How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity

ISBN-10: 0830828753
ISBN-13: 9780830828753
Edition: 2007
Authors: Thomas C. Oden
List price: $22.00
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $22.00
Copyright year: 2007
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Publication date: 12/26/2007
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 204
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.50" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.078
Language: English

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.

Introduction
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
Why Africa Has Seemed to the West to Lack Intellectual History
Interlude
The African Seedbed of Western Christianity
A Forgotten Story
Who Can Tell It?
Pilgrimage Sites Neglected
Under Sands: The Burial of Ancient Christian Texts and Basilicas
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 Honed in Africa for Europe's Use
Interlude: Harnack's Folly
Overview
Defining Africa
Establishing the Indigenous Depth of Early African Christianity
The Stereotyping of African Hellenism as Non-African
Scientific Inquiry into the Ethnicity of Early African Christian Writers
The Purveyors of Myopia
The African Seedbed Hypothesis Requires Textual Demonstration
A Case in Point: The Circuitous Path from Africa to Ireland to Europe and Then Back to Africa
A Caveat Against Afrocentric Exaggeration
One Faith, Two Africas
The Hazards of Bridge Building
The Challenge of Reconciliation of Black Africa and North Africa
The Roots of the Term Africa
Overcoming the Ingrained Lack of Awareness
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?
Temptations
Tilted Historical Predispositions
The Catholic Limits of Afrocentrism
Ignoring African Sources
The Cost of Forgetfulness
Overlooking African Voices in Scripture
How Protestants Can Celebrate the Apostolic Charisma of the Copts
The Christian Ancestry of Africa
African Orthodox Recovery
The Opportunity for Retrieval
Surviving Modernity
The Steadiness of African Orthodoxy
The New African Ecumenism
Pruning Undisciplined Excesses
Burning Away the Acids of Moral Relativism
Orthodoxy: Global and African
Historic Christian Multiculturalism
Reframing Modern Ecumenics Within Classic Ecumenics
How the Blood of African Martyrs Became the Seed of European Christianity
Whether Classic Christian Teaching Is Defined by Power
How the History of African Martyrdom Shaped Christian Views of Universal History
Recalling the Exodus as an African Event
Amassing the Evidence
The Challenge of Young Africa
Right Remembering
Remembering the Scripture Rightly Through the Spirit
The Heart of African Orthodoxy
Transcending Material Worldliness
Avoiding Racial Definitions of Apostolic Truth
Seeking the Reconciliation of Christianity and Islam Through Historical Insight
The Risks Scholars Take
Conjointly Studying the History of Islam and Christianity
The Rigorous Language Requirements of African Research
Learning from Primary Sources
A Personal Challenge
The Challenges of Early African Research
Three Aims of Future Research
The Precedent
The Scope
The African Center of the International Consortium
The Consortium of Scholars
Assembling the Pieces of the Puzzle
Academic Leadership
Maximizing Digital Technologies
Publishing Outcomes
Conclusion
Literary Chronology of Christianity in Africa in the First Millennium
Bibliography

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