Newsletter of Institute on Protestant Missiology

Newsletter 1 (Bettelbrief) – Digitizing – Institut fuer evangelische Missiologie Freundesbrief 1 Dezember Projekt Digitalisierung-Jonathan 2020

Newsletter 2 (Bettelbrief) – NeDSITh – Newsletter 2 Februar Maerz Bibelübersetzung 2021

Newsletter 3 (Bettelbrief) – Bible translation – Bettelbrief 3 Mai 2021 22 04 2021;

Newsletter 4 (Bettelbrief) – Forum East Asia – Newsletter 4 Tianji IfeM Juli 2021

Newsletter 5 (Bettelbrief) – Network DS and Intc Theology – Newsletter 5 Dezember Samuel NeDSITh 2021

Newsletter 6 (Bettelbrief) – All Departments – Kundbrief 6 März 2022 alle Abteilungen

Newsletter 7 (Bettelbrief) – Bible translation – Kundbrief 7 Juli 2022 Bibelübersetzung

Newsletter 8

Newsletter 9

ook Review: Boase, Roger (ed.) 2005. Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Quest for Peace.

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This work, to which 20 authors contributed, is about exploring how Islam as a religious movement has engaged in interfaith dialogue. Roger Boase, was a professor at the University of Fez / Morocco before moving to the University of London. His comments suggest that he himself is a Muslim (post 17; see below). He has collected a motley assortment of authors on the subject of “Islam and religious pluralism”. In doing so, the main part of the work, contributions 4-11 (pp. 77-190), is devoted to Islam and its relationship to the West, in light of Huntington’s Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order (1996). The second main section, contributions 12-19 (pp. 191-273), deals with Jewish, Christian, and Islamic responses to religious differences. In conclusion-as well as implicitly over the entire work-is the appeal to see religious pluralism as an opportunity and as an expression of human and divine multicolor and to condemn religious strife.

In Part 1 of the collection, John Bowden, editor of SCM Press, directs the reader to the historical origins of religious pluralism within the Enlightenment (Contribution 1; pp. 13-20). Diana L. Eck, Indian studies Harvard University, helpfully defines exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism as the three core philosophical currents of religious expression (paper 2; pp. 21-50). The Christian evangelical world is represented in the spectrum from extremely exclusivist, sometimes also called fundamentalist (e.g., p. 13), as expressed, for example, in the Frankfurt Declaration, to less exclusivist groups that understand themselves as expressions of religious plurality (e.g., United Church of Canada, p. 23). Such spectrums are reflected in all religions, e.g. Islamic Jihad in Islam or Gush Emunim in the Jewish faith. Similarly, this spectrum is also found in inclusive and pluralistic spaces. The image of the West (Part 2) in Islam is examined from a wide variety of perspectives. William Dalrymple, historian and writer, introduces the world of Christian saints and Islamic Sufis (paper 5; pp. 91-101). In doing so, he reveals commonalities in the long coexistence of the two religions. He concludes that the longer one studies Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the more it becomes clear how much it is the foundation of fundamental Islamic content (p. 96). Especially in Eastern Anatolia (Levant) and the Middle East, this Christian-Islamic syncretism, in his opinion, is deeply rooted. Akbar S. Ahmed, Islamic studies at the American University Washington, is known worldwide for his commitment to public dialogue between Islam and other religions (contribution 6; 103-118). His contribution, as elsewhere, assumes that Muslims are hostile to the West because Islam’s achievements are not respected there (pp. 106-107). This blaming of the West is often used and underscores the rift between the Islamic world and the pluralistic Christian West. Antony T. Sullivan, an instructor in the Department of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan, is one of the few to address the tense political situation between the Islamic world and the West, especially the United States (paper 9; pp. 139-158). He tries to understand the West from an Asian perspective (China and India) and to anchor the Arab world as a component within it (p. 139). Further, he introduces the reader to the ecumenical jihad of Roman Catholic scholars (Peter Kreeft, Russell Kirk). The term jihad, which is misunderstood by many Muslims as well as non-Muslims, and the resulting activities are seen as the cause of the West’s negative attitude towards Islam (p. 147).

