Premack, “Prophets, evangelists, and missionaries”

Premack, Laura.  2015. Prophets, evangelists, and missionaries: Trans-Atlantic interactions in the emergence of Nigerian Pentecostalism.  Religion 45(2): 221-238.

Abstract: This article historicizes the contemporary Pentecostal movement in Nigeria by examining relationships between Nigerian prophets, British missionaries, and American evangelists in the 1930s and 1940s. First, the article challenges assumptions about the genealogy and chronology of Nigerian Pentecostalism by taking a close look at the beginnings of the Christ Apostolic Church. Then, it discusses new evidence which reveals the surprising influence of a marginal American evangelist and renegade British missionary on the church’s doctrine. Making use of a wide range of evidence from Nigerian, Welsh, and American archives, the article argues that while the Aladura movement may have had indigenous origins, its development made significant use of foreign support and did so much earlier than has been appreciated by previous studies. The larger significance of this argument is that it shows the mutual constitution of American, British, and Nigerian Pentecostalism; instead of emerging first in the US and UK and then being taken to Africa, Pentecostalism’s development across the Atlantic was coeval.

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