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A Commission ‘Great’ for Whom? Postcolonial Contrapuntal Readings of Matthew 28:18–20 and the Irony of William Carey

Cronshaw, Darren J. (2016) A Commission ‘Great’ for Whom? Postcolonial Contrapuntal Readings of Matthew 28:18–20 and the Irony of William Carey. Transformation, 33 (2). pp. 110-123. ISSN 0265-3788

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Abstract

Arguably, the modern missionary movement’s foundational text, the ‘Great Commission’ of Matthew
28:18–20 has been criticized for its use in legitimizing colonial oppression. Focusing on reception history in
South Asian polycolonial contexts, this article uses ‘Saidian’ contrapuntal reading to explore whether and
for whom the commission is ‘great’? William Carey used it as a proof-text in his ‘Enquiry’ for Christians
to engage in foreign mission. RS Sugirtharajah brings a postcolonial critique to Carey, but Saugata Bhaduri
appreciates the unintended de-colonizing consequences of Carey’s vernacular literature. Jayachitra Lalitha
questions why women were absent in Matthew 28:18–20 and why Dalit women still struggle. George
Soares-Prabhu’s reading alongside a Buddhist text suggests more integral mission and liberation. Despite
colonialism’s distorting affect, there is historical irony in Matthew 28’s influence in South India. Contrapuntal
conversations helpfully focus on the well-being of overlooked groups and recover some of the resistance
implicit in Matthew’s composition.

Item Type: Published Articles
Repository Version: Published Version
Keywords: Dalit theology, Great Commission, missionary movement, postcolonial, RS Sugirtharajah, William Carey
Fields of Research: 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220405 Religion and Society
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subjects: D - Missiology
College/Association with University of Divinity: Whitley College
Depositing User: Rev Prof Darren John Cronshaw
Date Deposited: 30 May 2016 06:26
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2018 01:29
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/1989

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