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Chinese Women and Christianity, 1860-1927.

This book is a must for those interested in Christianity and China, also for those working on cross-cultural Christianity and feminist theology. The author is a historian/theologian, trained at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Harvard Divinity School; she is now teaching at the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts. This book is a revision of her Harvard dissertation.

The greater portion of this work is an extremely able description of the relationships between Chinese Christian women, their faith and what it signified to them, and what this all meant in the context of Chinese society during these decades. It is a very well-grounded historical study, nuanced and insightful. Professor Kwok has made meticulous and effective use of some previously underused or altogether unused Chinese-language sources, and she does an excellent job of seeing past the foreign missionary presence to discuss what we can know about the motives, values, and agendas of Chinese Christian women. The freshness of her perspective, which underlies much of her insights, partly derives from her theological training. She is one of the very few who have combined rigorous historical and theological training with command of the Chinese language, resulting in a level of sophistication beyond what most scholars in this field could manage.

Beyond analysis of the Chinese case, the author hopes to use this case study of Third World feminist theology as a critique of Western feminist theology. The problem here is that it leads her to distort the story after 1920 by limiting discussion to only those few Chinese Christian women who were (sort of) feminists, or who had a humanistic Christology and the goal of using a "modernistic" Christianity to restructure China. But most Chinese Christian women were not in that mold; only a few were, or are today. This, and the lack of an index, are the only drawbacks to this superb study, which is unparalleled for the pre-1920 period.
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Author:Bays, Daniel H.
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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