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Title: Attempting to bring the gospel home : Scottish Presbyterian churches' missionary efforts to the Christians, Jews and Muslims of Palestine, 1839-1917
Author: Marten, Michael
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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The thesis portrays Scottish missions to Palestine carried out by Presbyterian churches, largely the Free Church of Scodand, between the years 1839 and 1917. These missions had as their stated arm the conversion of Jews to Protestantism, but also attempted to convert Christians and Muslims. The missions to Damascus, Aleppo, Tiberias, Safad, Hebron and Jaffa are examined, with the missionaries being portrayed in their religious, theological, social, economic, national and imperial contexts. The theological devotion to the land of Palestine and the missionaries' assumptions about the place of Jews in the divine economy form a basis for the link between the theological aims and the imperial ambition of the protagonists. The three main methods of the missionaries' work - confrontation, education and medicine - are described, with attendant results analysed, along with the ways in which these were communicated to the supporting constituency in Scotland. The relationship of the missionaries to their Scottish constituency and their employers is shown to be a complex one characterised predominantly by limited control from Scotland, and misconceptions, misinterpretations and misunderstandings from the missionary field. The racism, denial of distinct local agency, and suppositions regarding theological imperatives in relations to people in the Levant are shown to represent an imperial model of practice on the part of the Scots. In this context, the successes and failures of the missionaries' methods - initially aimed at securing conversions, but when that failed to produce adequate quantifiable results, became about communicating their imperial cultural norms - are shown to result primarily from the agency of indigenous actors in response to the actions of the Scots. Local actors utilised the services offered, but did not pursue religious conversion. Using models of identification and reculturation, the missionaries' failure to adequately address the dialectic of identity and difference that they faced is shown to symbolise the failure of the imperial ambition as expressed in their desire to produce religious converts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available