chapter  8
Ancient Egypt, Missionaries and Christianity in Southern Africa
Pages 14

This chapter discusses some of the ways in which Ancient Egypt informed the worldview of missionaries in southern Africa, arriving from the early 19th century, and the lasting effect this had on local Christian and secular thinking. Ancient Egypt was, for the missionaries, part of an ancient Near Eastern world which loomed large in their thoughts. It is most helpful to consider Egypt not in isolation but as part of this wider imagined place and time. This imagined world was centred upon the Old Testament, and supplemented by classical authors. These two sources were crucial not only to the missionaries but to most educated western Europeans of the time (Ucko and Champion 2003). The Old Testament included the record of the origins of humanity and the history of that part of it which had been central to the salvation history of the Christian religion. The Old Testament was crucial not only in its unique religious significance, but also as a detailed and coherent narrative history of an otherwise little-recorded past.