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Paperback A History of Christian Missions: Second Edition Book

ISBN: 0140137637

ISBN13: 9780140137637

A History of Christian Missions: Second Edition

(Book #6 in the The Penguin History of the Church Series)

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Book Overview

A History of Christian Missions traces the expansion of Christianity from its origins in the Middle East to Rome, the rest of Europe and the colonial world, and assesses its position as a major religious force worldwide. Many of the world's religions have not actively sought converts, largely because they have been too regional in character. Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, however, are the three chief exceptions to this, and Christianity...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Tour de force

Wow. A History of Christian Missions by Stephen Niell is and (in my opinion) will stay one of the great one man shows of Christian scholarship. His masterful knowledge of the subject provides for a real tour de force from beginning to end. I thought I knew afar bit on the subject. Reading this book let me realize just how little I did and do know. He touches on so many aspects of the history of Christian missions that other books just simply leave out. I have never read anyone study the influence of the Teutonic knights in the history of mission until now. He focused on the conversion of Eastern Europe in much greater detail than I have previously read. I have never read about the significance of the conversion of King Jagiello of Lithuania until now. He also breaks the mold a bit and focuses on the good aspects of European colonialism for the well being of the nation and cause of Christian mission as well as the bad aspects. He traces Christian mission all the way through the mid twentieth century and seeing as how the author as been dead for some time, we will have to be content for this book to leave out all of the significant advances of the last few decades. He does comment on modern indigenous Christian mission movements (something I did not realize was being written much about 50 years ago) and gives some warnings to potential errors. Great book. Any student of the subject will be much less informed without a reading of the book.

The History

This book is very interesting. It is written as scholarly work and takes a lot of attention to understand. But it is a great book for anyone who wants to know the history of Christian Missions from the very beginning.

Really a Master Piece!

I found the work yet unequalled among those I have read on missions. I have recommended and is recommending it to all who are intrested in the study of missions and to those who may like to why mission today is still a necessity. Eliseus.

A Condensed History

Stephen Neill provides a comprehensive look at the history of Christian missions in his book, A History of Christian Missions. From the very first Christians in Jerusalem to the spread of the faith all around the world, the author presents the facts needed to understand this remarkable expansion. The book is divided by time periods: the conquest of the Roman World (100-500 A.D.), the Dark Age (500-1000), the early European Expansion (1000-1500), the Age of Discovery (1500-1600), the Roman Catholic Missions (1600-1800), the new forces in Europe and America (1792-1858), the heyday of Colonialism (1858-1914), Rome, the Orthodox, and the world (1815-1914), and a look at contemporary missions since 1914. In each of these time periods, Neill spins the globe and offers an explanation of the mission efforts in each respective region. Because his book is fairly concise, he is able to only focus on the most novel and notable moments of Christian expansion. He does an excellent job in weeding through the vast amounts of history associated with Christian mission to show the flow and various shifts in method, means, and motivation. While this is a clearly comprehensive look at Christian missions, it is very much a history book. It is full of the facts of Christian mission - those, which encourage and those, which embarrass the Christian today. Neill offers an honest depiction of Christian missions, showing the successes and failures. This is a book that everyone should read, Christians especially. It is so important to understand how faith has reached you, and this book demonstrates this growth. Also, in reading this book, one develops more of a sense of gratitude and humility. Each phase in history was full of men and women who were ready and willing to participate in mission with the understanding that they possessed of the purpose, means, motive, and goal of Christian missions. But, Christians, this is not a book to read for daily devotional. It is not until the end of the book that the concept of God's hand in mission is considered and scripture is incorporated. This history book does end with a call to continue in the history of Christian expansion, for "there is plenty still to be done" (478).

A Great Resource for Church and Mission Historians

This book is a must have for any church historian or anyone interested in the history of Christian missions. It is concise and thorough up to the point when it was written which was the late 1960's. Stephen Neill sets out to provide a look at the entire history of Christian missions and succeeds very well. This book can be used as a reference for any student or professor of Christian missions.The layout of this book is somewhat difficult to get used to at first. Neill lays out the book in a chronological thematic format. He will start with one era and then move through the different areas of mission. For example, in the chapter on The Heyday of Colonialism, 1858-1914 Neill starts with the European background before moving through the mission efforts in other parts of the world. He starts with Japan before moving onto China, the Philippines and the rest of Asia. Then he jumps back to the beginning of the period and starts again with India before moving on to Africa and South America. In other words, it can be chronologically hard to follow at times but if you pay close attention to dates you should be able to know where you are at any given point in the book.One of the good things about Neill's layout is how he divides the chapters. They are broad, sweeping categories that, as a history major, I found easily recognizable. Sample chapter titles are: The Conquest of the Roman World, A.D. 100-500 and The Age of Discovery, 1500-1600. He details the kinds of missions that were going on during each time period, thus making it the paradigms of the times easily identifiable. Perhaps the best part of this book is seeing God's work put into a historical context. Neill makes it effortless to see God's work in the world through the various missionary movements.Neill tries to recreate the history of mission in both a biographical and in a movement oriented sense. I think he does a good job showing not only the widespread global or dominant power movements such as detailing Protestant and Catholic missions and their respective mission societies, but also relating the trials and tribulations of the individual missionaries who went out into the field; individuals such as James Hudson Taylor and Adoniram Hudson. The former founded the China Inland Mission and the latter was the first Protestant missionary to settle in Burma. These lives stories are inspiring on a personal level even though they are usually brief.This brings me to my one criticism of this book: it is too short. Neill crams almost two centuries worth of Christian missions into one 480 page book. Since his goal is only to give a concise history of the Christian mission movement this unfortunately means that he has to cram a lot of information onto every page. The biographic details of the missionaries are at a bare minimum. And at times it feels like you are simply reading one fact after another after another and you start to lose sight of the more personal element in the story.
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