Asian Christian Theologies: A Research Guide to Authors, Movements, and Sources. Vol. 1: Overview from the Seventh to the Twentieth Centuries; South Asia, Austral Asia (pp. xlv, 679); vol. 2: Southeast Asia (pp. xlix, 684); vol. 3: Northeast Asia (pp. xlvii, 768). Edited by John C. England et al. Delhi: ISPCK; Quezon City: Claretian Publishers;Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2002-4. 3 vols. $40 each, or $100 for all 3 vols.
Here is a gold mine of documentation about theological developments in a region with more than half of the world's population. It is a comprehensive guide to authors, movements, and sources for research and study of Asian Christian theologies. In the foreword to volume 1, Michael Amaladoss, SJ., says, "Asian theology has come of age," and these volumes are "a precious tool that helps us to take stock of what has been so far achieved and to become aware of the road that we have so far traversed, so that we can boldly take the plunge to push forward" (p. xiii). He points out that "English is the common link language of Asia . . . but this does not mean that the theology is less Asian, for English here is less an embodiment of culture than a medium of communication"; the work draws on "the writings in many languages of the region" (p. xvi).
New Zealanders John England and his wife, Rita, who have served widely in Asia for many years, coordinated the research, writing, and editing of this project, which involved a broad network of coeditors, contributors, and consultants in virtually every country of Asia, as well as some in the West. A principal concern was "to make available as wide a range as possible of Asian Christian theologies in all their varied forms, and to provide adequate guidance for their discovery, study and research" (3:x). Special attention is given to contextualization, the work of Asian women theologians, liturgy, art, and music.
The editors suggest that the Guide could be used for country or thematic studies, study of regional movements or of selected texts, or further study of primary sources from a particular country, movement, or period. Helpful study outlines for each region and country are provided. The volumes could very well be the basic texts in a semester-long seminar on Asian Christian theologies in context.
Volume 1 begins with a 166-page overview of the groundwork and heritage of Asian regional and ecumenical theologies from the seventh to the twentieth centuries. Especially valuable here is the thorough attention given to the role and development of the East Asia Christian Conference (now the Christian Conference of Asia) and other regional ecumenical associations, along with the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences. This overview is followed by a 500-page guide to theological developments, mainly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) and Austral Asia (Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia). The survey of each country begins with a brief history of the country, a history of Christianity in the country, then the development of theological reflection in that country, highlighting theological themes, institutions, associations, and movements, with brief biographies of individual theologians that list their insights and publications. These biographical profiles are especially valuable; the chapter on India alone has more than a hundred of them. …