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Pathways to Heaven: Contesting Mainline and Fundamentalist Christianity in Papua New Guinea

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Pathways to Heaven

Contesting Mainline and Fundamentalist Christianity in Papua New Guinea

Holger Jebens

304 pages, 1 map, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-005-2 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (July 2005)

ISBN  978-1-84545-334-3 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (September 2006)

eISBN 978-1-78920-572-5 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Buy the eBook from these vendorsRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“The book will be of value to those who study the religions of Oceania and those who are concerned with missions and local Christianities.“  ·  Anthropos

What Jebens has provided us on the whole, is a densely-knit and fascinating study, which will be of interest to all scholars of religion and social change in the Oceanic and Asiatic regions. His anthropological perspective illuminates areas of the everyday practice of faith and the working out of religious conflict that would not be accessible to us otherwise.“  ·  Asian Journal of Social Science

“This ethnography’s strengths includethe clear presentation of multiple perspectives, emic and etic, all of which are subjected to constructive critique. It incorporates both qualitative and quantitative methods.”  ·  Anthropological Forum

“…essential reading for those interested in the complexities of Christian missionisation and conversion in Papua New Guinea, and offers valuable insights into differing interpretations and experiences of Christian practices and beliefs in a rural context.”  ·  The Australian Journal of Anthropology

“The great value in this study stems from the fact that the author leaves no perspective out of the presentation and analysis of the data he amassed, including emic and etic, and the fact that he is very careful theoretically.”  ·  Pacific Affairs

“There is more to this rich work than one can do justice to in a short review…it is the finest account of the cultural bases of denominational conflict I have read anywhere outside of Latin America, and in its ethnographic depth it is probably the fullest we have in the anthropological literature from anywhere.”  ·   Joel Robbins in JRAI

Jebens's book is a theoretically sophisticated, ethnographically rich, and delightfully personal story that is humble, warm, and yet scientifically rigorous. It is also accessible to students.   · Anthropological Forum

”This is a carefully documented, and insightfully interpreted, ethnographic case study…Independently-minded, pleasantly free form lip-service to extraneous analytical paradigms or modes. Scholarly, meticulous, and full of well-grounded and neatly formulated analyses as well as complexly reported data, this book should surely become one of the classics of the analysis of Christianity in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific generally, as well as beyond the region.”  · Journal of Contemporary Religion

"This is a remarkable study of the cultural bases of interdenominational conflict, and one that is rendered all the more arresting for being set in a Papua New Guinea village with less than 200 inhabitants. One of the few really deep studies we have of the lives of Melanesian Christians, it is also a major contribution to the anthropology of Christianity and to the study of fundamentalist forms of religion. It deserves a wide readership in anthropology, religious studies, and beyond."  · Joel Robbins, University of California, San Diego, author of "Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society"


How does global Christianity relate to processes of globalisation and modernization and what form does it take in different local settings? These questions have lately proved to be of increasing interest to many scholars in the social sciences and humanities. This study examines the tensions, antagonisms and outright confrontations that can occur within local Christian communities upon the arrival of global versions of fundamentalism and it does so through a rich and in-depth ethnographic study of a single case: that of Pairundu, a small and remote Papua New Guinean village whose population accepted Catholicism, after first being contacted in the late 1950s, and subsequently participated in a charismatic movement, before more and more members of the younger generation started to separate themselves from their respective catholic families and to convert to one of the most radical and fastest growing religious groups not only in contemporary Papua New Guinea but world-wide: the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. This case study of local Christianity as a lived religion contributes to an understanding of the social and cultural dynamics that increasingly incite and shape religious conflicts on a global scale.

Holger Jebens is Research Fellow at the Frobenius Institute and Managing Editor of Paideuma, and, from 2001–2002, was Theodor-Heuss Lecturer at the New School of Social Research.

Subject: Anthropology of ReligionAnthropology (General)
Area: Asia-Pacific


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