In the second main section (part three), the Christian-Jewish-Muslim trialogue comes into the conversation as a trilateral dialogue. Tony Bayfield, Director of Reformed Synagogues in the United Kingdom (UK), points out that September 11, 2001, was an attack on all religious thinking (paper 12; pp. 191-202; p. 191). In 5 charges, he describes the dilemma: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are closely related to him but represent the worst functioning kinship or family imaginable (p. 194). None of these three monotheistic scriptural religions abide by the challenges of their own scriptures to strive for peace (p. 195). He indicts Judaism for its absolute theology of election and uniqueness (Indictment 3) and the shaping of all three religions toward fundamentalism (Indictment 4; p. 195). Last, he refers to the exploitation of the Third World by Christianity and the post-Christian West (p. 198). Bayfield’s argument is symptomatic of the approach to religious pluralism as presented in these articles. Murad Wilfried Hofmann, a German diplomat and author in Algeria and Morocco who converted to Islam, defends Islam’s “reserved” position with regard to religious dialogue (article 16; 235-246). In his opinion, America has learned little since September 11, and “Israel” has been forgotten in the whole debate (p. 235). Fanatical evangelical circles would actively fight Islam, with Germany proving to be outstanding. Yet in Islamic states, he observed, religious problems are not an issue at the local level (p. 237). The dhimmi status (non-Muslims in Islamic states) would result in only three restrictions: exclusion from military service, a special tax that was not necessarily higher than the normal tax zakat, and the impossibility of becoming the highest head of state (!; p. 242). Tolerance, ecumenism, and the striving for peace in all religions can only succeed if everyone remains in his is his concluding thesis (p. 244).

The third statement on interreligious dialogue comes from editor Roger Boase, who sees ecumenical Islam as a response to religious pluralism (paper 17; pp. 247-266). He delineates three basic attitudes with regard to religious pluralism.

Those who reject it completely (e.g., those who see themselves as instruments of God),
those who see religious diversity as a blessing and strive toward world peace (e.g., Küng), and finally
those who reject religion in any form (pp. 247-248).
Boase, too, begins with September 11, 2001, and describes the West’s military response in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan as the worst mistake (p. 248). The true dichotomy is not found between Muslims and non-Muslims, but between extremist-exclusivist and inclusive-pluralist groups (p. 249). In his search for common ground, he comes across ecumenical Islam. The Prophet Muhammad himself was involved in the interreligious debate of his environment, as the Koran shows. Seven principles can be derived from it:

There should be no pressure regarding faith (Surah 2:256),
do not insult anyone of a different faith (Surah 6:108),
do not get involved with those who insult your faith (Surah 5:57-58),
speak with tact and courtesy to those of other faiths (Surah 15:88),
seek dialogue with those who argue critically (Surah 3:65),
refrain from speculating about matters of faith (Surah 40:4), and lastly
compete in your own life of faith with those of other faiths in order to motivate them (Surah 5:48; pp. 252-254).
So much for Boase’s interpretation of the Qur’an. The Jewish-Islamic dialogue at the time of the Prophet Muhammad was intense and should be resumed today in the Islamic sphere, as well as outside with regard to Islam as a religious dialogue (p. 262).

This work is in reference to the current tension between the world religions a pointer to the fact that it is up to each individual to engage theologically with other religions in the way and not to consider them fundamentally radical. Such an expression is present in every religion and should lead to charity or peace intention if one follows the revelations. Since human reality often looks different due to economic or political tensions (poverty, persecution, displacement), the anxious question remains at the end whether such appeals can be implemented or move people to rethink.

Book Review: Harvey, Richard 2009. Mapping Messianic Jewish Theology: A Constructive Approach. Studies in Messianic Jewish Theology

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Richard Harvey is Academic Dean and Tutor in Hebrew and Jewish Studies at All Nations College near London. According to Harvey, Messianic Judaism (originally Hebrew Christianity; p. 10) currently includes about 150,000 Jewish believers in the Messiah Jesus Christ (p. 2). Although this is a relatively small number, the Messianic movement is politically and spiritually explosive and significant from a missiological perspective on church building. Other messianic movements, also called insider movements, from other religious contexts (e.g., in Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism) measure themselves or are measured against this Jewish movement. Official Judaism usually rejects this movement as non-Jewish (e.g., the Central Council of Jews in Germany).

