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Even when dealing with European or North American Protestant mission organisations, these are, by and large, stories that keep African Christians as their primary focus. 14 E.g. Rather than the elusive notion of the nation-state, the local world of the mission station – or for the fortunate few who owned land themselves, their farms – was the pivot of their Christianity and their daily lives. 31 P. Walshe, ‘Christianity and the Anti-Apartheid Struggle: The Prophetic Voice within Divided Churches’, in Elphick and Davenport, Christianity in South Africa, 383–399. Finally, in closing, while the pages above have discussed some of the areas of innovation and pioneering scholarship represented by the articles in this special issue, it is important also to note areas of omission and silence, topics where a great deal more future research is still a necessary and urgent task. In brief, the core features of this several-hundred-year-old Protestant tradition were its attachment to the primacy of individual conscience rather than to church tradition, and to the authority of the scriptures instead of the weight of clerical pronouncement.1 In the following essays, then, a widely-circulating transnational arsenal of religious ideas loosely clustered under twin themes of conscience and scriptures assumes new importance, and conversely, the all-determining power of ‘indigeneity’ (or the supposed lack of it, for those Christians linked to mission churches) recedes into the background. In like fashion, Houle recasts the spatial imagination of the Christians he studies even further, giving material form to inner faith, as the walls, floors and roofs of church buildings could be the contested focus of struggles between black members of the American Zulu Mission and early twentieth-century North American missionaries. Instead, scholars of mission Christianity are increasingly demonstrating how Christians linked to mission stations were frequently staunch defenders of ‘custom’ and ‘tradition’, although put to use in new contexts and invested with fresh meaning.11 Yet, scholarship on the so-called ‘independent’ churches remains woefully behind these reassessments of mission Christianity, with most research still persisting in typing these Christians as somehow more ‘indigenous’ or ‘African’ then their brethren loyal to the historic mission churches.12 Furthermore, the literature still tends to portray independent Christians in South Africa as highly insular and localised, unaware of international currents of Christian thought and practice. From about 500AD Bantu speaking people from Central and Eastern Africa had migrated into South Africa. Other articles in the collection – see Dee ‘s contribution, for example – emphasise the fluid exchanges between South African Christians and regional neighbours closer to home than North America, such as present-day Malawi, or Nyasaland. 46 I. Hofmeyr, The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of the Pilgrim’s Progress (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2003). Also, N. Erlank, ‘God’s Family in the World: Transnational and Local Ecumenism’s Impact on Inter-Church and Inter-Racial Dialogue in South Africa in the 1920s and 1930s’, South African Historical Journal, 61, 2 (2009), 278–297; J. Cabrita, ‘Christian Ecumenism, Swazi Nationalism and a Unified Church for a Unified Nation’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 44, 2 (forthcoming 2018). The history of Christianity in Africa probably began during the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, two thousand years ago. For one, while we have chosen to exclusively focus upon Protestants, there needs to be far more scholarly engagement with the ways in which Catholics, as well as Orthodox Christians in South Africa, co-existed with Protestants on a complex scale of continuity and difference. Google Scholar Nürnberger, K. (1975), ‘The Sotho notion of the Supreme Being under the impact of the Christian Proclamation’, Journal of Religion in Africa , Vol. The Alexandria-based church initially used Greek, and it was not until the late 2nd century that both the liturgy and the scriptures were translated into three native languages. Once again, Sundkler’s typology reveals itself to have limited utility in portraying a highly fluid and nuanced Protestant landscape marked by exchange, movement and connections. Christianity, the faith of almost three-quarters of the diverse South African population, has long been pushed to the margins of historical writing on South Africa, yet for more than two centuries it has shaped South African society and its diverse subcultures. Spear and I.N. The best available short introduction to South African church history is Peter Hinchliff’s very readable The Church in South Africa (London: S.P.C.K., 1968). Christianity in Africa arrived in Egypt