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Integration Processes in the Circulation of Knowledge

Cases from Korea


Edited By Marion Eggert and Florian Pölking

Korea, geographically situated at cultural crossroads, has a long history of creative engagement with knowledge from outside sources. This volume discusses processes of knowledge integration – of interpretive adaptation, dissection, selection and re-assemblage, of reduction and amplification, as well as of blending with existing cognitive structures – in pre-modern and early modern times. The articles assembled deal with a wide range of sources (including material objects as carriers of knowledge) and with diverse fields of knowledge, spanning the realms of philosophy, religion, literature, military and technical knowledge, and political thought. Together, they richly illustrate the transformative powers inherent in re-configurations of knowledge.
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Sung-deuk Oak - Christianity as the Religion of Civilisation and Fulfilment: Global and Local Elements in Theology of Religions of Early Korean Protestantism


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Sung-Deuk Oak

Christianity as the Religion of Civilisation and Fulfilment: Global and Local Elements in Theology of Religions of Early Korean Protestantism

Abstract Tracing the genealogy of Korean Protestant theories of East Asian religions, this paper argues that early prominent Protestant missionaries and Korean Christians produced a new form of Christian episteme through the synthesis of Western/Christian superiority claims with fulfilment theology which accepted congenial elements from Korean religions.

This paper examines the development of the Protestant missionary theologies of East Asian religions in Korea at the turn of the twentieth century, which were the result of integrating three elements—Anglo-American, Chinese, and Korean. Pioneer North American missionaries in Korea accepted the contemporary Anglo-American theologies of East Asian religions as well as those from China adopted by senior missionaries for a generation. Korean Christian leaders, who learned these two sources through missionary studies of Korean religions, began to write their own comparative religious apologetics in vernacular Korean from 1897. [Diagram 1] shows this process of circulation and mutual influence. Unlike other studies that included Japanese sources, this paper seeks to show the genealogy of specifically Protestant theories of East Asian religions by tracing them to their American-Canadian and Chinese Protestant roots.

In addition to tracing the theological sources of Korean Protestant attitudes toward other religions, this paper has another aim, to provide a nuanced interpretation of the theology of religions prevalent among the first generation Protestant missionaries and Korean...

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