• Jehu J. Hanciles. Migration and the Making of Global Christianity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2021. 461 pp.

    Reinder Bruinsma
    Tom de Bruin (see profile)
    Spes Christiana (journal)
    Item Type:
    Book review
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    According to the promotion text on the jacket, Jehu Hanciles’ book provides “a magisterial sweep through 1500 years of Christian history.” The distin-guished church historian Philip Jenkins agrees, and, in his foreword, credits Hanciles with redrawing “the historical maps by which we understand the Christian story.” Jenkins just regrets that he did not write “this excellent book” himself (p. xiii). The author, Jehu J. Hanciles, hails from the West Afri-can country of Sierra Leone. He currently teaches at the prestigious Emory University in Atlanta (Georgia, USA) and has several important books to his name. His study Beyond Christendom: Globalization, African Migration and the Transformation of the West (2009) was widely acclaimed. This review focuses on his newest book in which migration plays an even more crucial role. Hanciles, repeatedly, in this new book emphasizes that “migration is a defin-ing feature of human existence and a significant force of historical change” (p. 416), and that migration has been a primary factor in the spreading of Chris-tianity. This study “debunks the centuries-old view that the global spread of the Christian faith is largely the work of institutional entities (ecclesiastical or political) and their trained agents” (p. 8). Hanciles’ thesis is that the global expansion of Christianity was not primarily the result of the endeavors of professional missionaries and of initiatives by major political powers (“empires”), but depended to a very large extent on the migration of Christian individuals and groups (p. 2). This is not only an important aspect for our understanding of the past, but remains quite relevant even today, as currently around half of all migrants in today’s world are Christians (p. 418: note 39).
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    2 years ago


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