pieces rather that parts of a putative whole, the essays make a marked contribution to the field. Take, for example, Andrew Porter's essay (60-85) on the interplay between millennial evangelicalism and Islam in the nineteenth century, both in Africa and other regions. One would hazard a guess that no other historian has linked these two world religions in quite the same way before. The result, in Porter's sure hands, is a careful probing of how evangelicalism's initial perceptions of Islam changed over time from one of serial denunciation to that of a desire for knowledge and some measure of accommodation. …

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