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A History of Christian Missions (Penguin History of the Church) Paperback – May 17, 1991


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A History of Christian Missions (Penguin History of the Church) + The Great Commission: Evangelicals and the History of World Missions + From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Christian Missions
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin History of the Church (Book 6)
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Second Edition, Revised edition (May 17, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140137637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140137637
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 4.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephen Neill (1900-1984) was the Anglican Bishop of Tirunelveli in southern India. Reverend Owen Chadwick is considered one of the foremost historians of church history. He is a former Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge and was Vice-Chancellor of the university. He is also an ordained Anglican priest.

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Customer Reviews

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This book is very interesting.
Jamie L. Ham
He focused on the conversion of Eastern Europe in much greater detail than I have previously read.
Joshua D. Jones
Neill lays out the book in a chronological thematic format.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Holly on December 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
Stephen Neill provides a comprehensive look at the history of Christian missions in his book, A History of Christian Missions. From the very first Christians in Jerusalem to the spread of the faith all around the world, the author presents the facts needed to understand this remarkable expansion. The book is divided by time periods: the conquest of the Roman World (100-500 A.D.), the Dark Age (500-1000), the early European Expansion (1000-1500), the Age of Discovery (1500-1600), the Roman Catholic Missions (1600-1800), the new forces in Europe and America (1792-1858), the heyday of Colonialism (1858-1914), Rome, the Orthodox, and the world (1815-1914), and a look at contemporary missions since 1914. In each of these time periods, Neill spins the globe and offers an explanation of the mission efforts in each respective region. Because his book is fairly concise, he is able to only focus on the most novel and notable moments of Christian expansion. He does an excellent job in weeding through the vast amounts of history associated with Christian mission to show the flow and various shifts in method, means, and motivation. While this is a clearly comprehensive look at Christian missions, it is very much a history book. It is full of the facts of Christian mission - those, which encourage and those, which embarrass the Christian today. Neill offers an honest depiction of Christian missions, showing the successes and failures. This is a book that everyone should read, Christians especially. It is so important to understand how faith has reached you, and this book demonstrates this growth. Also, in reading this book, one develops more of a sense of gratitude and humility.Read more ›
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a must have for any church historian or anyone interested in the history of Christian missions. It is concise and thorough up to the point when it was written which was the late 1960's. Stephen Neill sets out to provide a look at the entire history of Christian missions and succeeds very well. This book can be used as a reference for any student or professor of Christian missions.
The layout of this book is somewhat difficult to get used to at first. Neill lays out the book in a chronological thematic format. He will start with one era and then move through the different areas of mission. For example, in the chapter on The Heyday of Colonialism, 1858-1914 Neill starts with the European background before moving through the mission efforts in other parts of the world. He starts with Japan before moving onto China, the Philippines and the rest of Asia. Then he jumps back to the beginning of the period and starts again with India before moving on to Africa and South America. In other words, it can be chronologically hard to follow at times but if you pay close attention to dates you should be able to know where you are at any given point in the book.
One of the good things about Neill's layout is how he divides the chapters. They are broad, sweeping categories that, as a history major, I found easily recognizable. Sample chapter titles are: The Conquest of the Roman World, A.D. 100-500 and The Age of Discovery, 1500-1600. He details the kinds of missions that were going on during each time period, thus making it the paradigms of the times easily identifiable. Perhaps the best part of this book is seeing God's work put into a historical context. Neill makes it effortless to see God's work in the world through the various missionary movements.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tron Honto on December 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
In my reading of his, Neill not only has the intention to catalogue 'just the facts' into a coherent, singular historical narrative but also to examine whether or not Christian expansion and missionary activity is to be seen as a part of conquest and colonialism. This books conclusion says, quite eloquently, that mission and militant and political expansion work on completely different levels in history though at times mission becomes blurred by the latter, either through demogoguery or by its culpability in its endorsement and support of colonialism and/or imperialism. This is an interesting book which succeeds foremost in demonstrating that christian mission is pluriform, not exclusively European and not always attached to political ambitions of conquest and expansion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joshua D. Jones on June 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
Wow. A History of Christian Missions by Stephen Niell is and (in my opinion) will stay one of the great one man shows of Christian scholarship. His masterful knowledge of the subject provides for a real tour de force from beginning to end. I thought I knew afar bit on the subject. Reading this book let me realize just how little I did and do know.

He touches on so many aspects of the history of Christian missions that other books just simply leave out. I have never read anyone study the influence of the Teutonic knights in the history of mission until now. He focused on the conversion of Eastern Europe in much greater detail than I have previously read. I have never read about the significance of the conversion of King Jagiello of Lithuania until now. He also breaks the mold a bit and focuses on the good aspects of European colonialism for the well being of the nation and cause of Christian mission as well as the bad aspects.

He traces Christian mission all the way through the mid twentieth century and seeing as how the author as been dead for some time, we will have to be content for this book to leave out all of the significant advances of the last few decades. He does comment on modern indigenous Christian mission movements (something I did not realize was being written much about 50 years ago) and gives some warnings to potential errors.

Great book. Any student of the subject will be much less informed without a reading of the book.
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