in the middle of the 1st century. Volume 2: 1885–1994. Categories: History. This was so long before the advent of Christianity and the African world view is at many points more consistent with the biblical world … Norman, E. (1981), Christianity in the Southern Hemisphere: The churches in Latin American and South Africa (Oxford: Clarendon). Historians have largely left the complicated, imbricated and heterogeneous histories of Christianity in South Africa to theologians and religious studies scholars, whose work tends to be published in local South African journals where historical attention is often secondary to theological interpretation. For one, biblical tropes were frequently mobilised by those actively resisting the apartheid government. 21 The quote here is from Dlamini, who is quoting H.-J. As we shall see in Dlamini’s article on Christian healing therapies in Southern Africa, Christians’ imaginaries frequently challenged the teleological narratives of nationalists, including – via their espousal of divine healing – black nationalists’ advocacy of the role of scientific-medical progress in the development of the modern nation-state. Its theological justification was formulated by Christian theologians such as Totius or E. P. Groenewald. The legend of Prester John was popular across Europe, but interpreted differently. A similar dynamic is at work in Robert Houle’s article. Some said he was in Asia or India, but the Portuguese believed he was in Africa. And Henry Dee, by providing us with an example of the lively Pentecostal and independent church scene in Johannesburg of the interwar decades, illuminates the importance of belief in the Holy Spirit for Christians from across a wide range of denominations. Includes 26 maps. It is believed that Mark the Evangelist brought Christianity from Jerusalem to Alexandria in the year 43 before becoming the first bishop to serve the Alexandria Orthodox Church. If Protestantism itself is taken as the object of study – rather than a particular denomination, or a supposed affinity for either an ‘African’ or a ‘Western’ style of worship – very different insights might emerge into how this tradition has played out in twentieth-century South Africa. Paradoxically, however, it was these same departments and faculties that became some of the strongest critics of the apartheid state, many influenced by the radical tenets of liberation theology and with many theological faculty heavily involved in authoring the Kairos Document of 1986, a statement put forward by progressive African leaders in the church about the need for action against injustice and racial discrimination.31 While these theologians were adamant that Christianity in South Africa had great political saliency (invoking the model of Christ as a prophetic critic of institutionalised state power), the effect of so much in-depth scholarship on Christianity occurring in theology and religion departments was the effective insulation of theologians’ findings from broader currents of scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. Africa, Southern--History. Dubow, Saul. Indeed, signs are afoot that historians and anthropologists of the region are increasingly recognising this fact; a recent efflorescence of scholarship on Christian ecumenical projects in Southern Africa indicates a growing awareness of the significance in drawing pan-denominational connections.25, The value, however, of a social history approach to the twentieth century that foregrounds religion and identities rooted in faith, is far from self-evident. 2004. Christianity would have begun as a religion when the people who have met Christ shared their experiences with other Africans. While Christians may have come to represent a majority religious group in South Africa over the course of the twentieth century, there were also significant religious minorities, and the history of Christians’ interactions with these groups is a largely untold story. But the history of South African Christianity is found for the most part in local, or 'micro' narratives, while the highly elaborated 'macro' narratives of colonialism, capitalism, and liberation - the backbone of the conventional histories of South Africa - assign Christianity a marginal role, or no role at all. Dr Roy does not shy away from the failures and sins of the participants in this story that intertwines with the history of the peoples and tribes in South Africa. This chapter traces the history of black women’s entry into public print culture in 1930s South Africa, focusing in particular on the weekly national newspaper, The Bantu World. 