Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

“At primary issue is the text's 40-page introduction, which Kurian authored. The language of that opening salvo pricked the sensibilities of two editorial board members, Duke religion professor David Morgan and Bernard McGinn, professor emeritus of historical theology and the history of Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School. According to Kurian, the pair of scholars raised questions about balance and tone, setting off alarm bells at Wiley-Blackwell and triggering an order to re-edit the entire encyclopedia with such issues in mind…But a reading of the text indicates the issue may be more complicated. Much of the language in Kurian's introduction borders on the inflammatory, such as when he compares Mongols and Turks to ‘locusts’ who ‘wiped out the church in Asia.’ Elsewhere in the text, the successes of Christianity and Christians are recounted at length with no mention of shortcomings or violence. Wiley-Blackwell executives dubbed that presentation propagandistic. Kurian, who is Eastern Orthodox, defends it…”


Assuming that Kurian’s religious identity is the motivation behind the “inflammatory” tone of the introduction, I can’t say I blame him. Historically, the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox have borne the brunt of the Islamic onslaught.

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