Harvey examines eight types of messianic Jewish theology (pp. 267-277):

Type 1 Jewish Christianity, Christocentric and Reform (Baruch Maoz);
Type 2 Dispensational Hebrew Christianity (Arnold Fruchtenbaum);
Type 3 Israel Nationality and Restoration (Gershon Nerel);
Type 4 New Testament Halacha, Charismatic and Evangelical (Daniel Juster, David Stern);
Type 5 Traditional Judaism and the Messiah (Mi-chael Schiffmann, John Fischer, Ariel Berkowitz);
Type 6 Post-missionary Messianic Judaism (Mark Kinzer, Richard Nichol, Tsvi Sadan);
Type 7 Rabbinic Halacha in Light of the New Testament (Joseph Shulam);
Type 8 Messianic Rabbinic Orthodoxy (Elazar Brandt, Uri Marcus).
He discusses these eight types through five thematic blocks:

1. God’s nature, agency, and attributes (can the one God of Israel and the Christian Trinity be the same?)

2. The Messiah (Messianic Jewish Christology)

3. Torah in theory (the meaning and interpretation of Torah in light of Yeshua/ Jesus)

4. Torah in practice (Messianic practice of the Sabbath, food regulations, and Passover/Easter)

5. Eschatology (the various models used in the movement to describe the future of Israel).

After the author’s recommendation, Chapter 9, “Conclusion: The Future of Messianic Jewish Theology,” provides a comprehensive summary that describes his findings and places them in Jewish theological contexts. There he mentions again all problem areas and connecting points of the eight presented Messianic Jewish theologies and gives an insight and outlook on the possible developments of this movement with regard to global Christianity.

Some Jewish anthropologists (e.g., Devra Jaffe among Messianic gatherings in Philadelphia and Houston 2000; p. 23), Jewish sociologists (Elliot Cohen, Jewish Buddhist examines Jewish backlash 2004; pp. 26-27), and non-Jewish religious scholars (e.g., Bulent Şenay Islamic theological historian on the theology of the movement 2000; pp. 19, 188) have also examined and described the Jewish Messianic movement. Harvey’s inclusion of these perspectives provides insight into the perception of this movement from public, critical Jewish, and critical as well as approving Christian perspectives. In sympathetic Christian circles, the movement is interpreted as contextualization (Glasser, Fuller Seminary; p. 35), rediscovery of origins (re-discovery), or (re)union of the body of Christ (Hegstad, Norwegian Lutheran; p. 37).

Prominent unresolved problem areas include Jewish monotheism versus the dogmatic biblical Trinity (pp. 49-50, 66-67 Maoz “person-like Trinity”), the understanding and position of Jesus Christ in the Hebrew Bible as well as Jewish tradition (e.g., Kinzer p. 47), Jewish halakhic food regulations (kosher vs. treife), and finally the observance of the Sabbath and other Jewish festivals (p. 188).

The measure of the range of perception and interpretation on these areas demonstrates closeness to or rejection of Jewish worship within Messianic Jewish groups. Harvey’s merit is to have elicited the eight types and related them to one another. With regard to the discussion of bringing the Jewish people back into the fold, the most recent proclamation of the Protestant Church on the Year of Reformation (November 2016), under the impression of Lutheran anti-Judaism, rejected any involvement in attempts to convert Jewish people. It remains to be seen how Messianic Judaism will deal with such demarcations.

Book Review: Lukens-Bull, Ronald 2005. A Peaceful Jihad. Negotiating Identity and Modernity in Muslim Java

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The Islam of Indonesia, the subject of this study is Java, is a colorful mixture of religions, ethnic groups and various interests. The anthropological study, written by an outsider (etic perspective), describes the life of an Islâmic-run boarding school (Indonesian pesantren) called Al-Hikam. The students of the pesantren study at colleges or in secular subjects at outside institutions and live in the boarding school according to traditional Indonesian-Islamic understanding. In this pesantren religious education is given by the dean and his closest confidants themselves. In addition, students can enroll in Arabic, English or some other subjects at the boarding school. The dean is considered a blessing giver and religious role model.

The study is captivating in its ethnographic studies of individual subjects. The reader is transported into the environment of an Islamic boarding school, to which a Westerner has only limited access. Not only the pesantren, but also the facilities associated with it are described. These include cemeteries, pilgrimage sites (Tebu Ireng, pp. 28-29), recreational facilities and religious centers. The historical review provides insight into the founding period (19th century) and the development of the boarding school.

The author is essentially concerned with the confrontation of Islam with modernity and postmodernity. Education is seen as the essential element of change and renewal of Islamic life. The demand for interreligious, intercultural and multilingual education within the framework of Islam is representative of the changes addressed (chs. 3-4). Influences on pesantren come from outside and within. Richer Islamic states (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Iran) want to influence the education offered and the running of the boarding school through financial support. The boarding school management emphasizes that the simultaneous teaching of Arabic and English combines traditional with modern life. Students learn theological-Islamic basics on the Arabic Qur’an and modern world views in parallel. One also opens up in the religious field by studying, for example, Christianity and Asian religions through their scriptures (Bi-bel, Vedas, Baghadvitta).

