How Africa Shaped The Christian Mind


Toward A Half Billion African Christians
An Epic Story
Out Of Africa
The Pivotal Place Of Africa On The Ancient Map
Two Rivers: The Nile And The Medjerda–Seedbed Of Early Christian Thought
Affirming Oral And Written Traditions
Self-Effacement And The Recovery Of Dignity
The Missing Link: The Early African Written Intellectual Tradition Forgotten
Why Africa Has Seemed To The West To Lack Intellectual History

Part One: The African Seedbed Of Western Christianity
1 A Forgotten Story
Who Can Tell It?
Pilgrimage Sites Neglected
Under Sands: The Burial Of Ancient Christian Texts And Basilicas
2 Seven Ways Africa Shaped The Christian Mind
How The Western Idea Of A University Was Born In The Crucible Of Africa
How Christian Exegesis Of Scripture First Matured In Africa
How African Sources Shaped Early Christian Dogma
How Early Ecumenical Decision Making Followed African Conciliar Patterns
How The African Desert Gave Birth To Worldwide Monasticism
How Christian Neoplatonism Emerged In Africa
How Rhetorical And Dialectical Skills Were Refined In Africa And Introduced To Europe
Interlude: Harnack?s Folly
3 Defining Africa
Establishing The Indigenous Depth Of Early African Christianity
The Stereotyping Of Hellenism As Non-African
Scientific Inquiry Into The Ethnicity Of Early African Christian Writers
The Purveyors Of Myopia
The African-Priority Hypothesis Requires Textual Demonstration
The South-to-North Hypothesis
A Case In Point: The Circuitous Path From Africa To Ireland To Europe And Then Back To Africa
A Caveat Against Afrocentric Exaggeration
4 One Faith, Two Africas
The Hazards Of Bridge Building
The Challenge Of Reconciliation Of Black Africa And North Africa
Overcoming The Ingrained Lack Of Awareness
The Roots Of The Term Africa
Excommunicating The North
Arguing For African Unity
Defining Early African Christianity As A Descriptive Category Of A Period Of History
How African Is The Nile Valley?
5 Temptations
The Emerging Task Of Historical Inquiry
The Catholic Limits Of Afrocentrism
The Inflexible Habit Of Ignoring African Sources
The Cost Of The Forgetfulness
Overlooking African Voices Already Present In Scripture
How Protestants Can Celebrate The Apostolic Charisma Of The Copts
The Christian Ancestry Of Africa

Part Two: African Orthodox Recovery
6 The Opportunity For Retrieval
Surviving Modernity
The Steadiness Of African Orthodoxy
The New African

Additional Info
Africa has played a decisive role in the formation of Christian culture from its infancy. Some of the most decisive intellectual achievements of Christianity were explored and understood in Africa before they were in Europe. If this is so, why is Christianity so often perceived in Africa as a Western colonial import? How can Christians in Northern and sub-Saharan Africa, indeed how can Christians throughout the world, rediscover and learn from this ancient heritage? Theologian Thomas C. Oden offers a portrait that challenges prevailing notions of the intellectual development of Christianity from its early roots to its modern expressions. The pattern, he suggests, is not from north to south from Europe to Africa, but the other way around. He then makes an impassioned plea to uncover the hard data and study in depth the vital role that early African Christians played in developing the modern university, maturing Christian exegesis of Scripture, shaping early Christian dogma, modeling conciliar patterns of ecumenical decision-making, stimulating early monasticism, developing Neoplatonism, and refining rhetorical and dialectical skills. He calls for a wide-ranging research project to fill out the picture he sketches. It will require, he says, a generation of disciplined investigation, combining intensive language study with a risk-taking commitment to uncover the truth in potentially unreceptive environments. Oden envisions a dedicated consortium of scholars linked by computer technology and a common commitment that will seek to shape not only the scholar’s understanding but the ordinary African Christian’s self-perception.


SKU (ISBN): 9780830837052
Binding: Trade Paper
Published: 2010
Publisher: InterVarsity Press


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