Gifford, Paul 1944-
GIFFORD, Paul 1944-
PERSONAL: Born 1944. Education: B.A.; M.Litt.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Cambridge University Press, 40 West 20th St., New York, NY 10011.
The Religious Right in Southern Africa, Baobab Books/University of Zimbabwe Publications (Harare, Zimbabwe), 1988.
Paul Valery: le dialogue des choses divines, Corti (Paris, France), 1989.
Christianity, Ecumenical Documentation and Information Centre of Eastern and Southern Africa (Hatfield, Harare, Zimbabwe), 1990.
The New Crusaders, Pluto (Concord, MA), 1991.
Christianity and Politics in Doe's Liberia, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1993.
(Editor, with Brian Stimpson) Paul Valery: Musique, Mystique, Mathematique, Presses Universitaires de Lille (France), 1993.
Paul Valery: "Charmes", University of Glasgow French and German Publications (Glasgow, Scotland), 1995.
(Editor) The Christian Churches and the Democratisation of Africa, E. J. Brill (New York, NY), 1995.
African Christianity: Its Public Role, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1998.
(Editor, with Brian Stimpson) Reading Paul Valery: Universe in Mind, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1999.
(With others) Two Thousand Years and Beyond: Faith, Identity, and the Common Era, Routledge (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor to Exporting the American Gospel, edited by Steve Brouwer, Routledge (New York, NY), 1996.
SIDELIGHTS: Paul Gifford has written and edited a number of works focused on Christianity in Africa. In Christianity and Politics in Doe's Liberia, according to American Historical Review contributor Geoffrey Johnston, Gifford "argues with hardly a pause.... [that] Christianity in Liberia during the 1980s was marked by the transfer of American fundamentalism to West Africa." "Because it was so other-worldly, fundamentalism provided significant support for Samuel Doe's corrupt and incompetent tyranny," continued Johnson's description of the book's thesis. "Far from being a positive force," related D. Elwood Dunn in Journal of Church and State, "this purported Christian growth is lamented as devoid of the substance of the gospel and social redemption."
In a Times Literary Supplement review of Christianity and Politics in Doe's Liberia, A. M. Daniels complained that Gifford's "hostility towards the kind of religion he describes means that the thousands of ordinary Liberians who have accepted it have no more than a walk-on part in the book, as mere creatures of circumstance." Daniels found further fault with Gifford's presentation and analysis of "politically quietist theology," as well as noting that "in ascribing the longevity of Doe's regime . . . he omits or underestimates internal factors." "Nevertheless," concluded Daniels, Christianity and Politics in Doe's Liberia "will be of interest to both Africans and sociologists of religion." Although Johnston was also unimpressed with some aspects of the book, he similarly found the "good book" to have value: "It is well written, clearly argued, and provides a very useful case study of African Christianity since the Pentecostal explosion." "It raises issues about the relationship between state and civil society that are sure to figure prominently in the aftermath of the civil war that has devastated [Liberia] over the past four years," complimented Dunn. Based solely on this view, continued Dunn, "the book is a welcome addition to the literature on Liberia."
Gifford's more recent works discussing Christianity in Africa include 1995's The Christian Churches and the Democratisation of Africa, which Gifford edited, and African Christianity: Its Public Role, a "fascinating survey," reported Christopher Fyfe in a Times Literary Supplement review. The Christian Churches and the Democratisation of Africa grew out of a 1993 conference at the University of Leeds. "This comparative volume" contains thirteen "extremely informative" chapters that underscore "the different ways in which the churches in Africa have responded to and, more particularly, shaped, the wider society," described Rosalind I. J. Hackett in Journal of Church and State. The Christian Churches and the Democratisation of Africa "should serve handsomely to counter any surviving political reductionist explanations that democracy is a purely Western or Protestant-derived phenomenon," praised Hackett. African Christianity is a "lucid, well-informed survey" in which "Gifford shows . . . the 'mainline' missionary Churches are more powerful than ever before, while the independent Churches are declining, eclipsed by the Pentecostal, 'born again', Churches which have swept over Africa from the United States in recent decades," summarized Fyfe. "[Gifford's] concern is with their public role," Fyfe added, "To put them in their public context, he has a masterly brief opening chapter outlining the successive, unusually contradictory, political theories expounded by Africanists over the years."
Among Gifford's other publication are several titles focused on Paul Valery; among them 1989's Paul Valery: le dialogue des choses divines, Paul Valery: Musique, Mystique, Mathematique, a 1993 volume he edited with Brian Stimpson, and Paul Valery: "Charmes", which was released in 1995.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Africa, summer, 2000, Donal B. Cruise O'Brien, review of The Christian Churches and the Democratisation of Africa, p. 520.
African Affairs, April, 1999, Kevin Ward, review of African Christianity: Its Public Role, p. 272.
American Historical Review, October, 1994, p. 1374.
Choice, June, 1999, D. Jacobsen, review of African Christianity: Its Public Role, p. 1805.
Church History, December, 1997, Joel A. Carpenter, review of Exporting the American Gospel: Global Christian Fundamentalism, p. 885.
French Studies, January, 2001, Peter Collier, review of Reading Paul Valery: Universe in Mind, p. 116.
International Bulletin of Missionary Research, January, 2000, Ogbu U. Kalu, review of African Christianity: Its Public Role, p. 36.
Journal of Asian and African Studies, August, 2001, Elias Bongmba, review of African Christianity: Its Public Role, p. 322.
Journal of Church and State, autumn, 1994, pp. 851-852; autumn, 1997, pp. 809-810; spring, 2000, Caleb O. Oladipo, review of African Christianity: Its Public Role, p. 374.
Journal of European Studies, December, 1999, Harry Guest, review of Reading Paul Valery: Universe in Mind, p. 446.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, September, 2001, Simon Coleman, review of African Christianity: Its Public Role, p. 576.
Modern Language Review, April, 1991, pp. 471-472; April, 1995, pp. 455-456; July, 1996, pp. 735-736.
Religion, April, 2000, Matthews A. Ojo, review of The Christian Churches and the Democratisation of Africa, p. 186; April, 2000, Matthews A. Ojo, review of African Christianity: Its Public Role, p. 187.
Times Literary Supplement, July 22, 1994, p. 29; December 25, 1998, p. 22.*