In a further step the author examines diverse guidance models of the pesantren (chapter 5). He compares democratic and dictatorial models, which can also be found in political parties, public institutions and semi-governmental organizations. The leadership and social structure in the pesantren is characterized by the veneration of individuals, strict moral standards, and a simple lifestyle. In the process, cultural values are addressed that benefit the propagation and internal reinforcement (jihad) of Islam (Ch 6).

This ethnographic work gives anthropologists and missiologists a good insight into the Islamic world of Indonesia. Specifically, it enlightens about Islamic educational institutions and their governance structures.

Indonesia ; pesantren ; Islamic school ; religious education ; Islam ; interreligious ; jihad

Book Review: Noor, Sikand & Bruinessen 2007 The Madrasa in Asia

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This book is an essay collection of 9 papers on the Islamic theological education system in Asia and its reform movements. Noor is a teacher/lecturer at the School of International Studies in Singapore, Sikand is a professional writer from India, and van Bruinessen is a sociologist and was professor emeritus at Utrecht University. All three are or have been active in teaching in the Islamic world as well.

This book describes from an anthropological and sociological perspective the importance of the medresse (Arab. derived from darasa “to study,” school, p. 9) in the Islamic region, focusing on Asia. Individual madrasas, as well as entire networks from India (e.g., Deo-band), Pakistan, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia are described and examined here. The designated madrasas are private and non-university educational institutions offering secular and theological subjects. The secular subjects are taught on the foundation of an Islamic understanding so that the student can develop and move within the framework of an Islamic environment.

The book provides a good historical insight into the motivations that led to the formation of madrasas in individual situations and how they developed over long periods of time. Unanimously, the authors and the schools they examine argue for renewal and reorientation in the conception of Islamic education in these institutions. This is especially true in the secular education sector, which is usually too narrowly and one-sidedly limited to the Islamic sphere. The demand is to open up international, intercultural and interreligious contexts to a non-Islamic audience as well. These reform approaches are already underway or are being vigorously called for.

The overarching theme of the essays is the internal and external renewal of the madrasas and the internal and external resistance to it. Thus, the madrassa itself becomes a political institution in which the mutual oppositional forces of Islam are revealed (reformers vs. conservatives).

The work excels in its detailed portrayal of these two forces in Islam. However, in my opinion, it loses objectivity due to an overvaluation of the reform movement, which could just as easily be seen as a normal process of adaptation. In part, this paints a picture of the threat to the madrasas that is not necessarily realistic. This assessment is somewhat qualified by the fact that the activities that develop out of the madrasas are clearly anti-reformist. As a result, a clearly described tension emerges between reformers and counterforces in these educational institutions. Some personal biographical fates of students enrich the sketched picture.

It is a clear contemporary perspective on “modern” Islam. Anyone who studies this topic will get an impression of the politically active forces in this space, where they come from, how they operate, and how they are generated. Since madrasas provide a path to education primarily for poor citizens, these Islamic educational institutions represent elementary opinion makers. This work is also important for those who want to learn about the various networks and linkages currently active in the Asian-Islamic education sector.

Book Review: Murrow, David 2011. Warum Männer nicht zum Gottesdienst gehen

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From a female perspective, the review of this book would have to be different, but gender-related issues are notoriously controversial. Murrow has summarized his observations and findings on the topic of “church/community and men.”

As head of the institution (a website worth reading), it has come to his attention that Christian churches / congregations do not reflect what he calls the “masculine spirit” in their environment. “Masculinity” with all its manifestations is not in demand in the church, he said. He observed that the rather few men in congregations are in majority passive or bored and somehow uncomfortable (Introduction). He legitimately questions whether this could be an unintended consequence of the current structure and orientation of the church/community? It is reinforced by the opinions he often hears “religion is a women’s issue” and “masculinity plays no role in the church.”

What about men in the church? Contrary to the accusations that the church is patriarchal and male-dominant in its nature, the practical activities in the congregation tend to attract female workers. Children’s work, cleaning, prayer, pastoral care, music, it is ultimately the faithful women of the congregation who determine continuity and ultimately the structure of the congregation. This dominant female presence has ultimately, in the minds of men, given “the church” the reputation of a women’s club. Above all, the male factors of fun, challenge, and adventure are not sought after in churches. Controversial issues are not raised, unanswerable questions are immediately preached to, the typical churchgoer is humble, neat, dutiful and above all: nice. This conformity does not fascinate men; they stay away or are passive. Murrow is realistic, many men like to indulge their own god outside the church (selfishness, addiction, crime), but revivals have shown men are religious. There is a lack of long term challenges to attract men to the church. Many current church forms are clearly not challenging in this regard.

