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Title: Missionary encounters in nineteenth-century Bombay : the life, work, and theology of John Wilson in critical perspective
Author: Gabriel, Reuben Louis
Awarding Body: Oxford Centre for Mission Studies
Current Institution: Oxford Centre for Mission Studies
Date of Award: 2009
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This study concerns the missionary career of John Wilson (1829-1875), Free Church of Scotland missionary, in Bombay. It is limited to those arenas of activity through which Wilson sought to extend the Christian faith amongst the Indians. His early career was dedicated to evangelism and rational argument premised on Christianity’s claim of superiority to other faiths. This polemical approach attracted opposition from Indian religious groups and fractured communal cohesion. The Indian reaction forced Wilson to abandon the most confrontational aspects of the Enlightenment-shaped presentation of Christianity while retaining its commitment to promoting social change through education and philanthropy. Through these he presented himself to the Indians as one deeply concerned for their welfare. Thus the thesis is also about the impact which the responses of indigenous religious communities to a strongly Enlightenment-shaped presentation of Christianity had on a missionary schooled in this tradition. The thesis suggests that in the encounters between missionaries and indigenous peoples, the direction of influence was not single but two-way. The significance of this research has other important facets. It focuses on a hitherto neglected personality and region in British India. It indicates that the diffusion of Christianity in India was never identical with the spread of western culture. Finally, it implies that Christianity has exerted its greatest appeal when it has abandoned the intellectual denigration of other religions, and sought instead to contribute to the quality of life of all human communities. The thesis is based on Wilson’s publications and correspondence, the reports of the Scottish Missionary Society and Foreign Mission Committees of the Church of Scotland and Free Church of Scotland, his biography by George Smith, and literary sources. These European sources have been subjected wherever possible to external scrutiny and comparison with sources emanating from the historic religious communities of Bombay.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available