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Christians, Cultural Interactions, and India's Religious Traditions. .

Edited by Judith M. Brown and Robert Eric Frykenberg. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2002. Pp. ix, 241. Paperback $35; hardback [pounds sterling]40.

The essays in this collection document aspects of the interactions of Christianity in India's modern history and indicate a considerable give-and-take between Christian faith and local cultures. The lead article, by Indira Viswanathan Peterson, is an exposition of Vedanayaka Sastri of Tanjore that refutes the charge that Christianity is an alien transplant. Richard Fox Young portrays Hinduism's discovery of Christianity and subsequent interactions. Avril A. Powell examines three protagonists, the evangelical William Muir versus two articulate modernist Islamic spokesmen, Saiyid Ahmad and Amir 'Ali, among which the Muslims emerge the victors.

John C. B. Webster explicates the role of indigenous workers as cultural mediators in the emergence of the Punjabi church. Peter B. Andersen reinterprets religious life among the Santals as an ongoing response to social and religious challenges. Bengt G. Karlsson shows that change of behavior (morality and lifestyle), as well as new beliefs, are part of the process of entering the new Christian dharma (way of life). Rather than destroying culture, Christian conversion brought direction, meaning, and cultural affirmation.

Other essays offer insights into the struggle for Christian indigeneity. Gerald Studdert-Kennedy illustrates the confusion of Christianity with colonialism in the case of High Church Anglo-Catholicism. By way of contrast, Susan Billington Harper introduces the cultural innovations of Bishop V. S. Azariah at Dornakal, where Hindu and other traditions were incorporated in new indigenous forms of Christian liturgy, architecture, and life. Michael Bergunder evaluates the political backgrounds and cultural implications of new Bible translations and concludes that there is no valid theological reason for rejecting the new "pure Tamil" translation.

Edited by Judith M. Brown, Beit Professor of Commonwealth History at the University of Oxford, and Robert Eric Frykenberg, professor emeritus of history and South Asian studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the essays in this collection are essential reading for anyone serious about knowing the place of Christianity in the history and development of India.

Roger E. Hedlund, a member of CBInternational, is Director of the Dictionary of South Asian Christianity project at the Mylapore Institute for Indigenous Studies in Chennai, India, and author and compiler of numerous works.
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Author:Hedlund, Roger E.
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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