This thesis seeks to engage, in a critical and comparative manner, the
perspectives and methods utilised in studying the history of Protestant Christianity in
Korea by Korean Protestant historians. Within the history of Christian mission
Korea has been regarded as having exemplified many positive characteristics. Some
have gone so far as to claim that Korea was a miracle of 20th century Christian
This thesis attempts to analyse the manner in which such presumptions and
characterisations have influenced the historical study of Protestant Christianity in
Korea. The main argument of the thesis is that the perspectives and methods utilised
by the Korean Protestant historians in their study of Protestant Christian history in
Korea simply serve to expound and expand upon such presumptions. In this respect,
despite the purported application of different perspectives in their historical study of
Protestant Christianity in Korea the actual written histories of the Korean Protestant
historians remain identical in nearly all aspects.
The thesis comprises seven chapters which can be categorised into three major
parts. The first part of the thesis includes the first three chapters. These chapters
provide the theoretical basis upon which the critical and comparative analysis of the
five Korean Protestant historians is conducted. It will be arguably demonstrated that
the Korean Protestant historians systematically fail to obtain a coherent
understanding of the very context in which their historical studies are undertaken. It
will further be shown that this failure leads the historians to uncritically appropriate
the various historical presumptions regarding Protestant Christianity into their
historiographical perspective. We will further demonstrate how this further leads to
the actual written histories adopting identical forms, as well as contents.
The second part of the thesis will present three concrete examples of how the
uncritical appropriation of presumptions distorts the reality of the historical
experience. It will be shown that the failure by the historians to question such
presumptions result in the habitual replication of distorted narratives and mistaken
interpretation of historical experiences. It will further be shown how certain
presumptions, which are themselves the product of prejudiced historical
interpretation, function as a master narrative which undermines the appropriate
application of the purported historiographical perspectives of the Korean Protestant
The final part of the thesis will seek to identify theoretical and methodological
alternatives that can inform the historical study of Protestant Christianity in Korea.
Developments in methodology and perspective with regard to the historical study of
Christianity as a world religion can provide useful insights into how Korean
Protestant historical studies can move beyond its present state of entrapment.
Incorporating methods and perspectives that allow a dialogical interaction with the
universal historical experience of Christianity can also enlarge the narrative of
Korean Protestant history.