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41 Both actions, the local and the ancient biblical, were seen as prefiguring Christ and neither was deemed wrong for its time. John N. Farquhar, Thomas E. Slater and other theologians who developed the “fulfilment theology” of religion in the nineteenth century might well have said the same thing had the sacrifice been in the Hindu context. But this was a local religion, which had never been sufficiently respected to be seen as a “prefiguring” of Christianity. Furthermore, the catechist was just jotting down his everyday practices as he developed them.

Indeed the idea that only one religion is right and all others wrong was largely an alien concept in the region until rather recently. It is not espoused by Hinduism, the Sufi-influenced Islam of South Asia, or Buddhism. Orthopraxis was usually demanded only by locally-limited religious systems as a condition for common residence. However, in the last twenty to thirty years, religion in the region has been heavily politicized as part of the local response to economic problems. Religious conflicts have also been fomented by certain segments of the Muslim and Hindu communities, such as Wahhabism and diaspora ideologies, in India and Pakistan and, minimally, in Bangladesh.

It too received guidance from beyond the region. Assam had been influenced by the Welsh and early Scottish Presbyterian “spirit-led” missions from the mid-nineteenth century, which also linked this region to Korea. In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the movement was led by two American Pentecostal ministers, Robert F. Cook (1880–1958) and George E. E. Abraham (1899–1974). Some of the rifts and unions in the developing Pentecostal churches related to tensions between expatriate and local ministers in the decades before Independence in 1947, while other problems concerned tension within the churches between dalit and Syrian streams.

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A Critical Examination of the Peshitta Version of the Book of Ezra by Ch.A. Hawley


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