The interpretations, problems and possibilities of missionary sources in the history of Christianity in Africa

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Abstract

World Christianity studies have often prioritised Christian pluriformity and attended to the under-represented or marginalised. Historians seeking indigenous voices, narratives and texts frequently find an overwhelming amount of European and North American missionary sources. Scholars have often been suspicious of such sources. This chapter advocates a fresh reading of missionary sources which acknowledges their variety of genre, audience and content and which triangulates their information with other sources. Using the Church Missionary Society (CMS) sources the chapter provides a sustained micro-historical example of a close and sophisticated reading to interpret the motivations of the missionaries and the relationships between missionaries and indigenous peoples. The chapter concludes that missionary sources show both unequal power relations and cultural exchange as they reveal the historical development of Christianity as connected global movements. In taking this approach, historians can see how far indigenous peoples were drawn to a cosmopolitan and universal missionary vision.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorld Christianity
Subtitle of host publicationMethodological Considerations
EditorsMartha Frederiks, Dorottya Nagy
PublisherBrill
Chapter4
Pages92-112
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9789004444867
ISBN (Print)9789004441668
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameTheology and Mission in World Christianity
PublisherBrill
Volume19
ISSN (Print)2452-2953

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