Even if you don’t agree to all of it, it is a book worth reading. Even if everything is different in “our” church, it challenges one to think through this issue. Some of the numerous suggestions for shaping church, in terms of male participation, could be taken up at any time (e.g. linguistic conventions, testosterone elements in worship, forms of prayer).


Church ; gender ; church planting ; missiology ; authority

Book Review: Lingel, Joshua, Morton, Jeff & Nikides, Bill (eds.) 2011. Chrislam: How Missionaries Are Promoting an Islamized Gospel

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This work should be seen as a response to an intense discussion in church and missionary circles in the United States about approaches to contextualization in the Islamic sphere. Among other things, it is about Bible translations that are adapted to the Islamic world in their language use and that are mostly supervised and supported linguistically, technically and financially by so-called Insider Movements (IM), but partly by Western organizations.

The Faculty of Theology in Biola has been particularly prominent in the discussion, as it has taken the lead in preparing general statements on this subject for some church federations (free churches). The essays presented here constitute a very detailed and courageous collection and summary of research from the last decade. The collection is impressive for its scope, the use of a tremendous amount of opinions and publications on the subject, and the presentation of both sides. Proponents and critics, from the latter circle the work comes, come to the language and find hearing. Unfortunately, so a downer of this work, the proponents are always described from a critical point of view. In addition to the critical editors, Georges Houssney, John Span, Roger Dixon, David Talley, Emir Caner, David Abernathy, Adam Simnowitz, Abdul Qurban, Edward Ayub, Elijah Abraham, Bassam Madany, Sasan Tavassolie and old sources (Zwemer, Cook) have their say.

The editors rightly assume that the “problem” of contextualizing Bible translations in the Islamic world can only be answered in close connection with the “Insider Movement” developments. Consequently, and for the benefit of the reader, they develop their critical argumentation on the basis of numerous perspectives of insiders and outsiders. It is primarily the insider accounts that enrich the debate.

The editors divide the problem into the three subject areas of missiology, theology, and translation studies. From a theological-missiological point of view, the chapters on hermeneutics (chapter 2) and

– on hermeneutics (chapter 2),

– missiology (chapter 3) and

– the insider perspectives (chapter 5)

a rich fund of critical arguments on ethical, hermeneutical, sociological, and psychological issues of this kind of contextualization. For the field of contextualized Bible translations and for Bible translators, chapters 2 and 4 give a good overview of the theological-missiological reservations. These include the ingratiation with Islam, the abandonment of the doctrine of the Trinity, the betrayal of Christians from an Islamic background, who use the family names in the description of the Trinity to distinguish themselves from Islam, and many more arguments.

The entire account is based on two arguments. First, the insider movement and the spectrum of contextualization in Islam (C1-C6 spectrum) developed by Travis is criticized, thus rejecting the option of a “dualistic presence” as a “Muslim” Christian. This would remain with good conscience attached to the Islamic background on a sociological level. Secondly, approaches to a linguistic-cultural contextualization in the Islamic area are moved into the realm of syncretism. A vivid anecdote in the introduction (pp. 8-10) describes the tension of this problem. A Western Christian “Jim” and a local Christian from an Islamic background “Tahwil” engage in a dialogue in which it becomes clear that Tahwil is mentored by Jim, but the latter picks up so much from Islam that Tahwil no longer knows whether he is actually a Christian or a Muslim.

This book is a fund for discussion. For critics, it provides a summary and categorization of the many issues surrounding this subject. For proponents, it provides insight into the movement’s potential weaknesses, as well as a comprehensive overview of the main arguments from a critical perspective. For readers unfamiliar with the discussion, the criticism in this book is so strong that it is not possible to get an objective impression of the subject only with the help of the book.


Insider Movements ; Bible translation ; missionary movement ; century of Bible translation ; global church ; glocal church ; church development aid ; church workers

Book Review: Carswell, Jonathan & Wright, Joanna 2008. Susanne Geske: Ich will keine Rache – Das Drama von Malatya

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Persecution of Christians is an upcoming topic in the public. Quite a few institutions are now propagating it by very different means (most famous: Open Doors). Politicians are also discovering it more and more, as an argument for or against certain issues that need to be decided (e.g., refugee and citizenship[s] debate). It should not be too much to say that the “drama” described in this book, which took place in 2007 and also still in the political partner country Turkey, one of the countries of origin of Christianity, was probably an initial trigger to this development. Obviously, there is great interest in the developing evangelical church in Turkey. The research that accompanies it inspires international politics to publicly perceive the political pressure weighing on this church. German and European policymakers have picked up the signal as evidenced by constant round tables and the temporary deferral of Turkey’s application for full EU membership.

Carswell and Wright interviewed the widow, of the German-born victim of this religious-political assassination. Three men fell victim to the 5 perpetrators. In a death struggle lasting about three hours, the two men of Turkish origin and the spouse of the interviewee, who lived in Turkey, were slowly and agonizingly executed (detailed pp. 96-103). These clear words must be used for this meticulously planned contract killing of 5 Turkish religiously motivated nationalists in eastern Turkey (Malatya).

This book wants to show the context in which the drama took place and tells extensively about the long way of the German family of five, first to Turkey and then to the east there. It is a very personally told entertaining life and experience report. In view of the many guest workers of Turkish origin, refugees and latecomers, a change of perspective comes to the fore here, which makes it easy for the German and Turkish reader to learn from each other across cultures. Of course, not everyone will like the fact that the Christian concern is in the foreground, but it spices up the field of tension in which both cultures move on foreign soil. Mutual expectations are revealed and come to light in the encounters and finally in the conflict between religious interests.

In the first fifty pages, the widow describes the path and the price paid by church employees who want to work abroad. Anyone who wants to make their mark in the context of church development aid, in a foreign country, will be familiar with these experiences and will appreciate the openness of the narrative. This includes, first, the question of the geographical and local place where one wants to share one’s experience, second, the question of financial provision and security in foreign lands, and finally, the organization or institutions that publicly back the project.

In the following section, the next thirty pages (pp. 53-83) describe the journey in Turkey, leading up to the assassination. In addition to learning the language(s) and culture(s), this section offers insight into the experience of immersion in foreign cultures.

The next block (pp. 84-115) is taken up by the assassination and the ten days leading up to the funeral in Turkey. Impressive is the uncompromisingness with which in this report to the country of choice is held. This is also evident in the last twenty pages (pp. 115-136), where the widow and children invoke forgiveness from a higher power without reservation. The loss of the father and husband is not glossed over, but neither is it emphasized as a martyr’s achievement. Such is done by the outsiders who, among others, also stand for this book, which was written within a year, still completely under the impression of the assassination.

This book is a good and helpful testimony about Christian witness in the world. It offers deep insights into the challenges of church development aid in foreign countries. However, and this should be critically noted, it anticipates the postulate of a theology of suffering in this very field of church work. This assumption, however, cannot be taken unilaterally from the New Testament evidence, as is at the moment readily heard in the Western world. Increasing religious conflicts and the worldwide tensions contribute to this not insignificantly. However, it is detrimental to Christian thought and action to live “love of neighbor and enemy” solely from an attitude of suffering and oppression; rather, looking forward and upward drives discipleship. Martyrdom is then recorded as a process of church history, through subsequent generations, to strengthen in crisis situations and to consolidate the global church, in mutual advocacy (prayer and political intervention).

Christian development aid ; persecution ; martyr, martyrdom ; Islam ; Turkey , Germany ; faith ; missiology ; theology of suffering

Book Review: Du Mez, Kristin Kobes 2015. A New Gospel for Women: Katharine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism

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Du Mez presents a combination of evangelical missiology and theology, Bible translation, intercultural theology and contemporary history, all represented in one person: Katharine Bushnell. The study is carried out under the theme “conservative Christian feminism”. Kristine Kobes Du Mez carries the reader back into the period of the American-British evangelical revivals of the 19th and 20th centuries, namely the Methodist movement. Her topics are: Ideologically embossed anti-feminist Bible translation, colonialism, slavery, prostitution and child abuse in regard of (male) Christian responsibility and participation. The Commonwealth, and geographically-specific China, India and Australia come in focus.

In the preface Du Mez presents Bushnell’s translation of the story of creation in Genesis 1-3 (: ix-x; Preface). Only in the course of the biography of Bushnell becomes clear how this, at first impression, irritating translation of the Bible came to be. As the seventh of nine siblings Bushnell was born in 1855 in Peru, Illinois. She moved with the family, then the age of 15, to 130 km distant Evanston. This town was known as evangelical Methodist Mecca and one of the evangelical Christian feminist strongholds (:13-15; :12-26; A Paradise for Women).

The Holiness movement, especially under the leadership of women, clashed there in contrast to the strict Victorian gender segregation (:27-61; Virtue, Vice, and Victorian Women). This resulted in the participation of women at management level and in education (z. B. Northwestern Female College). The evangelization of women by men was criticized loudly. The outspoken Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society from the Methodist Episcopal Church (WFMS) was led by Frances Willard, Bushnell’s neighbor (:19). For decades she became her mentor, based on a mutually benefiting relationship (:21). Bushnell studied theology and the languages of the Biblical base text. Exegesis and hermeneutics became her favorite.

Based on emphasis on missiology oriented to other counties and on women in science, in the context of the Methodists, Bushnell further studied medicine (:24-25). In 1879 she went as Medical Intern-expert to China. Her trip stood under the influence of Christian feminism, the Christianization of women by women, and the so-called “social-purification campaign” (:27; social purity crusade). Here, in a foreign land, she recognized for the first time, significantly the (un)conscious reduction of women. She learned about the motivations by men behind, and why women leave this with them. She was, at that time unaware of her own imperialist-colonialist approach. In the Chinese translation of the Bible she found basic ideas for paternalistic and ideological bias in the global Christian context. As an example she addressed Philippians 4:2-3. In the Chinese translation the text referred to two male assistants, while the basic text speaks of Euodia and Syntyche as female assistants (:39-40). Even worse, was the theological “proof” of her male counterparts regarding this erroneous translation.

Bushnell got the chance to work for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) (:41). Back in the US she examined different scientific links between prostitution and male influence in Wisconsin, such as she had perceived in China (:60-62; :62-85; Heathen Slaves, Christian Rulers). Her big breakthrough came with an investigation for targeted prostitution by British soldiers in the Indian part of the Commonwealth. Under false pretenses, however, based on official assignment, she could discover there the conduct of British troops with Indian women. False marriage-promises led to a sort of “official” prostitution. As a consequence, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, suicide and social ostracism lead in turn to resistance against the British population (:69-71). Bushnell and Andrew, her friend, were able to prove this for China. Their findings led to strong protests in the Commonwealth but were scientifically sound. Bushnell was probably the first woman of that time, to declare publicly Christian theological thinking responsible for crimes against women (:86-89; :86-107; The Crime is the Fruit of the Theology).

Bushnell began her own Bible lessons for women: God’s Word for Women. At the same time she studied English Bible translations of their paternalistic mistranslations. She quickly realized that the understanding of the history of creation fundamentally influenced paternalist interpretation (:108-129; Leaving Eden). In particular, the position of Eve after the Fall was the key exegetical matter of fact (:130-151; Reedeming Eve). She borrows at the same time from anthropological and religious studies. The matriarchy, as an early social system served her as foundation for the special divine transferred responsibility of the man against the woman. Not as protector of woman, but as a God-opposite, absolutely equal to the woman. Only later paternalistic interpretation postponed this particular responsibility on the shoulder of the woman, who was now at the mercy of male power structures (:150-151).

Liberal movements in American-British Protestantism leveled in the long run the gender issue, and thus the participation of women in theological space (:152-162;). By the early 20th century a new liberal feminist wave began, for them Bushnell’s conservative approach was not enough. Bushnell spoke in favor of the family, against abortion and contraception (birth control) from (:163-178; A Prophet without Honor).

Since the so-called “modern liberal feminism” could not eliminate the discrimination of women, it became the “new morality” and “conservative Christian feminism” that rediscovered Bushnell for intercultural theology (:179-187; Conclusion: The Challenge of Christian Feminism).

In summary, this study is recommended to anyone who wants to educate on the subjects gender-question, human trafficking, prostitution, feminism and ideology in Bible translation.


Gender ; human trafficking ; prostitution ; feminism; ideology in Bible translation ; colonialism ; post-colonialism ; maternalism ; paternalism

Boow Review: Schipper, Jeremy 2011. Disability & Isaiah’s Suffering Servant

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This work is increasingly noticed in theological circles. The basic exegetical message that the description of the suffering of the Servant of God is an actual rather than an imagined or transmissible disability of a person also has missiological implications. In particular, it calls into question the diaconal-ethical orientation of the church toward people with disabilities.

