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Priests & Politicians
Protestant & Catholic Missions in Orthodox Ethiopia
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Priests and Politicians is a contribution to a growing literature on Christian missions in Africa. It covers an early phase of nineteenth century activities in a part of the continent that is still poorly represented in Africanists scholarship. The study rests upon an extensive use of English, French, Swiss, and Italian archives. The main thematic emphasis is political interaction: the central role of missionaries in the genesis of modern Afro-European relations and the apparent motives of Ethiopian leaders in dealing with representatives of an alien society. A variety of missionary strategies is revealed and discussed with particular reference to two areas: attitudes towards the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the degree to which missions identified Christianity with European culture. In the process, it casts significant new light on internal Ethiopian developments.
"Donald Crummey’s Priests and Politicians is a valuable study of the interaction between religion and politics in Ethiopia’s renewed contacts with Europe during the nineteenth century. …Ethiopian history is rich in raw material, but it has been very poor in good and standard interpretative works. The value of this book is that it is one of the first to fill in this gap. While Crummey’s special concern has been with Ethiopia, he also brings to light the distinctive methods used by [Protestant and Catholic] mission groups in the unique political and religious milieu of Ethiopia. This makes the book a significant addition to the comparative study of Christian missions in Africa in general."
--Tadesse Tamrat, author of Church and State in Ethiopia, 1270-1527
"The pioneering monograph on nineteenth-century Protestant and Catholic missions in Ethiopia, Priests and Politicians also still affords the most valuable entree that we have into the different positions within Ethiopian Christian theology. While religiously attuned, the author’s perspective is explicitly multi-dimensional. Employing a copious range of rare archival sources, Crummey’s book depicts insightfully some fascinating lineaments of Ethiopian political history as well as the heroisms and follies of certain European personalities."
--Donald Levine, author of Greater Ethiopia and Wax and Gold
"Priests and Politicians is a model of tight, succinct, reasoned historical scholarship. It is a penetrating study of the role of European missions in the officially Orthodox Christian imperial provinces of Ethiopia. It is a most useful addition in filling an important place in the field of religious history to which only few made significant contribution."
--Carnelius J. Jaenen, Department of History, University of Ottawa
Donald Crummey received his Ph.D. in African History from the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University in 1967. From 1967 to 1973 he was a member of the History Department of what is now Addis Ababa University. In 1973 he joined the faculty of the University of Illinois where he is Professor Emeritus. He is the author of numerous articles on Ethiopian history. His current interests are reflected in two recent books: Land and Society in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia: From the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century (University of Illinois Press, 2000); and African Savannas. Global Narratives and Local Knowledge of Environmental Change (James Currey Publisher, 2003), which he coedited with Thomas J. Bassett.
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