The Overly Candid Missionary Historian: C.G.A. Oldendorp’s Theological Ambivalence over Slavery in the Danish West Indies

Anders Ahlbäck

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


This article examines the depictions of slavery and the Afro-Caribbean slave population in C.G.A. Oldendorp’s history of the Moravian mission to the Danish sugar islands S t T homas, S t John and S t Croix. Comparing the original manuscript with the heavily edited version authorized and published by the radical-pietistic Moravian church in 1777, it discusses Oldendorp’s theological and emotional ambivalences over the issue of slavery. S truggling to reconcile the socially conformist Moravian mission theology with his personal impressions from a voyage to the Caribbean in 1767–68 and close encounters with Afro-Caribbean Christian converts, Oldendorp presented an ambiguous critique of slavery. T he cuts, omissions and alterations to his manuscript made by the editor, Johann Jakob Bossart, point to significant tensions within the Moravian church over this issue in the 1760s–1770s. 

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Title of host publicationPorts of Globalisation, Places of Creolisation Nordic Possessions in the Atlantic World during the Era of the Slave Trade
EditorsHolger Weiss
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-30278-5
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book


  • Afro-Caribbeans
  • C.G.A. Oldendorp
  • Danish West Indies
  • Denmark--Colonies--History
  • Johann Jakob Bossart
  • Lutheranism
  • Moravians
  • Slavery-- Scandinavia--History
  • Slavery--Denmark--History
  • anti-slavery sentiment
  • missionary work
  • pietism
  • slavery

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