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BOOK REVIEWS745 African A History ofChristianity inAfrica:FromAntiquity to the Present. By EUzabeth Isichei. (Grand Rapids:WiUiam B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; LawrencevUle, NewJersey:Africa World Press, Inc. 1995. Pp. xü, 420. $ 19.95 paper.) There has been a need for a comprehensive Introduction to the history of African Christianity ever since that continent emerged from its colonial condition to consist of a body of self-governing poUtical communities. Such a history has now been produced by Professor Isichei Ui this weU-researched volume, which has managed to cover the intended extent of both place and time in a way which is both eminently readable and most convincing. The author demonstrates howAfrica played an important role in the Mediterranean church of patristic tunes and how a connection with that era has survived in the continuing history of the monophysite Churches of Egypt and Ethiopia. The Christian tradition in most of sub-Saharan Africa, however, began a thousand years after patristic times with die advent of Portuguese imperiaUst involvement Ui the southern Western and Eastern coastal areas of the continent , and continued with other European (mainly French and British) missionary initiatives which at first accompanied and then superseded the trade Ui African slaves. The author does not gloss over the involvement of Christian clergy and laymen, Capuchins for example and pious Protestant merchants, Ui the early slave trade. It seems that the acquisition and selling of baptized slaves did not meet as much ecclesiastical censure as the temptation to seU them to purchasers from rival denominations. In what she terms "a distant forerunner of black liberation theology" Professor Isichei quotes the seventeenth-century petition to Rome by Lourenço da SUva, a black CathoUc layman, which resulted at that time in a series ofVatican propositions which would have made the slave trade "unworkable" but which were not put into practice because of the perceived commercial "need." The great movement for converting sub-Saharan Africans to Christianity came once the slave trade declined Ui the nineteenth century, and Professor Isichei gives equal weight to Protestant and to Roman CathoUc initiatives Ui this e??efG?ße. Although no longer encumbered by slavery, these activities were stUl part ofEuropean imperialist designs, and the mission ofconverting Africans to Christ was Ui some places compUcated by the presence of European settlers whose spiritual needs would compete with diose of the natives. Professor Isichei treats separately and equally ofWestern, Southern, and Eastern Africa Ui this history. She points out that Ui many cases foreign missionaries did not remain long enough to learn African languages adequately and that, even where they did, most of the conversion activity was Ui fact performed by Africans themselves. 746BOOK REVIEWS The problem of how to Christianize without Europeanizing was raised frequently as the African missions progressed. In many cases a solution was attempted by the creation of a separate African church community. The fissiparous nature of Protestantism was certainly more sympathetic to such developments , and Professor Isichei describes the many instances of such independent congregations Ui aU parts of Africa over the years, but she also points to the twentieth-century examples of separatist movements from CathoUcism. This becomes a Uvely issue in Professor Isichei's final chapter, where she examines the current situation of the estabUshed Christian churches with regard to wealtii, to women, to local politics, and to the claims of traditional African phUosophies. Altogether Professor Isichei has produced not simply a fascinating account ofrival churches UiAfrica but a convincing history ofAfrican Christianity . Brian Garvey University ofLeeds Asian A Vision Betrayed: TheJesuits inJapan and China, 1542-1742. By Andrew C. Ross. (MaryknoU, NewYork: Orbis Books. 1994. Pp. xvü, 216. $34.95.) Based principaUy on selected EngUsh-language secondary Uterature, this attempt at a "synoptic history" offers some insights about the Jesuit mission in Japan and China from the time of St. Francis Xavier to the 1742 papal buU Ex quo singulari condemning the Chinese Rites. Andrew Ross, a senior lecturer on the history of missions at the University of Edinburgh, opens with the premise that "many scholars," including Nigel Cameron and Joseph Needham, have so focused on Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) that diey have not asked how he ever came "to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 745-746
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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