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T he author of this book, a professor of history at the University of Delaware, is an academic of diverse interests, having published volumes on the maritime communities of colonial Massachusetts and the origins of fervent Protestantism in the American South. She is also married to a retired Pentagon official who survived the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001.

These varied concerns are brought together in the present account of Evangelical Protestant missionary activity in the Middle East during the 1820s. The institution she treats was the Boston-based American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The efforts it made among Muslims, after an early feint toward the Hindus of India, came under the rubric of a “Palestine mission.” Heyrman has chosen to concentrate on two American preachers of the Evangelical word, Pliny Fisk and Levi Parsons, who made for the Holy Land via Christian Malta in 1819. They were graduates of Andover Theological Seminary, as it is known today, founded as a redoubt of strict Calvinism.

Other voices on Islam competed with familiar stereotypes that Islam was everywhere introduced by force, and was based on unquestioning obedience to clerics. The scholar George Sale (1697-1736), who translated and published Qur’an in English in 1734, argued that Islam was not exclusively imposed on its adherents, but was appealing because of its strict monotheism and the identity of the God worshiped alike by Christians and Muslims. Sale’s contemporary, the better-known Edward Gibbon, had praised Muhammad at length. They were not alone.

T he author of this book, a professor of history at the University of Delaware, is an academic of diverse interests, having published volumes on the maritime communities of colonial Massachusetts and the origins of fervent Protestantism in the American South. She is also married to a retired Pentagon official who survived the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001.

These varied concerns are brought together in the present account of Evangelical Protestant missionary activity in the Middle East during the 1820s. The institution she treats was the Boston-based American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The efforts it made among Muslims, after an early feint toward the Hindus of India, came under the rubric of a “Palestine mission.” Heyrman has chosen to concentrate on two American preachers of the Evangelical word, Pliny Fisk and Levi Parsons, who made for the Holy Land via Christian Malta in 1819. They were graduates of Andover Theological Seminary, as it is known today, founded as a redoubt of strict Calvinism.

Other voices on Islam competed with familiar stereotypes that Islam was everywhere introduced by force, and was based on unquestioning obedience to clerics. The scholar George Sale (1697-1736), who translated and published Qur’an in English in 1734, argued that Islam was not exclusively imposed on its adherents, but was appealing because of its strict monotheism and the identity of the God worshiped alike by Christians and Muslims. Sale’s contemporary, the better-known Edward Gibbon, had praised Muhammad at length. They were not alone.

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The religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s major religions, as well as by people switching faiths. Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion. If current trends continue, by 2050 …

These are among the global religious trends highlighted in new demographic projections by the Pew Research Center. The projections take into account the current size and geographic distribution of the world’s major religions, age differences, fertility and mortality rates, international migration and patterns in conversion.



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