Item description for New Faith in Ancient Lands: Western Missions in the Middle East in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (Studies in Christian Mission) by Heleen L. Murre-van Den Berg...
Over the centuries, the Middle East has held an important place in the religious consciousness of many Christians in West and East. In the nineteenth century, these interests culminated in extensive missionary work of Protestant and Roman Catholic organisations, among Eastern Christians, Muslims and Jews. The present volume, in articles written by an international group of scholars, discusses themes like the historical background of Christian geopiety among Roman Catholics and Protestants, and the internal tensions and conflicting aims of missions and missionaries, such as between nationalist and internationalist interests, between various rival organisations and between conversionalist and civilizational aims of missions in the Ottoman Empire. In a synthetic overview and a comprehensive bibliography an up-to-date introduction into this field is provided.
Contributors include: Bernard Heyberger, Chantal Verdeil, Giuseppe Buffon, Anthony O'Mahony, Nancy L. Stockdale, Philippe Bourmaud, Roland Lffler, Martin Tamcke, Uwe Kaminsky, Habib Badr, Barbara J. Merguerian, Ellen Fleischmann, Umar Ry and Heleen Murre-van den Berg.
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Studio: Brill Academic Publishers
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.5" Weight: 1.75 lbs.
Release Date Nov 15, 2006
Publisher Brill Academic Publishers
ISBN 900415471X ISBN13 9789004154711
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Old and New Stories in New Faith in Ancient Lands May 5, 2007
It is a common conceit that our problems are unique in human history. One of the reasons for studying history, of course, is to deflate that conceit by finding the overarching stories that have been part of human history for millenia. New Faith in Ancient Lands accomplishes this by giving historical insight into West/East religious encounters in the past two hundred years that evoke parallels with what we see in the news today.
Consider the story of Pope Gregory XIII who in 1582 sent two papal legates to the Coptic patriarch John XIV. In the middle of negotiations with the Coptic Church synod, John XIV mysteriously died. The legates were immediately arrested as spies and were not released until a ransom of 5,000 gold pieces was paid. As Anthony O'Mahony summarizes the end result of this attempt at reunion, "The results of the attempt at reunion remained ambiguous and contested through mutual lack of understanding between the two parties." (p.94)
Or consider the fate of Miss Matilda Creasy, one of the first female English missionaries to Jerusalem. Creasy became the treasurer for the Sarah Society, and partnered proselytization with the charitable work of the society. Most of the Sarah Society's money went to feed and clothe the poor women of the Jewish Quarter. On September 9, 1858, Matilda Creasy's beaten body was found outside the city of Jerusalem. Efforts to investigate the murder led to conflict between the Ta'amri Bedouin and the Ottoman government, resulting in the death of four of the Ottomon soldiers. No one was ever convicted for Miss Matilda Creasy's murder, but unflattering portraits of the Holy Land as a murderous land lived long after her.
Nor are all the stories negative: Consider the works of the Kaiserswerth Deaconess Institution. Founded in 1836 in Kaiserswerth Germany and funded by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, the Kaiserswerth deaconesses worked to establish the Orientarbeit, an educational and nursing program in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire. Part of the Deaconness Institution mission was to raise up sisters from the local population. This partnership with local peoples contributed to the longevity of the Orientarbeit, and the last Kaiserswerth deaconess retired in 1974.
As Murre-van den Berg writes in her introduction, "There can be little doubt that the nineteenth century, like the early stages of the Crusader period, constituted a time in which influences and developments from many different parts of society contributed to an ever-increasing Christian interest in the Middle East." (p.17) The stories collected in this volume capture well the ambiguity, the struggles, and the seemingly few successes of Western missionary efforts in the Middle East. They are apt tales for our time.