Western Jesuit Scholars in India

Tracing Their Paths, Reassessing Their Goals


This book collects fifteen essays and book sections about the Jesuits in India written over a period of more than thirty years. Many of these pieces, unavailable for years, now appear together for the first time. The essays open a window on the 450-year Jesuit history in India, from Roberto de Nobili in the seventeenth century to the leading Jesuit scholars of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The volume looks back into this long missionary history, but Clooney’s eye is also on the question of relevance today: How ought interreligious learning take place in the twenty-first century?

“Western Jesuit Scholars in India is a fascinating collection of studies of 17th-21st century Jesuit writings in and about classical India. By his methods and questions, Francis Clooney, Indologist and Jesuit theologian, exposes certain aporias and deficiencies latent in Indology. It concludes with a notable proposal of an interfaith sensibility.”
Gérard Colas, Directeur de recherche émérité, Centre National de la Recherche scientifique, Paris

“Francis X. Clooney’s Western Jesuit Scholars in India is that of a humanist. He is not only a studious and assiduous reader of texts in languages and intellectual idioms that few scholars are capable of untangling, but is also committed to finding deep human and spiritual connections, detecting the intellectual empathies and affinities that the Jesuit missionaries had labored to bring out in their writings over half a millennium. With a clear and engaging pen, impressive erudition, and intellectual humility before the truly difficult task, Clooney studies what is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating chapters in Jesuit intellectual history, the encounter with Indian philosophical and textual traditions. Seekers of knowledge and cultural understanding of all stripes will find in this book plenty of wisdom, some surprises, and a large historical canvas stretching from Italy to India and back, and beyond.”
Ines G. Županov, Senior Fellow, Centre d’études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud, CNRS, Paris

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Francis X. Clooney, S.J., is the Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard University. His research interests and numerous publications focus on classical Hinduism, comparative theological reflection on Hinduism and Christianity, and missionary–Hindu encounters. His books include The Future of Hindu–Christian Studies: A Theological Inquiry (London: Routledge, 2017) and Reading the Hindu and Christian Classics: Why and How Deep Learning Still Matters (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019).
Western Jesuit Scholars in India is an eminently readable critical survey of four centuries of Jesuit scholarship in India. […] This work will be a valuable resource for scholars of religious studies, South Asian literature, translation and intercultural studies, Catholic theology, and to those interested in the history of the Catholic Church in India.”
Annie Rachel Royson, Pandit Deendayal Energy University. In: Journal of Jesuit Studies, Vol. 8, No. 2 (2021), pp. 314–316.

“This important collection continues a tradition of Western Jesuit scholarship in India, begun in the sixteenth century. It also opens a window onto the works of twenty-first century scholars who continue the practice of missionary scholarship with an indological and theological approach. There is much yet to be discovered and debated.”
Antony Mecherry S.J., Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome. In: Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu, Vol. 90, fasc. 179 (2021–I), pp. 153–158.


1. Christ as the Divine Guru in the Theology of Roberto de Nobili
2. Roberto de Nobili, Adaptation, and the Reasonable Interpretation of Religion
3. Translating the Good: Roberto de Nobili’s Moral Argument and Jesuit Education Today
4. Religious Memory and the Pluralism of Readings: Reflections on Roberto de Nobili and the Taittirīya Upaniṣad
5. Roberto de Nobili’s Dialogue on Eternal Life and an Early Jesuit Evaluation of Religion in South India
6. Yes to Caste, No to Religion? Or Perhaps the Reverse: Re-using Roberto de Nobili’s Distinctions among Morality, Caste, and Religion
7. Understanding in Order to Be Understood, Refusing to Understand in Order to Convert
8. From Apologetics to Indology: A Case Study in the Scholarship of Roberto de Nobili
9. Excerpts from Fr. Bouchet’s India: An Eighteenth-Century Jesuit’s Encounter with Hinduism
10. Jesuit Intellectual Practice in Early Modernity: The Pan-Asian Argument against Rebirth
11. Some Reflections on Caste according to Fr. Joseph Bertrand, S.J., Nineteenth-Century French Jesuit
12. Alienation, Xenophilia, and Coming Home: William Wallace’s From Evangelical to Catholic by Way of the East
13. Excerpt from the “Jesuit Study of Hinduism: An Admirable and Imperfect Model for Hindu–Christian Studies”
14. The Ignatian Repetitio, One-Pointedness, and Interreligious Learning
15. Finding God in All Things: Some Catholic and Hindu Insights

Readers interested in the history and theology of Catholicism in India; in the history and global network of the Society of Jesus; in Hindu-Christian encounters, in history and now; readers interested in the encounter of cultures more broadly, the problem of translation, the role of reason crossculturally. Graduate students in religious studies and global history of colonialism.
  • Collapse
  • Expand