The Mission of the Portuguese Augustinians to Persia and Beyond (1602-1747)


In The Mission of the Portuguese Augustinians to Persia and Beyond (1602-1747), John M. Flannery describes the establishment and activities of the Portuguese Augustinian mission in Persia. Hopes of converting the Safavid ruler of the Shi’a Muslim state would come to naught, as would the attempts of Shah ‘Abbas I to use the services of the missionaries, as representatives of the Spanish Habsburgs, to forge an anti-Ottoman alliance with the papacy and the Christian rulers of Europe. Prevented from converting Muslims, the Augustinians turned their attention to Armenian and Syriac Christians in Isfahan, later also establishing new missions among Christians in Georgia and the Mandaeans of the Basra region, all of which are described herein. The history of the Augustinian Order is generally under-represented by contrast with other Orders, and this study breaks new ground in existing scholarship.

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John M. Flannery, Ph.D. (2009), Heythrop College, University of London, has published numerous articles on the history of the Portuguese Jesuits and Augustinians, the Trinitarian Order, Eastern Christianity, and aspects of the encounter between Christianity and Islam.
Flannery's study is an incisive investigation of an intruiging episode in early modern cross-cultural history, a valuable addition to the growing body of work on the rich history of relations between the Iberian Peninsula, the Persian Gulf, and Safavid Iran, and a judicious analysis of the missionary role in this encounter. It analyzes the role for Augustinians in Iran in the full awareness that their presence was deeply enmeshed with politics, and shows a fine eye for the different originas and agendas of the various orders with which they competed. It will be of great interest to scholars of church history and of early modern diplomacy, and is a must-read for anyone working on Safavid history. - Rudi Matthee, University of Delaware.

The study grounds itself firmly in archival work in Portugal, Spain, and the Vatican, and builds on an impressive array of sources... An important corrective intervention in the scholarship... The volume is more narrative than analytical, appropriately for a pioneering work, and ends with a discussion of future research. Mission encourages us to look forward to more mature scholarship from John Flannery. Luke Closse, Simon Fraser University, Britisch Columbia.

Flannery offers important reflections on a little-known mission. His work, spanning almost 150 years, creates an appetite for more volumes expanding on the themes he treats.
Steve Cochrane in International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Academic and general readers interested in the history of Christian mission, Eastern Christianity, and Christian encounter with Islam within the context of the Shi'a state of Safavid Persia.
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