27 JANUARY 1939, Page 32


Vol. I: The First Five Centuries By Kenneth Scott Latourette

This is the first instalment to be published of a work in six volumes by the Professor of Missions in Yale University: an impressive, even a formidable undertaking. The size and distinction of this volume (Eyre and Spottiswoode, as.) would seem to call for a longer review : but it is clearly impossible to form a valid judgement of its merits until it can be seen in the perspective of the complete work. For this first instalment is admittedly prolegomena, an introduction to the more detailed and original treatment of missionary activities which we are promised in volumes III to VI, and in itself contains little that is new. In itself, indeed, it could scarcely stand comparison with the relevant volumes of Fliche and Martin's great Histoire de l'Eglise depuis les Origins jusqu'a nos fours, which has now reached Tome VI. Happily, Professor Latourette's book invites no such comparison, unless incidentally; for its scope is not that of a full church history, but of a survey of the causes and effects, the processes and the influences of the spread of

Christianity. The enquiry is of peculiar relevance at the present day, when many minds in the Church are dismayed and perplexed by a contemplation of the opposite process in many parts of the world; and Professor Latourette has carried out his task with completeness and accuracy.