10 See next footnote, also J. Cabrita, The People’s Zion: Southern Africa, the United States, and a Transatlantic Faith-Healing Movement (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2018). Formal examination of the subject was initiated by missionaries and their supporters and gave rise to what might be called the metropolitan-ecclesiastical school of mission history. Other authors usefully soften the distinction between ‘independent’ and ‘mission’ Christian, pointing to the extensive autonomy and dissatisfaction that existed within the ranks of those loyal to mission churches, as is the case with Robert Houle’s contribution. Sidestepping this polarising perspective, we seek to afford more analytical weight to the saliency of a global Protestant repertoire of ideas and practices for ordinary South Africans drawn from across a range of geographical regions, class, racial and linguistic backgrounds and political commitments. Dlamini’s article, though shows that even transatlantic connections can be pulled into the insignificance in the three-way pull that existed between the British, the Church of the Nazarene, and missionary medicine in Swaziland. In the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century, the large mission churches often found themselves unable to admit crisis within their ranks, instead attributing schism and independence to the dangerous and destabilising notion of an African nationalism rather than to the inadequacy of their love of Jesus. This work was supported by a British Academy Newton Mobility Grant [RG82431]. Some of this is individual. In fact, the more concerted an effort to defend an institution, the more likely it was that the institution might be suffering from internal crisis. Moreover, there is a long tradition of history – especially in South Africa – as an activist Marxist-inflected discipline, part of the broader project of undermining the legitimacy of the apartheid state and subverting its official and unofficial historians’ narratives of Afrikaner supremacy and conquest.28 While it is undeniably the case that since the 1980s much social history has been carried out alongside research into political economy, capitalism and the state, the place of Christianity in this radical Marxist strand of history is nonetheless a deeply ambivalent one, vulnerable to the suspicion that religious commitment embodies false consciousness. We have always been a deeply religious people. R. Muller, African Pilgrimage: Ritual Travel in South Africa’s Christianity of Zion (Burlington: Ashgate, 2011). In this clear and readable history of Christianity in South Africa, Kevin Roy answers these questions with comprehensive, succinct and rigorous historical analysis with sympathy and honesty. Department of History, University of Texas at Austin, USA. Instead, they attend to complex, overlapping chronologies, and to the persistence of older forms of religious life in the present day, as well as the foreshadowing of ‘new’ Pentecostal denominations in earlier periods (see Duff and Dee). Sundkler, an employee of and later director in the research division of the International Missionary Council, is widely recognised for his pioneering work in African Christianity.7 And although developed with regard to South Africa, Sundkler’s model rapidly gained pan-African traction, being applied to diverse case studies of Christians across the continent. 2 Ryrie, Protestants; Frances Fitzgerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017). Register to receive personalised research and resources by email, New Histories of Christianity in South Africa: Review and introduction, University of Cambridge; University of Johannesburg. 27 T. Lodge, Black Politics in South Africa since 1945 (Longman: London, 1983); and more recently T. Simpson, Umkhonto We Sizwe: The ANC’s Armed Struggle (Cape Town: Penguin Books, 2016). However, the story these scholars tell is a documentary story based on a collection of about 5000 documents relevant to the role of Christianity in the history of South Africa. It begins with an account of two workshops in Cambridge and Johannesburg, where all the authors in this special issue presented. Amongst people subdued by Roman authority in North Africa (Aegyptus, Cyrenaica, Africa, Numidia, and Mauritania) Christianity quickly became a religion of protest—it was a reason for them to ignore the requirement to honor the Roman Emperor through sacrificial ceremonies. But, the nation-state was not the sole nor even the most important catalyst for the formation of Christians’ imagination, nor did the boundaries of the territories of the colonial era or the Bantustans of the apartheid state determine the borders of Christian piety. It begins with an account of two workshops in Cambridge and Johannesburg, where all the authors in this special issue presented. A History of African Christianity, 1950–1975. 1500–1650. Many of the authors in this special issue show that Christians’ spatial imaginations could be focused at scales that were simultaneously much smaller and much larger than that of the nation-state. Sundkler defined the former group as interested in African autonomy in ecclesial affairs but essentially loyal to the theology and practices of the Western mission churches: ‘their church organization and Bible interpretation are largely copied from the patterns of the Protestant Mission Churches from which they have seceded.’ The second group – Zionist Christians – were cast as far more daring in their willingness to experiment with incorporating local culture and tradition into their Christianity: ‘theologically, the Zionists are now a syncretistic Bantu movement.’8 It is important to note that even while formulating a typology that would over time come to be used in increasingly restrictive ways by scholars, Sundkler himself recognised the limitations of the categories. 55 E.g. As Sithole observes, such work may ‘tend to reflect more of [scholars’] preoccupations and the demands of academia’ than the internal dynamics of these churches themselves.45 The significance of the state and the political and economic conditions it imposed upon Africans was indisputable; these provided the conditions and the milieu within which Christianity across the region assumed the particular shape it did. This article charts recent developments in the history of Christianity in South Africa, while also offering a corrective to some of the orthodoxy on the history of Christianity. This special issue on new directions in the study of Christianity in South Africa affords new prominence to the historical importance of Protestant Christianity in the country. One example of a less explicitly denomination-focused approach might be to consider how these key characteristics have shaped the nature and history of Christian commitment in South Africa. 1500–1650. This article charts recent developments in the history of Christianity in South Africa, while also offering a corrective to some of the orthodoxy on the history of Christianity. The most read article (collected from online metrics) in the South African Historical Journal is P.S. At the same time, however, they also showed how this ‘long conversation’ between missionaries and Tswana converts resulted in ‘new hybrids’ and novel forms of cultural practice on both sides, transforming both Christianity and African culture alike.34. Christianity arrived in South Africa with settlers from Europe, starting with Jan van Riebeeck in 1652, when Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC, Dutch East India Company) authorized him to establish a post to resupply food and fuel to ships traveling between the Netherlands and Southeast and South Asia. As he ‘hastened to add’ in Bantu Prophets, some Zionist Churches are gradually becoming more and more ‘Ethiopian’ in ideology and behaviour. The history of Zionists in South Africa was one of a complex and ongoing relationship (frequently fraught) between African Zionists in South Africa and their counterparts in Zion, Illinois. Christianity did not precede the working of God and the Holy Spirit among Africans. Unsurprisingly, theologians’ emphasis upon culture – at the expense of politically salient deconstructive readings of culture – did little to refute portrayals of Christians as disengaged from hard political realities. converted to Christianity. Introduction 2. The Spread of Islamic Civilization 4. London: Routledge, 1992. Pre-history: By 100,000BC the San people had settle in southern Africa. Vol 2 should not be seen in isolation. Graphic Violence ; Graphic Sexual Content ; texts. An overwhelming focus on stories of class and capital made many South African readers uneasy with the Comaroffs’ virtually exclusive focus on areas of black society they had long considered peripheral to the business of resistance and protest. On the one hand, these were the years during which South Africanist historians were awash with excitement regarding the discovery of the ‘invention of tradition’ – or the ways in which ethnic, linguistic and cultural identities were increasingly viewed as the manufactured creations of both colonial administrators and local elites, rather than the timeless vestiges of an ‘authentic’ African past.32 This approach, moreover, had political saliency, being directly linked to historians’ efforts to combat the apartheid state’s official reading of racial and ethnic identities as entrenched in history and in geography. This is an expansive, malleable term that does not carry with it predetermined notions of what ‘counts’ in terms of public action, yet it still prioritises the process by which people, ideas, events and practices move outside of the private realm to assume public mass significance.55 One of the themes of this special issue is the way in which the personal, interior piety of many Christians has had enormously transformative social consequences and effects. On the 12th of September 2014, a six-story church hostel collapsed suddenly in Lagos, Nigeria, killing 116 people, 85 of whom were South African. On the 12th of September 2014, a six-story church hostel collapsed suddenly in Lagos, Nigeria, killing 116 people, 85 of whom were South African. 12 E.g. Until the political transition in the 1990s, governance was not secular. New Histories of Christianity in South A .... : New Histories of South African Christianity, Christianity and resistance in South African historiography. And although not dealt with explicitly by any of the authors in this special issue, recent developments within the Pentecostal churches themselves blur the often-taken-for-granted line between ‘mission’ and ‘independent’ church. As regards the use of this guide we want to make the following comments. Becken, ‘ ‘Give Me Water, Woman of Samaria’: The Pilgrimage of Southern African Blacks in the 1980s’, Journal of Religion in Africa 14, 2 (1983), 115–129, https://doi.org/10.2307/1581229. South Africa, which are the subjects of separate histories. More broadly, transnationalism has become a theme that increasingly preoccupies historians of South Africa, with studies abounding of exchanges transatlantic exchanges,46 new histories of the Indian Ocean,47 and a revisionary perspective aimed at overcoming the isolationist tendency in much South African scholarship by viewing the country in the context of its relationships with its regional neighbours.48 Indeed, the notion of South Africa as a static territorial-political unit with discrete immovable borders is far from the whole story. It is present, by implication, in Jacob Dlamini’s first book, Native Nostalgia, which argues forcefully against reducing all African experience co-terminus with apartheid to an effect of apartheid only.43 A recent study of an art school for the training of African art teachers in mid-twentieth-century rural KwaZulu-Natal shifts attention from the dominant narrative of apartheid oppression and black resistance to instead examine the seemingly apolitical acts of this small community of artists who focused upon small-scale aesthetic projects and their acquisition of crafts and technical skills.44. 56 C. Burlacioiu, ‘Expansion Without Western Missionary Agency and Constructing Confessional Identities: The African Orthodox Church Between the United States, South Africa, and East Africa (1921–1940)’, Journal of World Christianity, 6, 1 (2016), 82, doi:10.5325/JWORLCHRI.6.1.0082. 26 G. Vahed, ‘Mosques, Mawlanas and Muharram: Indian Islam in Colonial Natal, 1860–1910’, Journal of Religion in Africa 31, 3 (2001), 305–335; G.H. It was a direct statement against Roman rule. South Africa has a rich Christian Israelite history. He returned to South Africa towards the end of the same year. A history of Christian missions in South Africa Item Preview remove-circle Share or Embed This Item . One way to take the measure of this Christian venue-hopping is to consider what might make for a more expansive framing of these diverse phenomena. 53 J. Campbell, Songs of Zion: The African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Africa and the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1979. The Bible has mentioned the name of Africa in several ways and they have witnessed the life of Jesus Christ. flag. 174–200. In other words, scholars have long assumed the key feature of (African) Christianity to be whether the Christians under study subscribed to an essentially Western variant of the faith, on the one hand, or if they pioneered a supposedly more indigenous ‘Africanised’ version of Christianity, on the other. These phrases are used throughout the introduction. Many of the most successful large Pentecostal churches in South Africa are missionary offshoots, not of European or North American organisations, but of powerful West African Pentecostal-Charismatic mega-churches such as the Nigerian Redeemed Christian Church of God and T.D. 16 B. Meyer, ‘Christianity in Africa: From African Independent to Pentecostal Charismatic Churches’, Annual Review of Anthropology, 33 (2004), 447–474. However, the story these scholars tell is a documentary story based on a collection of about 5000 documents relevant to the role of Christianity in the history of South Africa. 42 N. Sithole, Isaiah Shembe’s Hymns and the Sacred Dance in Ibandla lamaNazaretha (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 64–65. Arguing against the tendency for South African history to focus on the histories of secular resistance, which downplays the significance of religion in people’s lives, the articles discusses how the horizon of many Protestants was the entirely more expansive Kingdom of God that cut across national, ethnic and linguistic boundaries. South Africa has been strongly influenced by many Christian missionaries and this file gives a very good overview over South Africa's Christian history. Their works, furthermore, have largely explored these themes in nationally focused case studies, a point to which we will return below. From about 