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The Missionary Problem in Early Modern Protestantism: British, Irish and Scandinavian Perspectives

Ryrie, Alec (2020) 'The Missionary Problem in Early Modern Protestantism: British, Irish and Scandinavian Perspectives.', in Northern European Reformations: Transnational Perspectives. , pp. 377-403.


Alec Ryrie considers why, despite rhetorical commitment to the enterprise, British and Scandinavian Protestants were so slow to engage in cross-cultural mission. After surveying the lacklustre efforts made, the chapter briefly considers the theological obstacles to early Protestant mission, before examining the “missions” to the “barbaric” peoples within these kingdoms’ European territories: the Celtic peoples of Britain and Ireland, and the Sámi of northern Scandinavia. The chapter argues that conformity, civility and state-building were the keynotes of those efforts; that figures like Bishop William Bedell in Ireland who bucked that trend were swimming against the tide; and that that model was exported to the New World. After a brief consideration of missions to slaves in the English Caribbean, the chapter concludes by observing the change of tone in the early eighteenth century and by comparing structural, institutional explanations of this history with theological, conceptual ones.

Item Type:Book chapter
Additional Information:Title changed prior to publication. Previous title: The Curious Incident of the Early Modern Protestant Missionary
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Publisher statement:This a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of a chapter published in Northern European Reformations: Transnational Perspectives. The final authenticated version is available online at: 24m
Date accepted:20 March 2018
Date deposited:27 October 2021
Date of first online publication:23 September 2020
Date first made open access:23 September 2022

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