Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

David Griffiths and the Missionary "History of Madagascar."

Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

David Griffiths and the Missionary "History of Madagascar."

Article excerpt

David Griffiths and the Missionary "History of Madagascar."

By Gwyn Campbell. Leiden: Brill, 2012. Pp. xxiv, 1,177. 232 [euro]/$318.

David Griffiths and the Missionary "History of Madagascar" is a valuable contribution to the history of Christian missions. The book is divided into three sections. The first chronicles the life and work of David Griffiths, the longest-serving member of the London Missionary Society (LMS) Madagascar Mission. Campbell effectively demonstrates that mission politics and interpersonal tensions at play between Griffiths, a Welshman, and other notable LMS figures, particularly LMS Foreign Secretary William Ellis and Joseph John Freeman, had a great impact upon the official histories written detailing the first Madagascar Mission. Though Ellis had not yet visited Madagascar, he published his History of Madagascar in 1838, drawing from secondary sources and the experiences of LMS affiliates who lived there. Griffiths followed suit four years later, publishing his own monograph, Hanes Madagascar ("History of Madagascar"), entirely in Welsh. Campbell compares these two works and casts doubt on the true authorship of Ellis's official LMS history, suggesting that the book was derived chiefly from Griffiths's extensive research.

The second section includes the first-ever English translation of Griffiths's Hanes Madagascar, with the final section of the book consisting of an extensive commentary on Griffiths's work. The translation and commentary alone make this book important reading for anyone interested in nineteenth-century missionary narratives or the LMS presence in Madagascar. …

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