Vince L. Bantu. A Multitude of Peoples: Engaging Christianity’s Global Identity. IVP Academic, 2020. See here to purchase the book.
Vince L. Bantu teaches church history and Black church studies at Fuller. This book is about the history of Christianity in Africa, the Middle East, and along the Silk Road.
Christology is a prominent topic in this book. As Bantu demonstrates, trinitarianism, the relationship between Christ’s divine and human natures, and the question of how many wills Christ had was frequently discussed in African and Middle Eastern Christianity in antiquity. In Africa, there was resistance to Chalcedon, as some Christians adhered to miaphysitism. In the Middle East, there were creedal statements that resembled the Nicene Creed yet contained regionally distinct elements. One goal of Bantu’s book is to demonstrate that Christianity is not just a Western phenomenon but has historical roots in the non-Western world, as well. Of course, a challenge that can be made is that Western Christianity (i.e., Greek philosophy) permeated the non-Western world in antiquity. Still, Bantu does well to focus on the distinctive characteristics of non-Western Christianity.
The book also tells stories about monastics and the relationship of Christians to political authorities and nations. Much of this discussion is rather dry, with facts, dates, and events. There are some stories that add humanity to Bantu’s telling. At times, there is an interesting historical detail or argument. Bantu refers to a scholar who argues that only a minority of Egyptian Jews assisted the Arabs and Persians in their conquests, contradicting the anti-Jewish view that Jews were self-serving traitors. Bantu also discusses the legends that the apostle Thomas visited India, and where such legends are historically accurate.
This book was not exactly a compelling read for me, but people may find it useful. It gets deeply into Christology, on a nuanced level. And it lays out the personalities and events associated with non-Western Christianity.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest.