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World Christianity   Tags: africa, asia, church_history, latin_america, theology, world_christianity  

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Christianity in Africa developed rapidly in the 20th century, both through the churches of "mission churches" of Catholic and Protestant groups and through independent African churches.  But most histories of African Christianity remind readers that Christianity in Africa extends much farther back in history, including notable Christian figures like Augustine of Hippo, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian.  This page provides reference sources, histories, theologies, and Web connections for understanding Christianity in Africa yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Denominational Connections

Web Pages

  • Dictionary of African Christian Biography
    Search by country, denominational affiliation, name, or language to retrieve biographical information about individuals influential in African Christianity. The focus is on individuals from Africa, although some non-Africans are included.

Reference Works

See also the General Resources page for reference works that consider African countries and topics as part of a larger survey.

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Cambridge History of Christianity: World Christianities c. 1914-2000 - Hugh McLeod, ed.
Call Number: THEOLOGY REFERENCE: BR141 .C36 v. 9
ISBN: 0521815002
Chapters provide historical essays and sources. Chapters of interest include: Allan Anderson and Edmond Tang's "Independency in Africa and Asia"; Ogbu U. Kalu's "African Christianity: from the world wars to decolonisation"; and David Maxwell's "Post-colonial Christianity in Africa".

Global Dictionary of Theology - William A. Dyrness and Veli-Matti Karkkainen, eds.
Call Number: THEOLOGY REFERENCE: BR95 .G56 2008
See articles on "African Initiated Churches", "African theology, evangelical contextual", "African theology, Protestant", "African theology, Roman Catholic", and "African traditional religion" to get an overview of theological streams and traditions on the African continent. Theological topics are treated under their main categories, so see the "Eschatology" article, for example, to find the section titled "Eschatology in African Perspective."

Encyclopedia of Religious Practices - Thomas Riggs, ed.
Call Number: THEOLOGY REFERENCE: BL80.3 .W67 2006 (3 vols.)
Discusses religious practices by country for each major religious tradition (defined as being practiced by 25% or more of the population). Briefer summaries are provided by country for other religions present. Topics include theologians, dietary practices, membership, social aspects, and controversial issues.

African Bible
Call Number: THEOLOGY REFERENCE: BS 192.3 .A1 1999 N35
ISBN: 996621450X
Produced by the Daughters of St. Paul for the African continent. Uses the New American Bible translation, with supplementary introductions, explanatory notes, pastoral comments, and illustrations.

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Africa Bible Commentary - Tokunboh Adeyamo, ed.
Call Number: THEOLOGY REFERENCE: BS491.3 .A47 2006
ISBN: 0310264731
A one-volume commentary produced by the Association of Evangelicals in Africa and written for a general African reader Commentaries offer introductory material, section-by-section exegesis, and African stories, metaphors, and proverbs.



You can find histories other than those listed below with a few subject searches in EUCLID: Christianity--Africa--History and Africa--Church History are two that work well.

African Reformation: African Initiated Christianity in the 20th Century - Allan H. Anderson
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BR1430 .A765 2001
Provides a history of African independent churches, underscoring questions of contextualization. Chapters are arranged by areas of Africa, followed by several chapters of lessons derived from this geographic survey.

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Church in Africa, 1450-1950 - Adrian Hastings
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BR1360 .H364 1994
ISBN: 0198263996
Begins roughly with Medieval Ethiopia and covers through approximately 1950. (Events after 1950 are more fully treated in Hastings' History of Christian Africa, 1950-1975.) An electronic version of this book is available to Emory affiliates through NetLibrary. See the Bibliography for additional sources.

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A History of the Church in Africa - Bengt Sundkler and Christopher Steed
Call Number: THEOLOGY CIRC DESK: BR1360 .S86 2000
ISBN: 052158342X
Perhaps best conceived as a one-volume encyclopedia of Africa, this work takes a broad stroke to African Christianity, but is notable as being one of the first large histories to privilege African materials above European and American writings about Africa. Coverage begins with the early church and extends through 1992. Perspective is ecumenical, including Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, and Independent Church perspectives. The bibliography provides a rich source of materials for further consideration.

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History of African Christianity, 1950-1975 - Adrian Hastings
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BR1360 .H388
ISBN: 0521293979
Four major time periods (1950; 1951-58; 1959-66; 1968-75) are each subdivided into 3 chapters: one on Church and State relations, one on mission churches, and one on African independent churches. The focus is on southern and English-speaking Africa.


African Theology

Some key themes in African theology include inculturation, liberation, and reconstruction.  The books below provide avenues for exploring these themes, as well as African explorations of other theological matters.

A Reader in African Christian Theology - John Parratt, ed.
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BR1360 .R433 1987
ISBN: 0281043094
Includes articles on theological method, doctrinal topics, and the role of the Church.

Christian Theology and Social Reconstruction - J. N. K. Mugambi
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BT30 .A4M84 2003
ISBN: 9966888764
Presents a theology of liberation and reconstruction with topics including applied theology, biblical hermeneutics, ecclesiology, and social transformation.

Christians and Churches of Africa - Ka Mana
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BR1360 .K23 2004
ISBN: 1570755442
A theology for rebuilding Africa, with a particular focus on christology and salvation as a social process.

Evangelical Witness in South Africa - Concerned Evangelicals
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BR1642 .S6 E93 1987
ISBN: 0802802915
A response to the state of emergency in South Africa (July 1985 to March 1986), this document by South African Christian evangelicals challenged their historic tendencies toward political conservatism, support for the status quo, and a lack of ecumenical outreach.

Hearing and Knowing: Theological Reflections on Christianity in Africa - Mercy Amba Oduyoye
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BT30 .A4 O38 1986
ISBN: 0883442582
Provides an overview of Christianity's history in Africa before turning to Oduyoye's reflections on important themes in African theology.

Introducing African Women's Theology - Mercy Amba Oduyoye
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BT83.55 .O3 2001
ISBN: 082981423X
Describes the context of African women's theology as well as common themes including ecclesiology, hospitality, eschatology, God, christology, and religious anthropology.

Issues in African Christian Theology - Samuel Ngewa, Mark Shaw, and Tite Tienou, eds.
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BR1360 .I85 1998
ISBN: 9966467793
Presents an African evangelical viewpoint on topics including theological tasks, the role of traditional African religions and the Bible in African Christianity, the person of Christ, and the role of the Church.

Jesus and the Gospel in Africa - Kwame Bediako
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BR1360 .B395 2004
ISBN: 1570755426
In three parts, this book first explores various African perspectives of Jesus before discussing the relationship of African theology to culture and the history of Christianity in Africa.

Kairos Document: Challenge to the Church - Kairos Theologians
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BT30 .S5 K34 1986
ISBN: 0802801897
The work of more than 50 pastors in and around Johannesburg, the 1985 Kairos Document called for a liberative anti-apartheid Prophetic Theology in South Africa, after first comparing it with a pro-apartheid State Theology and a moderate Church Theology.

New Testament Eschatology in an African Background - John S. Mbiti
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BS2545 .E7M35
ISBN: 0198216599
Beginning with an examination of Akamba concepts related to eschatology, this work examines the sacraments, the spirit world, the resurrection, and the language of eschatology in order to identify New Testament eschatology in an African context as a part of christological theology.

Theology Brewed in an African Pot - Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOKSTACKS: BT30 .A350 76 2008
ISBN: 9781570757952
This book is written for lay Africans interested in doing theology and readers from outside Africa who are interested in how theology is done on the continent. It explores the compatibility of the Christian faith with African cultures using excerpts from Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart to explore major Christian themes like the Trinity, creation, grace and sin, Jesus Christ, Mary, the saints, and inculturation.

Theology in Africa - Kwesi Dickson
Call Number: THEOLOGY BOOK STACKS: BT30 .A4 D53 1984
ISBN: 0883445085
Places African theological efforts in a historical and sociological context, including implications for African theological education.



African Christianity Bibliography - Elizabeth Leitch
Call Number: THEOLOGY REFERENCE Z7757 .A3 L45 1996
Arranged alphabetically by author, this work documents materials available in Christian libraries in Ghana, Malawi, the Netherlands, Scotland, and Sierra Leone.

An online bibliographic database that lists resources pertaining to Africana, African women, and women travelers, explorers, and missionaries to Africa



Pitts Theology Library is home to many periodicals from sub-Saharan Africa.  The list below focuses on some of the academic journals that may be used for scholarly purposes; if you are looking for denominational publications, the list is much larger.  Click here to learn about this special collection, or click here to see the full lists of periodicals available.  To search for titles from a specific country or denomination, use the complex search in EUCLID with the phrase "sub-saharan african periodicals collection" in one box and the denomination or country of interest in another.

1.  Acta Theologica.  Published by the University of the Orange Free State in South Africa.

2. African Journal of Biblical Studies.  Published by the Nigerian Association for Biblical Studies.

3. Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology.  Published by Scott Theological College in Kenya.

4. Africa Theological Journal.  Published by Makumira University College, Tumaini University in Tanzania.

5. AFER (African Ecclesial Review).  Published by AMECEA Gaba Publications in Kenya.

6. Hervormde Teologiese Studies.  Published by the University of Pretoria in South Africa.  New issues (2009 on are available as an open-access journal here:

7. Journal of African Christian Thought.  Published by the Akrofi-Christaller Memorial Centre for Mission Research and Applied Theology in Ghana.

8. Journal of Religion in Africa. Published by Brill Publishers.

9. Journal of Theology for Southern Africa.  Published by the South African Council of Churches.

10. Religion and Theology.  Began as a publication of the University of South Africa; now published by Brill.  Covers a wide range of topics, but many articles focus on issues related to religion in Africa.  Volumes not available online are available in the Periodicals Room of the library.


Web Sites

  • AfricaBib
    Covers 3 primary topics: African periodical literature, women in Africa, and women travellers, explorers, and missionaries to Africa. The African Periodical database will allow you to check the titles and dates indexed. Each database allows you to search by region of interest.
  • Aluka: Digital Library of Scholarly Resources From and About Africa
    Contains a number of original documents related to religion in Africa. Strong areas include items relating to apartheid in South Africa and documents from the World Council of Churches.
  • Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians
    An organization committed to writing and research by African women theologians. The "Library" link lists books and articles published by members of the Circle.
  • Dictionary of African Christian Biography
    Contains biographical profiles of African Christians. Search or browse by individual name, church denomination, or country.
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