Abstract: This paper critically evaluates the ‘transformative engagement’ between expatriate missionaries and the Gogodala of Western Province, PNG, in light of a recent claim for Jewish ancestry and Israeli nationality. This claim is based on the contention that the original Gogodala ancestors, whose migration to the area is detailed in formal ancestral narratives or iniwa olagi, were members of the Lost Tribes of Israel. In July 2003 this culminated in a visit by Professor Tudor Parfitt, Director of Jewish Studies at the University of London, to investigate. This paper examines the extent to which this claim for identification with Israel represents ongoing dialogue about the origins and nature of Gogodala Christianity, and outlines the extent to which Gogodala communities are substantially connected to places and people beyond their village, province and even country, blurring the boundaries between local and global through their engagement with Christianity.
A part of the special issue: Negotiating the Horizon-Living Christianity in Melanesia