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Catholic and Protestant Individuals in Nineteenth-Century German Missionary Periodicals

  • Albert Wu

Upon first glance, nineteenth-century German Catholic and Protestant missionary periodicals seem to come from different milieus. Compare two mastheads: an October 1895 issue of the monthly periodical of the Catholic Society of the Divine Word (SVD) and the Protestant Berlin Missionary Society's monthly periodical of November 1895. An ornate woodcut print inhabits the masthead of the SVD periodical, the Kleiner-Herz Jesu-Bote. Jesus, with his sacred heart exposed, stands on clouds and is flanked by two angels, Raphael and Gabriel. In the top left-hand corner, the reader sees the Archangel Michael militantly guarding over the frontispiece with sword and shield, while in the top right-hand corner, the one mortal, St. Francis, smiles benevolently, offering the reader absolution. The periodical's title is presented in lettering akin to an illuminated manuscript. Pictures of saints, relics, and martyrs adorn the rest of the issue.

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102 See the masthead of the Kleiner Herz-Jesu-Bote. Monatsschrift der Glaubensverbreitung [KHJB] 23, no. 1 (October 1895), 1.

103 See the masthead of the Berliner Missions-Berichte, no. 11 (1895), 161.

104 Drury, Marjule Anne, “Anti-Catholicism in Germany, Britain, and the United States: A Review and Critique of Recent Scholarship,” Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture 70, no. 1 (2001), 117.

105 For more on Weber's anti-Catholic outlook, see Nipperdey, Thomas, “Max Weber, Protestantism, and the Context of the Debate around 1900,” in Weber's Protestant Ethic: Origins, Evidence, Contexts, eds. Lehmann, Hartmut and Roth, Guenther (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1987).

106 There has been a large literature on the relationship between missionary work and modernization. See, for example, van der Veer, Peter, Conversion to Modernities: The Globalization of Christianity (New York: Routledge, 1996); Keane, Webb, Christian Moderns: Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007); Peel, J. D. Y., Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003).

107 Hubrig, Friedrich, Li-tshyung-yin, ein treuer Zeuge in der chinesischen Mission, vol. 57, Neue Missionsschriften (Berlin: Buchhandlung der Berliner evangelischen Missionsgesellschaft, 1899), 1.

108 Hubrig, Li-tshyung-yin.

109 Ibid, 8.

110 See, Comaroff, Jean and Comaroff, John, Of Revelation and Revolution, Volume 2: The Dialectics of Modernity on a South African Frontier (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 79.

111 Hubrig, Friedrich, Der Evangelist Sung-en-phui, vol. 15, Neue Missionsschriften (Berlin: Buchhandlung der Berliner evangelischen Missionsgesellschaft, 1891), 14.

112 Krampe, Heinrich, “Erstkommunion im Heidenlande,” KHJB 23, no. 2 (November 1895), 12.

113 This is not to say that hagiographic literature about Protestant missionaries did not exist, rather the focus of these hagiographies differed due to the different dominant historical narratives, with Catholic missionaries narratives focused primarily on situating the missionary work within a long tradition of Catholic missionary martyrs, which was evident from the early modern period. Many of the BMS's hagiographic literature highlighted the expertise and modern knowledge that the missionaries brought with them to China, beyond the simple suffering of the missionary.

114 Sanguis martyrum, semen Christianorum,” KHJB 6, no. 2 (February 1879), 11.

115 There is a large amount of literature on the Chinese Rites Controversy. One good overview is Mungello, David E., ed., The Chinese Rites Controversy: Its History and Meaning (Nettetal: Steyler Verlag, 1994).

This piece began as a paper at the conference on “Politics within Nineteenth-Century Missionary Periodicals,” held at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster. Many thanks to all of the participants, who helped to clarify and articulate my muddled thinking. Special thanks to the organizers of the conference, Felicity Jensz and Hanna Acke, who gracefully and expertly shepherded this piece into print. Margaret L. Anderson and Margaret Tillman read and pruned early drafts. Fellowships from the Fulbright IIE and the Academia Sinica in Taipei Taiwan funded the research.

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Church History
  • ISSN: 0009-6407
  • EISSN: 1755-2613
  • URL: /core/journals/church-history
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