Bible Women: Evangelism and Cultural Transformation in the Early Korean Church
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SubjectWomen in church work--Korea--History
When Protestant missionaries first arrived on the Korean peninsula in the 1880s they encountered religious syncretism being practiced in a socio-cultural environment which prohibited all interaction between the predominantly male missionaries and the local females. To remedy this situation, the women missionaries converted and recruited a small number of indigenous women to augment evangelical outreach to other women. In addition to serving as the catalysts of an unprecedented Christian transformation, these "Bible Women" laid the foundation of a cultural transformation that enlightened Korean women from an oppressive social structure that totally marginalized them. Through a detailed literature review, this dissertation examines the major religions actively being practiced during the Choson Dynasty and how they affected women. It details the challenges faced by the early missionaries that led them to employ the Bible Women method. Several case studies detail the process of converting, recruiting, and training indigenous women to serve as female evangelists, including the persecution that they suffered for choosing to follow Christ and the enormous impact that they made both spreading the gospel and breaking down social barriers. Finally, a proposal is provided for how this same approach may be employed in evangelical outreach in similar cultural contexts.