© 2020

Understanding Religious Change in Africa and Europe: Crossing Latitudes

The Christianization of Jukun of Nigeria and Celtic Irish in Early Medieval Europe


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiii
  2. Nathan Irmiya Elawa
    Pages 1-15
  3. Nathan Irmiya Elawa
    Pages 17-43
  4. Nathan Irmiya Elawa
    Pages 45-66
  5. Nathan Irmiya Elawa
    Pages 67-82
  6. Nathan Irmiya Elawa
    Pages 83-94
  7. Nathan Irmiya Elawa
    Pages 159-162
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 163-183

About this book


This book examines and compares the religious experience of an African group with a European one. It offers an ethnographical investigation of the Jukun of north central Nigeria. The author also organically weaves into the narrative the Christianization of the Irish in a comparative fashion. Throughout, he makes the case for an African Christianity connected to a Celtic Irish Christianity and vice-versa -- as different threads in a tapestry.

This work is a product of a synthesis of archival research in three continents, interviews with surviving first-generation Christians who were active practitioners of the Jukun indigenous religion, and with former missionaries to the Jukun. On the Irish side, it draws from extant primary sources and interviews with scholars in Celtic Irish studies. In addition, pictures, diagrams, and excerpts from British colonial and missionary journals provide a rich contextual understanding of Jukun religious life and practices.

The author is among the emerging voices in the study of World Christianity who advocate for the reality of "poly-centres" for Christianity. This perspective recognizes voices from the Global South in the expansion of Christianity. This book serves as a valuable resource for historians, anthropologists, theologians, and those interested in missions studies, both scholars and lay readers seeking to deepen their understanding of World Christianity.

Nathan Elawa’s book is a timely and welcomed intervention on the scholarship of African Religions that locates Jukun religion in the historical, theoretical, and methodological studies of African religions. Elawa brings together several generations of scholarship into dialogue without “sacrificing” the specificity of Jukun religious life and his own astute creative interpretation; an amazing achievement.

-Elias Kifon Bongmba, Editor of The Routledge Companion to Christianity in Africa

In this thoughtful study, Nathan Elawa argues that while religious change is a given, local dynamics vary according to historical particulars and cultural context.  Using cross-cultural examples of the Christianization process, with gratifying attention to indigenous religion and culture, he advocates for a more polycentric and experience-based approach to Christian expansion in different regions. This approach is undergirded by the author’s helpful distillations of significant trends in studies of African religions and of World Christianity.

-Rosalind I. J. Hackett, PhD, Chancellor’s Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN USA


British Colonialism, Missionaries in Nigeria Christian Missions in Africa Christianity in Nigeria Inculturation of Christianity in Africa Insider’s Perspective and Christianization in Africa Irish and Romanization Irish Christianization Jukun Religion and Christian Missionaries Religions of Nigeria Religious Change in Europe and Africa

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Vancouver School of TheologyVancouverCanada

About the authors

Nathan Elawa born in Wukari, Nigeria studied Comparative Literature in English at the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. After years in nonprofit, he completed two graduate degrees at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada. In his doctorate, he examined religious change among the Jukun and Irish. He is also a musician.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Understanding Religious Change in Africa and Europe: Crossing Latitudes
  • Book Subtitle The Christianization of Jukun of Nigeria and Celtic Irish in Early Medieval Europe
  • Authors Nathan Irmiya Elawa
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-42179-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-42182-3
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-42180-9
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXIII, 183
  • Number of Illustrations 16 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Comparative Religion
    Cultural Studies
    African Culture
  • Buy this book on publisher's site