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How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind : Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity - Dr Thomas C Oden

How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind

Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity

Paperback

Published: 23rd July 2010
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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.

"How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind is a bold call to rehabilitate the earliest African contributions to the shaping of world Christianity. As such, it is a major resource for all people interested in the history of the Christian movement. Oden's focus on the intellectual dimension of Africans' role in the formation of Christian culture may surprise some, but it is a much-needed, welcome corrective to the assumptions held by many. In my opinion, this book is one of the most significant contributions to the literature on world Christianity. Must reading!"--Tite Tienou, Dean and Professor of Theology of Mission Trinity Evangelical Divinity School"
"Rarely has a work of such brevity distilled so much vintage wisdom with such elan. How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind fills a crucial gap between the early church in Africa and Western Christianity, and represents a timely challenge to Christian Africans and to a post-Christian West. It will be impossible and foolhardy to ignore this book."--Lamin Sanneh, Professor of World Christianity and of History, Yale University"
"How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind . . . is essential for all libraries East, West, South devoted to Christian historical and theological issues."--Roger E. Hedlund, Dharma Deepika, January-June 2011
"A gripping and inspiring book."--James Nkansah-Obrempong, Evangelical Review of Theology, April 2009
"An exciting book generously documented and passionately written."--Gie Vleugels, Stone-Campbell Journal, Fall 2009
"A helpful challenge to consider the primacy of African theology in the first centuries of the church. A very good beginning to what Oden sees as a multigenerational task."--J. Scott Horrell, Bibliotheca Sacra, January - March 2010
"I found this brief book both interesting and important. I am certain that everyone needs to know and process Oden's argument."--Denis Haack, Critique, Issue 3, 2009
"Oden has condensed in a small but excellent starter book a great amount of information and he has provided convincing and compelling evidence for Christianity;s debt to its African roots. He has left me with a great hunger for exploring more deeply into this vitally important subject."--Trevor O'Reggio, Seminary Studies, Andrews University, Autumn 2008
"This book is a challenge, a shot across the bow of young historians. If Oden is correct, that Africa did in fact play a more decisive role in the formation of Christianity than just about everyone realizes, then the Church will profit from the investigation he calls for. This is a tremendous book and is worthy of being read by anyone who enjoys church history, or even African history. Thomas Oden has served the Church over the last few decades by editing the Ancient Christian Commentary Series and reminding us of the necessity of remembering our roots in the early church."--BostonBibleGeeks.wordpress.com, March 2, 2009
"Oden has offered a compelling and positively provocative work. [This] significant and timely work ought to be read by undergraduate and seminary students studying early Christianity, intercultural studies, and historical and systematic theology. It will surely be a catalyst for future generations of scholarship."--Edward L. Smither, Criswell Theological Review, Fall 2008
"[A] great reminder that what we are doing is recovering a great Christian past, in which the entire Christian world owes a debt to early Africans."--Gary S. Maxey, The Arminian, Spring 2008
"While the book may be provocative to some, it is a potent reminder that Christianity is not a European religion but a worldwide religion and always has been."--Chris White, SoulEpigraph.blogspot.com, June 25, 2008
"I would recommend this book to anyone interested in church history."--Shaun Tabatt, BibleGeekGoneWild.com, July 29, 2008
"Oden's book is a call to take seriously the oral and written tradition of material spoken and penned on the African continent. It is then a call to explore the past, present, and future impact of that legacy."--Robert Kelleman, TitusOneNine blog, April 25, 2008
"Read it, be challenged, consider and beware: for some it may lead to a life work!"--The Rev. Dr. Colin Reed in Church Missionary Society Victoria, March 2008"
"Some of the major Church Fathers were from Africa. These Church Fathers were greatly involved in theological disputes of the time. Oden presents the case that these theologies moved from Africa to Europe and Asia. Oden proposes that present-day Africans need not create a new theology, but rediscover the theology that was born on the continent before the Arab conquests. Oden reminds Christians of the major cultural and religious centers in North Africa."--Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., Curled Up with a Good Book (www.curledup.com), February 2008
"In a little more than 200 pages, Dr. Oden documents how some of the most crucial intellectual achievements of Christianity were explored and understood in Africa long before they were in Europe. In this landmark book, Oden gives several ways Africa has shaped the Christian mind. From Africa came the idea of university, the development of Christian exegesis of scripture, the earliest intimations of ecumenical conciliar patterns, the rise of monasticism and categorization of Christian dogma."--Jim Miller Book Review, February 12, 2008
"[A]n outline and an agenda for research . . . [by] classic forward-thinking Oden. . . . The story of Christian theology has been told from a European perspective. Oden wants to tell that story differently: classical Christian theology was heavily shaped by Africans."--David Neff, ChristianityToday.com, February 29, 2008