Jeremy Schipper is a professor of Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) at Temple University in Pennsylvania. He has been involved with disability studies in relation to the Hebrew Bible since 2006. In doing so, he questions the common interpretive practice of interpreting the descriptions of disability or the disabled primarily allegorically. He sees no reason to approach the Hebrew Bible in this way, neither inner-biblically nor in the religious and linguistic comparison with other ancient writings. He is cautious and admits this approach as a possible option, but does not want to leave it as the only or preferred possibility (Conclusion, pp. 110-112). Schipper demonstrates that this approach is especially evident in the interpretations of the Servant of God in Isaiah 53.

In the interpretation of Isaiah he follows the general tradition, which divides Isaiah 53 into two parts: A divine speech or oracle as introduction and conclusion (52:13-15 and 53:11b-12) and as main part a psalm about the servant (53:1-11a). He rejects the theory that the psalm is a later insertion between two divine speeches, and thus that originally there was no description of an impairment, because of the different text-critical findings. He also emphasizes the variety of descriptions of disability and disabled people in the Hebrew Bible, especially in Isaiah (disability imagery).

Disability studies reveal three models of disability perception. The medical model, the social model from the UK, and the cultural model from the USA (pp. 14-20). The former is now declared inadequate. Schipper chooses a practice-based approach to disability. For him, age-related phenomena caused by slow deterioration are not included, but explicitly mentioned infertility (male, female, eunuchs), mobility, visual, hearing and mental limitations are. Ancient texts describe the timely perception of disability, but they do not give sufficient definitions of it.

Schipper cites the inner-biblical spiritual transmissions (metaphors) that play with vocabulary out of the realm of disability, of which Isaiah is not sparing (e.g., Isa 42:19; 56:10). Isaiah 53, however, goes beyond this, as the real physical and mental limitation of a person is described.

Another interpretation defines the servant as “suffering” but not disabled (p. 32; see below). In contrast, the experience of social isolation (Isa 53:3) points to a “real” rejection by otherness or disability. Implications of a religious substitution, such as from the Hittite and Assyrian realms for mentally handicapped persons used in place of the sick king, are not sufficiently evidenced to apply to Isa 53. Schipper discusses theories of a skin disease as proposed by Duhn (pp. 40-42) as well as interpretations that exclude disability as an interpretive option, namely of a servant of God who was injured (pp. 42-45; so, e.g., Whybray), killed (pp. 45-49), recovering (pp. 49-55), or imprisoned (pp. 55-57).

Chapter 3 is devoted to a text-critical analysis of Isaiah 53. In the course of antiquity, according to Schipper, a shift in view from a disabled servant of God to a non-disabled one is evident. Especially the Targum (ancient Aramaic interpretive translations) break away from the image of a disabled servant and speak more of an “anointed” (mšhy) rather than a “deformed” person (mišhat; Isa 52:14; pp. 69-71). In contrast, Jerome in the Vulgate and commentaries uses vocabulary from the realm of disability (p. 71).

The New Testament evidence extends to quotations from Isaiah 53 in the New Testament. Jesus’ healings and miracles form the reference. In addition to Matt 8:17, John 12:28 should also be mentioned, though in both cases disability does not play a role, but Jesus’ rejection despite his healings. Other passages referring to Isaiah 53 also point not to disability but to rejection and suffering. For example, in Lk 22:37, Mk 15:28 – Jesus as an innocent; in Acts 8:32-33 and 1Pt 2:22 – a martyr or in Rom 10:16 and 15:21 – reactions to the Servant of God. This New Testament tendency is likely to support the longstanding shift from understanding disabled people to the suffering servant of God.

In chapter 4, Schipper examines the myriad interpretations of the Servant of God as suffering, real-existent or to be interpreted collectively. At least fifteen historical persons are found in the interpretation (p. 84). The Servant is interpreted early on as Jesus, then again as Messiah (e.g. Justin, 2nd century; pp. 89-91), as king (pp. 91-93) or as prophet (pp. 93-99). Collective interpretations point to Israel, as represented, for example, by Origen in the 3rd century (pp. 99-100), or to suffering Zion (pp. 104-106). To illustrate the predominant tendency toward non-disability, Schipper also lists references to disability in terms of the Messiah or the Servant of God (pp. 85-89; including leprosy or the state of Eunuchs).

It is Schipper’s merit to have shown in brief how a biblical text, here Isaiah 53, can lose an original nuance and subsequently take all kinds of interpretative directions. With regard to disability, this is particularly tragic, since the “glocal” church must actively counteract an inherent paternalistic tendency or exclusion, in order to live up to its “inclusive” effect of being the church for all of all.

Isaiah ; Hebrew Bible ; Disability Studies ; suffering ; theodicy ; healing ; missiology ; theology