This thesis looks at the process of Idoma reception and development of Christianity,
which was initiated by British Methodist missionaries in 1924. It argues that such a
process requires a cultural transformation through which Christianity is re-shaped to
suit the Idoma need, custom and traditions thereby regaining the lost cultural
cohesion which the Idoma need to adapt Christianity and spread it among themselves.
The thesis begins with the reasons for the choice of this study, the aims, purpose and
methodology of the research. It calls attention to the need to see the Idoma as subjects
of religious change and not merely as objects of evangelisation by overseas
missionaries. Another important consideration is that of Idoma ethnicity. Having
defined Idoma ethnicity the thesis argues that the question of origin could not be
satisfactorily answered from sociological and anthropological investigations alone,
but rather through the active participation in the life and culture of one's own people.
This leads to a discussion of Idoma theology, which is defined, explained and
compared to other types of primal African theology. It is strongly argued that Idoma
theology has its sources in Idoma history, language, culture, arts and music, and that
its main creeds and beliefs are traditionally passed from one generation to another.
Attention is drawn to the overall history of how the Idorna made contact with
Christianity, and their reaction to the Methodist missionaries and their early activities.
It is argued that, for Christianity to have effectively interacted with the Idoma people,
the missionaries should have realised that the Idoma had their own past, religion,
culture and tradition which needed to be respected and appreciated.
One of the central arguments of the thesis focuses on the spread of Christianity in
Idoma and the use of education as an agency of evangelism and church growth. The
methods and aims of Methodist mission education in Idoma and the messages that
were passed on are critically examined and evaluated. The thesis argues that the
Id^ma social and economic needs, language, culture, and environments were left out
of the missionary educational activities in Idoma, which were tailored primarily at
producing teachers, preachers and local missionaries who would spread Christianity
in Idoma. The section on Bible translation represents the heart of this thesis, focusing
on contextual factors in the reception and development of Christianity in Idoma. The
thesis evaluates how the New Testament was translated in comparison to the Old
Testament, and argues that the problem of inculturating Christianity into Idoma life
has not been sufficiently looked at either scientifically, ethnographically,
linguistically, historically or culturally in the New Testament translation. It argues
that these problems were better addressed in the more culturally attuned translation of
the Old Testament, using the principle of dynamic cultural or natural equivalence
translation. The thesis also looks at contemporary Idoma Christianity and the cultural
process through which the Idoma have come to terms with Christianity, accepting it
as an essential factor of their life and developing Christianity in their concrete
historical situation; it concludes that an awareness of the culture, religious beliefs and
traditions of a given people are essential components of the successful reception and
development of Christianity. Christianity is consistently interconnected to the cultural
presuppositions and practices of the culture where it is located. If Christianity is to
find expression among any group of people, it can only do so in and through their
cultural practices and traditions.