Protestant Missionaries in the Levant: Ungodly Puritans, 1820-1860, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Protestant Missionaries in the Levant

Ungodly Puritans, 1820-1860, 1st Edition

By Samir Khalaf


298 pages

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Through focusing on the unintended by-products of New England Puritanism as a cultural transplant in the Levant, this book explores the socio-historical forces which account for the failure of early envoys’ attempts to convert the ‘native,’ population. Early failure in conversion led to later success in reinventing themselves as agents of secular and liberal education, welfare, and popular culture. Through making special efforts not to debase local culture, the missionaries’ work resulted in large sections of society becoming protestantized without being evangelized.

An invaluable resource for postgraduates and those undertaking postdoctoral research, this book explores a seminal but overlooked interlude in the encounters between American Protestantism and the Levant. Using data from previously unexplored personal narrative accounts, Khalaf dates the emergence of the puritanical imagination, sparked by sentiments of American exceptionalism, voluntarism and "soft power" to at least a century before commonly assumed.


"As one of few books on American missionaries in Syria, Khalaf’s work is a necessary read for anyone interested in Middle East mission history." Deanna Ferree Womack, Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey, USA

Table of Contents

Part 1: On Calvinism, Evangelism and Puritanism 1. The Evangelical Imagination: New England Puritans and Foreign Missions 2. Universities as Nurseries of Piety 3. The World as an Enlarged New England 4. Images of Islam and the Orient Part 2: Leavening the Levant 5. Protestant Orientalism: Evangelical Christianity and Cultural Imperialism 6. The Levant as a Missionary Field 7. Puritans in Lebanon: Early Encounters 1830-1840 8. On Doing Much with Little Noise 9. Christianize or Civilize: Obstacles and Changing Strategies 1840-1860

About the Author

Samir Khalaf is Professor of Sociology at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. He has held academic appointments at Princeton, Harvard, MIT and New York University. Among his books are Lebanon Adrift, Sexuality in the Arab World (with John Gagnon), The Heart of Beirut, Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon, Cultural Resistance, and Lebanon’s Predicament. He has been a recipient of several international fellowships and research awards, a trustee of numerous foundations and serves on the editorial boards of a score of international journals and publications.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern History

The region's history from the earliest times to the present is catered for by this series made up of the very latest research. Books include political, social, cultural, religious and economic history.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Middle East / General
HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century
RELIGION / Christianity / History
RELIGION / Christian Ministry / Missions
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies