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In this fascinating re-evaluation of Christian history West African Christianity concentrates on the role of Africans as the principal agents of, and the significance of African materials in, the spread of Christianity from its earliest centuries. When examining Christianity in Africa other studies focus mainly on the organization of the missionary effort in Europe and America, seeing the rise of African Christianity as a direct consequence of external developments. Still others view Christianity as chiefly the unwitting begetter of nationalist reaction.
In contrast to both of these approaches Dr. Sanneh analyzed the Christian religious theme by linking it to local religious responses and attitudes. He pays particular attention to the adaptation of religion in African societies and to parallels and exigencies in local traditions, with the Western missionary theme considered in the light of indigenous initiatives. He reviews developments in New Testament times and early Christianity in Egypt and North Africa, as well as paying special attention to the phenomenon of African Christian Independency.
West African Christianity concludes with an examination of both Christianity and Islam in their African manifestation, demonstrating how "the African factor" emerges as a major category of transformation: preceding in importance "this missionary factor."
Lamin Sanneh (1943-2019) was D. Willis James Professor of Missions & World Christianity and Professor of History at Yale Divinity School. He also taught at Harvard University and the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He was appointed by Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Commission of the Historical Sciences and by Pope Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Commission on Religious Relations with Muslims, and was named a Commandeur de l'Ordre National du Lion, Senegal's highest national honor. His other books include Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture.