The Other Christianity?
This introductory chapter begins with a discussion of how Western scholars have misrepresented the preceding millennia of Eurasian history, producing teleological accounts that underestimate or deny the contributions of other civilizations. The particular interest of the religious traditions addressed in this volume lies in the fact that Christianity, nowadays commonly perceived as the Western faith par excellence, is itself an Oriental religion by origin. The Eastern traditions of Christianity today have large congregations (numbering well over 200 million), but they have attracted little scholarly attention to date from Anglophone anthropologists. The chapter then sets out the purpose of the book, which is to examine a range of Eastern Christian communities on the basis of ethnographic case studies. This is followed by discussions of the emerging “anthropology of Christianity,” church histories, theology and anthropology, and orthodoxy and orthopraxis. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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