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The Theory and Practice of Missionary Identification: 1860-1920.

This volume represents an important contribution to the debate on the possibilities and extent of missionary identification with local Christians and cultures.

The format of the book is interesting. Each chapter deals with a different aspect of identification and begins with a brief survey of the ideas of each of the major missionary conferences from Liverpool 1860 to Edinburgh 1910 on the aspect of identification being discussed. It then proceeds to a detailed study of the attitudes and practice of the London Missionary Society in its work in two very different areas--Central Africa and Central China.

The format chosen by the author brings out clearly both the strengths and weaknesses of the book. The strengths are undoubtedly a real understanding of, and feel for, the subject, and an extremely able and detailed research of the material under consideration. The major weakness is that too often there is insufficient attempt to link the three parts of each chapter. In addition, the accounts of each missionary conference are extremely brief and generalized--the account of the Liverpool Conference of 1860 in chapter two is, for example, less than seven lines long (p.19).

Other minor faults blemish what is generally a solid and important work. The careless discrepancy between the dates in the title of the book (1860-1920) and those in the text (1860-1910) should not occur with an author as able and a publisher as distinguished as these. There are also too many typographical errors in a book as expensive as this, and the lack of maps of the two areas under discussion makes it difficult for readers to identify places with which they may not be familiar.

In spite of these minor faults, this is a well-researched and well-written book which will add much to our knowledge of missionary identification in Africa and China.

Jack Thompson is Lecturer in Mission, Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, England.
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Author:Thompson, Jack
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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