500AD Bantu speaking people from Central and Eastern Africa had migrated into South Africa. Until the political transition in the 1990s, governance was not secular. Abstract. DT1757.S44 1995 323.1'68'0904–dc20 94–36134 ISBN 0-203-42544-8 Master e-book ISBN ISBN 0-203-73368-1 (Adobe eReader Format) ISBN 0-415-10356-8 (hbk) ISBN 0-415-10357-6 (pbk) v CONTENTS Series editor’s preface vii List of tables and maps xi INTRODUCTION: The historiography of segregation and apartheid … Zaccheus Mahabane, ANC president in the 1920s and 1930s, a Wesleyan minister, called upon his Christianity to support at ‘Common Brotherhood of Man, irrespective of race, colour or creed’, and was damning and vocal about the theology of pre-destination which he viewed as the scourge of Afrikaner nationalist Calvinism.38 The work of historian Daniel Magaziner has effectively shown the centrality of Christian ideas to the Black Consciousness student movement of the 1970s.39. Isichei's thorough study surveys the full breadth of Christianity in Africa, from the early story of Egyptian Christianity to the churches of the Middle Years (1500-1800) to the prolific success of missions throughout the 1900s. Christianity found its way to Sudan in the 1st century as well, and the region's Nubian churches had links to those in Egypt. Faced with a dense and self-sufficient universe of text spanning continents and oceans, it is not surprising that many researchers have been unable to transcend the particular. converted to Christianity. Given the numerical preponderance of Protestantism, it is hardly surprising, then, that much scholarship on Christianity in South Africa is by default the study of Protestantism. This short history has been … To receive whole copies of future issues, subscribe here. We use cookies to improve your website experience. E-mail Citation » A wide-ranging synthesis of the literature on the diverse religions of South Africa that stresses their historical development and social significance in the context of colonial rule and apartheid. However, in sharp contrast to this, South African theologians of this same period were increasingly mobilising an essentialised notion of ‘African culture’ and ‘traditional religion’ to contest the racist theology of the state-sanctioned Dutch Reformed Church and its official ideologues. Despite the significance of missionary-sponsored education, medicine and social work across Southern Africa, not to say the Christian commitments that formed many individuals who became active in nationalist and labour movements, the tendency of the mainstream historiography is to view religion as an uneasy addition to the usual stories of class and capital or, in the more recent historiography of heritage in South Africa, not to consider it at all.29 All of this means that histories of Christianity in Southern Africa have a tendency to occupy a specialised niche in the literature, largely detached from broader political, social and economic narratives.30 This is still the case today, as much as it was the case in 1995 when Richard Elphick argued that Christianity had been treated superficially (his word) in mainstream South African historiography. This national standing, coupled with ongoing links to theology departments in continental Europe, resulted in numerous – and until recently very lively – departments and faculties of theology across the country. Along these lines, two recent studies of Christianity in South Africa have argued against assessing religious movements through recourse to a bifurcated juxtaposition between ‘resistant’ and ‘quiescent’. Alice Lenshina’s church in independence-era Zambia is one pertinent example of this tendency, as were the cosmopolitan itinerant evangelists of the East African revival, or the contemporary transregional networks constituting Pentecostal-Charismatic churches throughout West Africa.52. South Africa— History—1960– I. Beinart, William. The challenge presented by the authors contained in this special issue, then, is to forge new ways of accounting for the subversive – indeed, the equalising – qualities of Christian Protestant networks in South Africa without subordinating the concerns of adherents to a ready-made, superimposed grammar of political or nationalist activism. Begins with an account of two workshops in Cambridge and Johannesburg, where he was in Africa began! Uppsala, Bengt Sundkler Papers, Box 96, P. Mkize interview P.! African Pilgrimage: Ritual Travel in South a....: new histories of in. Of scholarly works on Africa 's Christian history of Life in South Africa ( Chicago: Chicago Press... Life of Jesus Christ, two thousand years ago Art of Life in South Africa Christianity in South Africa been... Research associate at the University of Johannesburg was the Lutheran missionary-scholar Bengt Sundkler in 1948 point to which we return. 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