"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Christianity in Asia and India

Though few recall the history today, it is well known among scholars of Eastern Christianity that the faith once spread as far East as Korea. At one point in the first millennium the Assyrian Church of the East had communities flung across the farthest reaches of Asia before gradually they were all lost. But today we are seeing renewed growth in Christian communities in places such as China, and renewed scholarly interest in Asian Christians. If you are interested in, broadly, Christianity in Asia, and more particularly Christianity in India, this is a good year for you to be alive as three major books are shortly to appear between late June and October. The first of these is The Oxford Handbook of Christianity in Asia (Oxford UP, 2014), 608pp.

Edited by Felix Wilfred, this large collection is described by the publisher thus:
Despite the ongoing global expansion of Christianity, there remains a lack of comprehensive scholarship on its development in Asia. This volume fills the gap by exploring the world of Asian Christianity and its manifold expressions, including worship, theology, spirituality, inter-religious relations, interventions in society, and mission. The contributors, from over twenty countries, deconstruct many of the widespread misconceptions and interpretations of Christianity in Asia. They analyze how the growth of Christian beliefs throughout the continent is linked with the socio-political and cultural processes of colonization, decolonization, modernization, democratization, identity construction of social groups, and various social movements. With a particular focus on inter-religious encounters and emerging theological and spiritual paradigms, the volume provides alternative frames for understanding the phenomenon of conversion and studies how the scriptures of other religious traditions are used in the practice of Christianity within Asia.
The Oxford Handbook of Christianity in Asia draws insightful conclusions on the historical, contemporary, and future trajectory of its subject by combining the contributions of scholars in a wide variety of disciplines, including theology, sociology, history, political science, and cultural studies. It will be an invaluable resource for understanding Christianity in a global context.
We are also given this detailed table of contents:
General introduction
Part I: Mapping of Asian Christianity
1. Christianity in West Asia - H. Teule 2. South Asian Christianity in Context - Felix Wilfred 3. Christian Minorities on the Central Asian Silk Roads - Sebastien Peyrouse 4. On the Trail of Spices: Christianity in Southeast Asia - Georg Evers 5. Identity and Marginality - Christianity in East Asia - Edmond Tang
Part II: Cross Cultural Flows and Pan-Asian Movements of Asian Christianity
6. Asian Theological Trends - Michael Amaladoss 7. Scriptural Translations and Cross-textual Hermeneutics - Archie C. C. Lee 8. The Contributions of the Asian Ecumenical Movements to World Ecumenism - Aruna Gnanadason 9. Inter-Asia Mission and Global Missionary Movements from Asia - Sebastian Kim 10. Pentecostalism and Charismatic Movements in Asia - Allan Anderson 11. Forms of Asian Indigenous Christianities - Paul Joshua 12. Gender, Sexuality, and Christian Feminist Movements - Sharon A. Bong
Part III: Asian Christianities and the Social-Cultural Processes
13. Modernity and Change of Values: Asian Christian Negotiations and Resistance - Angela Wai Ching Wong 14. Caveats to Christianization: Colonialism, Nationalism and Christian - Julius Bautista 15. Socio-Political developments in the Middle-East and Their Impact on Christian - Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid 16. Asian Christianity and Politics of Conversion - Rudi Heradia 17. Political Democratization and Asian Churches: The Case of Taiwan - Po Ho Huang 18. The Role of Christianity in Peace and Conflict in Asia - Liyanage Anthony Jude Lal Fernando 19. Christianity and the cause of Asian Women - Gemma Cruz 20. Education in Asia - Lun-Li
21. Christian Social Engagement in Asia - Felix Wilfred
Part IV: Asian Christianity in its Interaction with Asian Religious Traditions
22. Changing Paradigms of Asian Christian Attitude to Other Religions - Wesley Ariarajah 23. Jewish - Christian relationships in the West Asia - History, Major Issues, Challenges - David M. Neuhaus 24. Muslim Perceptions of Asian Christianity: A survey - Ataullah Siddiqui 25. The Multiverse of Hindu Engagement with Christianity - Ananta K. Giri 26. Christian Tradition in the Eyes of Asian Buddhists: The Case of Japan - Dennis Hirota 27. Encounter between Confucianism and Christianity - Jonatha Tan 28. Asian Christianity and Religious Conversion: Issues and Debates - Richard Fox Young 29. Asian Christian Art and Architecture - Gudrun Löwner
Part V: Some Future Trajectories of Asian Christianity
30. Christians in Asia Read Sacred Books of the East - George Gispert-Sauch 31. Multiple Religious Belonging or Complex Identity - An Asian Way - Bagus Laksana 32. Asian Christian Spirituality - Peter Phan C. 33. Asian Christian Forms of Worship and Music - Swee Hong 34. Revisiting Historiographies: New Directions - Daniel Pilario 35. Asian Christianity and Public Life -The Interplay - Felix Wilfred 36. Migration and New Cosmopolitanism in Asian Christianity - Mario Francisco 37. Western Christianity in the Light of Christianity in Asia: A Western Christian's Reflection - Francis Clooney
Statistics Tables
Coming out in July is Chad Bauman and Richard Fox Young, eds., Constructing Indian Christianities: Conversion, Culture, and Caste (Routledge, 2014), 288pp.

About this book we are told:
This volume offers insights into the current ‘public-square’ debates on Indian Christianity. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork as well as rigorous analyses, it discusses the myriad histories of Christianity in India, its everyday practice and contestations and the process of its indigenisation. It addresses complex and pertinent themes such as Dalit Indian Christianity, diasporic nationalism and conversion. The work will interest scholars and researchers of religious studies, Dalit and subaltern studies, modern Indian history, and politics.
Finally, in October, a longitudinal ethnographic study, following up on research from the middle part of the last century, will be published by Eerdmans: John Braisted Carmen and Chilkuri Vasantha Rao, Christians in South Indian Villages, 1959-2009: Decline and Revival in Telangana (2014), 256pp.

About this book we are told:
This book revisits South Indian Christian communities that were studied in 1959 and written about in Village Christians and Hindu Culture (1968). In 1959 the future of these village congregations was uncertain. Would they grow through conversions or slowly dissolve into the larger Hindu society around them?

John Carman and Chilkuri Vasantha Rao’s carefully gathered research fifty years later reveals both the decline of many older congregations and the surprising emergence of new Pentecostal and Baptist churches that emphasize the healing power of Christ. Significantly, the new congregations largely cut across caste lines, including both high castes and outcastes (Dalits).

Carman and Vasantha Rao pay particular attention to the social, political, and religious environment of these Indian village Christians, including their adaptation of indigenous Hindu practices into their Christian faith and observances.

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