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


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To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Oct 25, Tiffany rated it it was ok. The book introduces an important topic, and for that I am grateful. I was not aware of the African influence on scriptural study and analysis.

However, I found the book extremely repetitive and not very deep. The author continued to say that additional study was necessary to truly appreciate the full extent of the influence. While making that statement is to be commended, I still expected there to be more substance to the book than what was provided.

How Africa Shaped The Christian Mind-by Thomas C. Oden

I enjoyed learning about true location of his The book introduces an important topic, and for that I am grateful. I enjoyed learning about true location of historical Ethiopia as it shed light on what's happening today in modern day Sudan. Sep 12, Greg Miller rated it liked it. It seems a bit like a page introduction to a substance filled book that never quite comes. Jul 17, Ciara Anderson Browne rated it really liked it Shelves: The first in a trilogy which traces the history of a "western" religion to its strong roots on the African continent.

Intended to give a taste of such scholarship and to encourage others to continue and develop on this understudied area. View all 4 comments. Jul 05, Lauren rated it it was ok Shelves: I was so pumped to read about how Africa shaped the Christian mind I am still so pumped to read about how Africa shaped the Christian mind. The author does start to get into it about 20 pages until the end, but only just.

The title is more of a misnomer, unfortunately. On one hand, I un I was so pumped to read about how Africa shaped the Christian mind On one hand, I understand why the author needs to spend so much time convincing the reader that this study is important.


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On the other, I do not need such convincing. That's why I picked up the book; I wanted the titular thesis explored! The book would have made more sense if it served as an introduction to the Ancient Christian Commentary series, leading you in to further exploration of the thesis. I highly recommend this book, especially for those of us who have a primarily Westernized understanding of our theological history. The only reason I gave the book four stars was because the writing style was difficult to follow at times. However, the content more than made up for the shortcomings in style. Sep 11, Justin Lonas rated it liked it.

An important work, nonetheless. Nov 01, Stephanie Yates rated it it was amazing. Jun 19, Sara rated it liked it. I'm mostly just echoing the words of other reviews, but basically the topic is so important and so fascinating, but the book is highly disorganized and incredibly repetitive. Apr 29, Thomas Stama rated it it was ok Shelves: This was one of those books that the cover is more interesting than the content.

Rediscovering the Africa Seedbed of Western Christianity

Oden's purpose in writing this book is outlining what he hopes will be a concerted effort centered in Africa for focusing the diverse Christian communities of Africa into the continents tremendous contributions to Christianity specially in the early years. In addition the effort will recover some of the Christian traditions buried by the Arab Conquest and subsequent Islam domination or cutting off from the Medit This was one of those books that the cover is more interesting than the content. In addition the effort will recover some of the Christian traditions buried by the Arab Conquest and subsequent Islam domination or cutting off from the Mediterranean and European Christian World and later Western Christianity.

A noble task and much needed! Where I am uncomfortable with Dr. Oden is his view that present Western Christianity is some how taken a wrong turn. Several times he hints at this as with this phrase, " I have my suspicions what he is referring to but since he did not spell it out, I will not assume what exactly he is against. Oden and I agree that Africa places like Alexandria, Carthage, and the Nile river drainage system has contributed greatly to Christianity and acknowledging this perspective and recovering more of interior contributions origins need to be preserved and emphasized as African and not Hellenistic.

The story in St. Luke's Act of the Apostles about the Ethiopian Treasurer, a eunuch, is an important indicator toward the very earliest African involvement in the Apostolic communities. I ran off to Ethiopia in to look at church artwork from the 's AD - 's.

Apr 24, Diane rated it liked it. This book starts off with an interesting premise: The author argues, persuasively, that North Africa was an important center of Christian theological and moral practice in the early, pre-Constantine, period. He gives several examples of African contributions to early Christianity. However, he does not continue the history up to the present day. Rather, he talks extensively about Christianity in North Africa in the pre-Islamic period, and then begi This book starts off with an interesting premise: Rather, he talks extensively about Christianity in North Africa in the pre-Islamic period, and then begins to talk about the role of Christianity in present-day sub-Saharan Africa.

Although vibrant churches remain in Egypt and Ethiopia, my understanding is that most of North African Christianity was wiped out by the Arab conquests, a fact that the author does not discuss in much detail.

Rather, he talks about how the history of Christianity in this region can help to reconcile Christians and Muslims. This may be true, but he doesn't provide much of a defense for it. The author also argues that the history of Christianity in North Africa can provide inspiration, and important correctives, for present-day charismatic Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the author never supports this thesis. It is reasonable to assume that two very different traditions the very traditional Orthodox Christians of Northern Africa and the non-institutional charismatic Christians of sub-Saharan Africa could learn a lot from each other, but the author doesn't present any evidence.

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Despite these problems, I would recommend the book. I learned a lot about the early history of Christianity in Northern Africa that tends to be understudied in other histories of Christianity. Oct 24, Jennifer rated it really liked it. First, he hopes to present an African tradition of Christianity that will both encourage the growing African Christian population today and counter claims that Islam naturally has stronger ties with the African people.

Second, he hopes to convince Western Christians of the important contributions that African theologians made to the development of Western Christianity. On the second point, I believe he makes a convincing case, although another more in-depth analysis is needed. Oden dismisses race as irrelevant and bemoans the schism between the Coptic Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox traditions of North Africa and the Western traditions of Sub-Saharan Africa, presenting it more as an accident of Westernization rather than anything tied to the realities of the ancient past. Sure, if you want to define it that way.

Oct 22, Josiahmeyer rated it liked it. A much needed reminder that Africa played a huge role in early Christianity. It was, in fact, the "center" of Christianity for several centuries, much like America is today. The accusation that Christianity is "the white man's religion," only rings true we ignore the six centuries of vibrant Christian faith on the continent, before the Vandal and Muslim conquests! Oden is clear that he is not trying to OVER-state his case: Africa was not the sole originator or guardian of Christia Excellent book!

Africa was not the sole originator or guardian of Christianity. However, she played an important role in ancient Christainity, alongside of Europe and Asia. Some of the uniquely African contributions include the Canon of Scriptures, defenders of the Trinity, and original sin. From a literary perspective, this book was somewhat lacking.

In between these two sections the author wanders a bit, repeats arguments, talks about his own authorial process in writing the book, and advertises an agency he is getting in place to further the study of Ancient African Christianity. It is well written and engaging, but were I his editor I would have pointed out ways in which he could have tightened his work.

The primary value of this work is in his insistence that fresh African Christian voices must take up the baton, and run with the project he has envisioned. The evidence is there - and it is up to Africa to reclaim the heritage which is rightly theirs! May 12, Bill rated it liked it Shelves: The message of this book is rather straightforward: African thought has been an important influence in the shaping of Christianity, but this fact has never been recognized by the Church as a whole.

Oden then moves to give evidences for his theory, encouraging more scholars to take up this topic of study. I must admit, even though I have spent several years in Africa, I had not given consideration to how influential Africans were in the development of early Christian theology. Key African theologi The message of this book is rather straightforward: Cyprian, Augustine, and Origen. Oden urges Africans to stand up and claim their historical contributions to the Church. Where Europeans have taken African thought and claimed it for themselves, Oden prompts the African scholar to dig deep into the true origins of the Christian mind.

I like this for many reasons, but especially for the encouragement Oden gives to Africans. Too often I have seen my African brothers and sisters view themselves as the "lesser" partner in the faith. This should not be. Africans have a great deal to contribute to the way the Church views the world, and without their confident participation the Church's understanding of Scripture and faith will be less than whole.

Blessings to my African colleagues in their pursuit of Christ and the discoveries He has for them. Jan 01, Daniel rated it liked it Shelves: I chose to read this book as a small tribute to Thomas Oden in light of his passing late in the year. This book was not, as I expected, a historical analysis of how African patristic authors shaped the thinking of early Christians and beyond. While Oden did explain some of the key ways in which Africa had an impact on the wider church from the early centuries of Christianity on, the majority of the book is dedicated to casting a vision for how this neglected area of church history can be further I chose to read this book as a small tribute to Thomas Oden in light of his passing late in the year.

How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind

While Oden did explain some of the key ways in which Africa had an impact on the wider church from the early centuries of Christianity on, the majority of the book is dedicated to casting a vision for how this neglected area of church history can be further studied and explored. In this way, Oden offers a compelling challenge to budding scholars throughout the world and especially in Africa to bolster the assertions that he makes.

While I suspect that Oden is right in many of these assertions, I would love to see evidence in their support. I am curious how much research has been done in the areas Oden identifies in the ten or so years since Oden released this book. In addition to the misleading title of the book, I found much of the content repetitive and somewhat scattered. It seems that an editor could have encouraged some heavy reorganization and condensing of the material. Even so, I look forward to reading Oden's other works on African patristics in the future and I do hope that his vision for a renewed interest in early African patristic history is carried out.

Jan 23, Michael McCue rated it it was ok. While How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind started and ended with some interesting ideas the middle really dragged. I think Oden could have done just as well by writing an essay or journal article. The fact that many of the early church fathers lived and wrote in North Africa was not a surprising new idea. Oden's attempt to link North African church fathers such as Origen, Clement and Augustine with the rest of Africa just wasn't convincing. Repeatedly Oden chides academics for its Eurocentric assumptions.

Such repetition at times is belabored and, the point being made, detracts from the fertile content of the work. Oden also recognizes the current lack of evidence to affirm Africa as a primary seedbed of Christianity. Given the centuries of interplay between Alexandria, Athens, Palestine, Carthage, and Rome, acute readers will wonder if the case that North African theology was distinctly African may be overstated. Yet this book is a very good beginning to what Oden sees as a multigenerational task.

Christian workers focused on Africa and the Middle East will find it most helpful. Book reviews are published online and in print every quarter in Bibliotheca Sacra. Oden Downers Grove, IL The author of From the Ground Up: He has been a theologian in various world cultures including years spent as a missionary in Brazil. Along with cofounding and editing a leading Latin American theological journal, he has written several books in Portuguese and English.

He especially loves to introduce students to a global understanding of Christian faith, often taking teams of them with him as he travels. Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership. One of the greatest theological insights embodied in the triune God, the biblical institution of marriage, and the local church is the worship-inspiring and transformational


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

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