Introductionp. 9
Toward a Half Billion African Christiansp. 10
An Epic Storyp. 11
Out of Africap. 13
The Pivotal Place of Africa on the Ancient Mapp. 14
Two Rivers: The Nile and the Medjerda-Seedbed of Early Christian Thoughtp. 18
Affirming Oral and Written Traditionsp. 23
Self-Effacement and the Recovery of Dignityp. 26
The Missing Link: The Early African Written Intellectual Traditionp. 28
Why Africa Has Seemed to the West to Lack Intellectual Historyp. 30
Interludep. 32
The African Seedbed of Western Christianityp. 33
A Forgotten Storyp. 35
Who Can Tell It?p. 35
Pilgrimage Sites Neglectedp. 37
Under Sands: The Burial of Ancient Christian Texts and Basilicasp. 39
Seven Ways Africa Shaped the Christian Mindp. 42
How the Western Idea of a University Was Born in the Crucible of Africap. 43
How Christian Exegesis of Scripture First Matured in Africap. 45
How African Sources Shaped Early Christian Dogmap. 46
How Early Ecumenical Decision Making Followed African Conciliar Patternsp. 48
How the African Desert Gave Birth to Worldwide Monasticismp. 52
How Christian Neoplatonism Emerged in Africap. 55
How Rhetorical and Dialectical Skills Were Honed in Africa for Europe's Usep. 56
Interlude: Harnack's Follyp. 57
Overviewp. 59
Defining Africap. 62
Establishing the Indigenous Depth of Early African Christianityp. 62
The Stereotyping of African Hellenism as Non Africanp. 66
Scientific Inquiry into the Ethnicity of Early African Christian Writersp. 67
The Purveyors of Myopiap. 69
The African Seedbed Hypothesis Requires Textual Demonstrationp. 72
A Case in Point: The Circuitous Path from Africa to Ireland to Europe and Then Back to Africap. 73
A Caveat Against Afrocentric Exaggerationp. 76
One Faith, Two Africasp. 78
The Hazards of Bridge Buildingp. 78
The Challenge of Reconciliation of Black Africa and North Africap. 79
The Roots of the Term Africap. 80
Overcoming the Ingrained Lack of Awarenessp. 82
Excommunicating the Northp. 83
Arguing for African Unityp. 84
Defining ├┤Early African Christianity├ as a Descriptive Category of a Period of Historyp. 85
How African Is the Nile Valley?p. 86
Temptationsp. 89
Tilted Historical Predispositionsp. 89
The Catholic Limits of Afrocentrismp. 91
Ignoring African Sourcesp. 94
The Cost of Forgetfulnessp. 95
Overlooking African Voices in Scripturep. 96
How Protestants Can Celebrate the Apostolic Charisma of the Coptsp. 97
The Christian Ancestry of Africap. 99
African Orthodox Recoveryp. 101
The Opportunity for Retrievalp. 103
Surviving Modernityp. 104
The Steadiness of African On Orthodoxyp. 106
The New African Ecumenismp. 107
Pruning Undisciplined Excessesp. 109
Burning Away the Acids of Moral Relativismp. 110
Orthodoxy Global and Africanp. 112
Historic Christian Multiculturalismp. 113
Refraining Modern Ecumenics within Classic Ecumenicsp. 115
How the Blood of African Martyrs Became the Seed of European Christianityp. 117
Whether Classic Christian Teaching Is Defined by Powerp. 118
How the History of African Martyrdom Shaped Christian Views of Universal Historyp. 120
Recalling the Exodus as an African Eventp. 122
Amassing the Evidencep. 122
The Challenge of Young Africap. 124
Right Rememberingp. 126
Remembering the Scripture Rightly Through the Spiritp. 127
The Heart of African Orthodoxyp. 128
Transcending Material Worldlinessp. 131
Avoiding Racial Definitions of Apostolic Truthp. 132
Seeking the Reconciliation of Christianity and Islam Through Historical Insightp. 134
The Risks Scholars Takep. 135
Conjointly Studying the History of Islam and Christianityp. 137
The Rigorous language Requirements of African Researchp. 138
Learning from Primary Sourcesp. 140
A Personal Challengep. 140
Appendix: The Challenges of Early African Researchp. 143
Three Aims of Future Researchp. 143
The Precedentp. 144
The Scopep. 146
The African Center of the International Consortiump. 147
The Consortium of Scholarsp. 148
Assembling the Pieces of the Puzzlep. 148
Academic Leadershipp. 149
Maximizing Digital Technologiesp. 150
Publishing Outcomesp. 151
Conclusionp. 154
Literary Chronology of Christianity in Africa in the First Millenniump. 157
Bibliographyp. 198
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780830837052
ISBN-10: 0830837051
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 204
Published: 23rd July 2010
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.2 x 14.0  x 1.9
Weight (kg): 0.3