Andrews, “Native Apostles”

Native ApostlesThis month, Harvard University Press published Native Apostles by Edward D. Andrews (Providence College). The publisher’s description follows.

As Protestantism expanded across the Atlantic world in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, most evangelists were not white Anglo-Americans, as scholars have long assumed, but members of the same groups that missionaries were trying to convert. Native Apostles offers one of the most significant untold stories in the history of early modern religious encounters, marshalling wide-ranging research to shed light on the crucial role of Native Americans, Africans, and black slaves in Protestant missionary work. The result is a pioneering view of religion’s spread through the colonial world.

From New England to the Caribbean, the Carolinas to Africa, Iroquoia to India, Protestant missions relied on long-forgotten native evangelists, who often outnumbered their white counterparts. Their ability to tap into existing networks of kinship and translate between white missionaries and potential converts made them invaluable assets and potent middlemen. Though often poor and ostracized by both whites and their own people, these diverse evangelists worked to redefine Christianity and address the challenges of slavery, dispossession, and European settlement. Far from being advocates for empire, their position as cultural intermediaries gave native apostles unique opportunities to challenge colonialism, situate indigenous peoples within a longer history of Christian brotherhood, and harness scripture to secure a place for themselves and their followers.

Native Apostles shows that John Eliot, Eleazar Wheelock, and other well-known Anglo-American missionaries must now share the historical stage with the black and Indian evangelists named Hiacoomes, Good Peter, Philip Quaque, John Quamine, and many more.

Tejirian & Simon “Conflict, Conquest, and Conversion: Two Thousand Years of Christian Missions in the Middle East”

This October, Columbia University Press will publish Conflict, Conquest, and Conversion: Two Thousand Years of Christian Missions in the Middle East by Eleanor H. Tejirian (Columbia University) and Reeva Spector Simon (Columbia University). The publisher’s description follows.

 Conflict, Conquest, and Conversion describes two thousand years of the Christian missionary enterprise in the Middle East within the context of the region’s political evolution. Its broad, rich narrative follows Christian missions as they interact with imperial powers and as the momentum of religious change shifts from Christianity to Islam and back, adding new dimensions to the history of the region and the nature of the relationship between the Middle East and the West.

Historians and political scientists increasingly recognize the importance of integrating religion into political analysis, and this volume, using long-neglected sources, provides the necessary context for this effort. It surveys Christian missions from the earliest days of Christianity to the present, with particular emphasis on the role of Christian missions, both Protestant and Catholic, in the political and economic imperialism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The authors delineate the ongoing tensions between conversion and a focus on witness and “good works” within the missionary movement, which has contributed to the development and spread of nongovernmental organizations. This volume’s systematic study offers an unparalleled encounter with the social, political, and economic consequences of these trends.