Carolyn Grace Seed, "Reception of the Gospel of John among the Isawa of Northern Nigeria and the Qiang of Western China, 1913–35," International Bulletin of Mission Research 44, no. 3 (2020): 257-266
Seed, Carolyn Grace. "Reception of the Gospel of John among the Isawa of Northern Nigeria and the Qiang of Western China, 1913–35." International Bulletin of Mission Research 44, no. 3 (2020): 257-266
First Published online: September 11, 2019. Online version on the Sage Journals platform is unpaginated; PDF download is paginated, and included in the 2020 volume.
This article examines the early mission history of the reception of the Gospel of John among two very different people groups, the Isawa of northern Nigeria and the Qiang of western China. It considers the similarities in their pre-Christian religion in terms of monotheism, messianic expectation, and self-understanding as children of Israel in order to theorize theological reasons for the positive reception of John’s Gospel. It concludes that John’s Gospel is the ideal place to start reading with monotheistic groups.
While researching the missional nature of the theology of T. F. Torrance (1913–2007), I came across records of the evangelization of the Qiang people of western China by his father, Thomas Torrance (1871–1959). The claim by the latter that the Qiang accepted the Gospel of John because they were “ancient Israelites” awaiting their Messiah was reminiscent of material previously accessed in the Church Mission Society (CMS) archives relating to the history of gospel reception among the Isawa of northern Nigeria under British missionary Walter Miller (1872–1952). Miller claimed that the messianic expectation of the self-designated “children of Israel” had prepared them to receive the gospel. In both instances, the missionary led the people to faith in Christ by reading the Gospel of John with them. These experiences raised questions about the relationship between monotheistic faiths, messianic expectations, and self-designation as children of Israel in the early mission history of the reception of the Gospel of John. This article explores these relationships, using cameo histories of the evangelization of the groups in the early twentieth century.