Missionary Primitivism and Chinese Modernity

The Brethren in Twentieth-Century China


In Missionary Primitivism and Chinese Modernity: the Brethren in Twentieth-Century China, David Woodbridge offers an account of a little-known Protestant missionary group. Often depicted as extreme and marginal, the Brethren were in fact an influential force within modern evangelicalism. They sought to recreate the life of the primitive church, and to replicate the simplicity and dynamism of its missionary work.
Using newly-released archive material, Woodbridge examines the activities of Brethren missionaries in diverse locations across China, from the cosmopolitan treaty ports to the Mongolian and Tibetan frontiers. The book presents a fascinating encounter between primitivist missionaries and a modernising China, and reveals the important role of the Brethren in the development of Chinese Christianity.

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David Woodbridge received his Ph.D. (2013) from the University of Manchester. He has published on modern China, British imperialism, and the history of Christianity.
"Drawing on new archival resources, and opening up an entirely new research agenda in the field, David Woodbridge has written an outstanding new book." - Interview with Crawford Gibben, Professor of History, Queen's University Belfast, and the author, David Woodbridge, on the New Books Network.
List of Maps and Figures
Note on Sources


1 Living by Faith: Brethren Missionaries in the Modern World

2 ‘So Far from this Land as China’: the Primitivism of Watchman Nee

3 ‘To the Uttermost Part’: Reginald Sturt and the Evangelisation of the Mongols

4 Primitivism and Politics: the Echoes of Service Mission to Tibet

5 Missionary Primitivism versus Chinese Modernity: Fallout From the Withdrawal From China



This book will appeal to anyone interested in missionary history and modern China, and who wants to understand more about Chinese Christianity.
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