Christian Communities in South Asia

Ainslie T. Embree

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137989
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Christian Communities in South Asia

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The many Christian communities of South Asia were all deeply embedded in the complex civilizations of the subcontinent. Today, these communities number some thirty million people in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and elsewhere in the region. The history and development of Christianity in India can be divided into four phases or periods. The first phase begins, according to the Thomas Christians as they are known, with the arrival of the apostle Thomas sometime in the middle of the first Christian century. The last three phases occurred in 1497, 1813, and 1947, respectively. Conversions in two special groups illustrate the growth of Christian communities in India. One group resulted from what are known as mass movements, when thousands of people from the lowest caste groups were converted very quickly and without much instruction; other Christian communities came from the tribal peoples, chief among them being the people of Northeast India.

Keywords: South Asia; Thomas Christians; Christianity; India; Pakistan; history; mass movements; tribal peoples

Article.  7466 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Interfaith Relations ; Christianity

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