Hinduism and Christianity

Chad Bauman, Arun Jones, Brian Pennington, Joseph Prabhakar Dayam and Michelle Voss Roberts

in Hinduism

ISBN: 9780195399318
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:
Hinduism and Christianity


Christian communities have existed in India since at least the 4th century ce, the likely result of relatively well-established trade connections between India and the Near East in the early centuries of the Common Era. While Christians maintained a lively and well-documented existence in the centuries after that, particularly in southern India, the size of the Christian population, as well as its geographical spread, began to increase dramatically after the arrival of European traders and missionaries in the late 15th century. European contact with India through trade and then, later, colonization led to greater European interest in Indian cultures and religions. While for some that interest was scholarly and dispassionate, for others it grew out of the evangelical impulse, that is, the desire to promote Christianity and “convert the heathen.” That said, some of the most useful ethnographic data and analyses on Indian culture and religion in this era of Indo-European interaction comes from missionary figures, many of whom took at least a quasi-scholarly interest in the people with whom they interacted, most of whom documented religio-cultural beliefs, practices, and events that passed away, or were significantly altered, in the centuries that followed. The relationship between Christian missionaries and the study of India/Indian Christianity is therefore important to keep in mind because of the way it has complicated (and to some degree still does) academic work on the topic. In the bibliography that follows, readers will discover resources about Indian Christianity and its relationship to Indian culture and religion written both from an assumed scholarly distance and from a more committed stance (e.g., by foreign missionaries and/or Indian Christians writing self-consciously as Christians, or by Hindus writing appreciatively of or critically against Christianity). Nevertheless, while the resources listed here emerge from a range of disciplines—history, ethnography, sociology, cultural studies, missiology, and theology—one theme that pervades them all is how India’s Christians have interacted (or should interact) with Hinduism and India’s other religious and cultural traditions.

Article.  16367 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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