Historical Sketch of the Christian Tradition in Bengal

Farld, Shalkh
January 2011
Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology;2011, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p72
Academic Journal
The history of the Christian tradition in Bengal extends for about five hundred years. Though the total number of Christians in the region is not large, theirs is a complex and interesting history. There seems to be no single volume that satisfactorily reconstructs that whole complex history of Christians in Bengal. There are a number of books and other sources that focus on one particular denomination or missionary project or historical event or period. Several that are available in Dhaka are listed at the end of this brief sketch. The sketch itself begins with the founding of a Catholic community by Jesuit, Augustinian, Franciscan and Dominican missionaries in southern and southeastern Bengal in the wake of Portuguese traders in the sixteenth century and later. After some two centuries Protestant missionaries from diverse denominations and European nations began ministering in Bengal, among the most notable being William Carey and his fellow Baptists based at Serampore. With the revision of the charter of the British East India Company early in the nineteenth century, Protestants, Anglicans and Unitarians could more aggressively proselytize, but they gained minimal converts. Subsequently they adopted more respectful attitudes toward Hindu and Muslim religion and found greater acceptance thanks to their educational and medical services. Eventually native-born Christians came to take leadership in most of the Christian churches and denominations in Indian West Bengal and independent Bangladesh.


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