Article

African Christian Communities

David Chidester

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137989
Published online September 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195137989.003.0034

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 African Christian Communities

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As a global religion, Christianity is also an African religion, and increasingly so. During the twentieth century, the number of Christians in Africa rose from an estimated 10 million to 350 million, a dramatic increase from less than 10 percent to nearly 50 percent of the continent's population. Within the predominantly Muslim region of North Africa, ancient Christian communities survive including the Coptic Church, the Ethiopian Church, and the Nubian Church. During the twentieth century, substantial and widespread Christian commitment was generated by new forms of African Christianity that have been variously identified as African independent, indigenous, or initiated churches. Revitalizing traditional African culture, these local innovations in Christianity have also responded to global forces—conquest, colonization, capitalism, and urbanization—while participating actively in the twentieth-century transatlantic expansion of intensely experiential forms of Christianity. This article briefly recalls the history of Christian formations in Africa before focusing on two forces in that history—intercultural translation and economic exchange—that continue to operate in African Christian responses to the challenges of globalization.

Keywords: Christianity; Africa; North Africa; intercultural translation; economic exchange; globalization; Coptic Church; Ethiopian Church; Nubian Church

Article.  3234 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Interfaith Relations

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