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Over the past decade, a number of books on the history of Christianity in Asia have appeared, the best known of these being Samuel Hugh Moffett's A History of Christianity in Asia, Vol.1: Beginnings to 1500, published in 1992. Although Gillman and Klimkeit's book covers much the same territory as does Moffett, it does so in a more balanced and accessible fashion. The authors are experts in the field: Hans-Joachim Klimkeit is Professor of History of Religions at Bonn University, and an authority on religion in Central Asia, and Ian Gillman has recently retired from the Department of Studies in Religion at the University of Queensland, where he taught for 28 years. The result of their collaboration is a magisterial treatment of Christianity in Asia. The book is divided into 12 chapters of varying length. Klimkeit has written two masterful chapters on Central Asia and China, and Gillman the remainder of the book, including comprehensive chapters on Syria and Palestine, "Arabia", Armenia and Georgia, Persia, India and South-East Asia, as well as editing the whole. Both authors write from a wide - indeed, magisterial - knowledge of the field and with empathy for the subject matter. They are circumspect in their analysis, not falling into the trap - as other treatments of the topic have sometimes tended to do - of building a theoretical superstructure upon the foundation of a limited range of evidence. Nor do they uncritically accept the evidence that is available, but use it cautiously, with balance and discernment. Thus, Gillman argues against an unquestioning acceptance of the accounts of the Apostle Thomas' ministry in India, and suggests that the alternative originator of Indian Christianity - Thomas of Cana - might be dated in the 8th, rather than in the 4th, century.Read more ›
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