Salo W. Baron was considered the greatest Jewish historian of the twentieth century. He laid the ground work for how Jews perceive themselves and are perceived by others. The present series publishes new perspectives in the research on the Jewish experience of both distinguished and aspiring scholars who continue Salo Baron’s work. Contributions to the series focus on the relationship of Jews and non-Jews and perceptions and understandings of Judaism, including but not limited to the history, culture, religion, and institutions of the Jewish people, as well as on their persecution.
This article explores the emergence of Protestantism in West Africa in the 17th century, using both primary and secondary sources. Its central argument is that the history of Protestantism in early modern Africa has mainly been examined within the paradigm of mission history, thus reducing the history of Protestantism to a history of Protestant missionary endeavors. By intersecting three complementary windows, – a Roman Catholic window, a chartered company window and a Euro-African window –, the article traces the wider history of Protestantism in early modern West Africa. It maps the impact of Protestantism on Roman Catholics in West Africa, sketches the significance of Protestantism for certain Euro-Africans, and shows that through a combination of dispersion, procreation and mission Protestantism became a reality in West Africa as early as the 17th century.
Taking the scriptural concept of the ‘heathen’ as its starting point, this article investigates the attitudes of Protestant ministers and parishioners in England towards the conversion of indigenous non-Christian people in colonial New England during the years of the English republic from 1649 to 1660. The article examines Psalm 2 as a framework within which churchgoers interpreted non-Christianity, before turning to the fragmentary prosopography of parishioners who donated money towards the cause of religious expansion. Illuminating the practical strategies that the new government developed as its pursuit of legitimacy intersected with attitudes towards evangelism overseas, the article demonstrates the ways in which liturgical, pastoral, political and socio-economic circumstances shaped local engagement with the wider Atlantic world. It suggests that English support for the propagation of the gospel emerged from profound theological ambivalence as animosity towards non-believers co-existed with the conviction that some among them could convert and might be saved.
Christianity and the environment have a tense relationship. Although in recent years an eco-theology of stewardship has taken flight, according to theologians as well as philosophers the historical track record of Christians with regard to nature in general and animals in particular leaves much to be desired. However, this view has never been empirically tested. In this article three early modern accounts of Protestant missionaries who lived in Greenland, New Netherland (North America) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) are analysed in order to uncover attitudes towards animals. The accounts describe local fauna, reflect upon the way in which animals are treated and discuss ‘pagan’ attitudes towards animals. The concepts of tropicality and arcticality are used to help to frame the missionaries’ views on animals in terms of othering non-European fauna. The article concludes that the critique of Christianity’s track record is essentially justified, but also that it was more nuanced and complex than has hitherto been thought. As such, the early modern missionary accounts’ focus on wildlife may well serve as a source of inspiration for present-day missionary organizations.
James II’s reign opened up space for Catholic mission activity within England. Priests, both foreign and English-born, set up public worship services that were open for visitors to attend. A wave of pamphlets explaining the Roman Catholic faith rolled over the country, and converts were encouraged to publish their stories of leaving Protestantism. Schools were opened, apparently attended by both Catholics and Protestants. And the important pastoral work of invigorating English Catholics, educating them and encouraging them in piety, began. Devout Protestants immediately recognized the efficacy of these missions and admired how quickly they worked. Beginning in the reign of James, they argued that they should also be doing such missional work. This paper looks at what Catholics prioritized in their work in England under James II, and how English Protestants referenced those examples in their own work after 1688.
The relationship between the Anglo-Scottish Ultra-Ganges Mission and the Dutch missionaries in South East Asia, both missions based at Batavia and at Melaka (Malacca), could be described as “distant but cordial” – even during times of colonial conflict – but the same cannot always be said about the internal conditions of the British mission. This article will attempt to place the relationship between the Anglo-Dutch missionary enterprises into a historical context which includes the complex networks built up by the missionaries with the colonial administrations, as well as with the local Malay and Chinese communities. Ultimately, the success of their mission depended as much on such external factors as on the internal cohesion between the individual missionaries. Much of the historical sources for this article has been derived from the Special Collections archives kept at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.