Guidelines for Book Reviewers
International Bulletin of Mission Research (ibmr.omsc.org)


Book reviews are a vital feature of the IBMR. They are assigned by the editors, and unsolicited book reviews are rarely accepted. In reviewing books, please adhere to the following guidelines. 

Objectivity. We ask that a note of respectful objectivity be maintained in all reviews, no matter how critical. If personal vested interests, opinions, or animus make such a review unlikely or impossible, please do not attempt to review the book. Harsh, one-sided reviews are generally not credible and will not be published in the IBMR. 

Length. The word length of reviews is specified by the editor, normally between 300 and 500 words (not counting the book’s publication information or the reviewer’s identification). 

Format. Book review manuscripts should be single-spaced, using a 12-point font such as Times New Roman, with one-inch margins. Reviews should include some word about the author(s) or editor(s) of the book. Any quotation in the review should be followed by the page reference (or inclusive page numbers) in parentheses. A sample book review (slightly longer than ordinary) that shows how to handle various formatting questions is below for your reference.

 Please proofread your review carefully—especially proper names, technical terms, foreign phrases, dates, and numbers. Try to ensure accuracy in every detail. If possible, send your book review as an e-mail attachment to the editor. A printed copy is not necessary.

 Headings. The following style should be used for headings:

 Polygamy Reconsidered: African Plural Marriage and the Christian Churches.
 By Eugene Hillman. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1975. Pp. x, 266. $15; paperback $7.95.

 American–East Asian Relations: A Survey.
Edited by Ernest R. May and James E. Thompson, Jr. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1972. Pp. xv, 425. $14.95.

 Reviewer’s identification. The name of the book reviewer should come at the end of the review. Please include a brief (1 or 2 sentences) biographical note indicating your present position (with full name and location of school or agency); missionary experience, if any (country, assignment, and years); and nationality (if non-U.S.A.). Please do not expect the editors to add your biographical note, even if you are famous or have written previously for the IBMR.

 Thank you for your willingness to write the review and for agreeing to send it to us within 60 days after you receive the book. No remuneration is given for reviews published in the IBMR, but authors will receive online access and a complimentary print copy of the issue in which the review appears.

 Sincerely,

Thomas John Hastings
Editor


SAMPLE BOOK REVIEW 

 New Faith in Ancient Lands: Western Missions in the Middle East in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries. 

Edited by Heleen Murre–van den Berg. Leiden: Brill, 2006. Pp. xii, 340. €99 / $134. 

New Faith in Ancient Lands makes a powerful contribution to mission history. The product of a conference sponsored by the University of Leiden, it contains fourteen essays on Protestant and Catholic missions to Muslims, Jews, and Orthodox Christians in the Middle East.

In an incisive introductory chapter, Heleen Murre–van den Berg describes the nineteenth century as a period of special Christian interest in the Middle East, comparable to the Crusader era of the late eleventh through the late thirteenth centuries. Missionaries were infused with “geopiety” (p. 10) distinguished by renewed interest in the Holy Land as a focus for pilgrimage and biblical study. (Indeed, the essay by Heyberger and Verdeil describes nineteenth-century Jesuit missions to the Holy Land as both a “comeback” [p. 40] from the Crusades and a source of insight for exegetical study.) Likewise, missions to the Middle East played important roles in constructing “Christian Orientalism” (p. 17), as essays by Stockdale on the British Church Missionary Society (CMS) in Palestine, and Kaminsky on the German Kaiserwerth institutions in the Levant, attest. Murre–van den Berg also draws a distinction between “conversionist” and “civilizational” programs (p. 16), associating the latter with a tendency toward secularization that occurred in missionary schools (as Fleischmann argues in an essay about American girls’ education in Syria).

Several contributors stress the importance of relations between missions and governments, among them Bourmand, who considers how the establishment of the CMS hospital in Nablus depended on British mediation with Ottoman authorities, and Buffon, who shows how Franciscans in the Holy Land resorted to “internationalism” by calling various European governments to support their work. O’Mahony’s essay on Coptic Catholics, Badr’s on the Armenian and Arab Protestant communities of Syria-Lebanon, Tamcke’s on the Kurds and local Christians of northwestern Iran, and Merguerian’s on the Armenians of eastern Anatolia trace the influence of missions on ethnic, sectarian, and national identities. Ryad points to the unexpected consequences of Christian mission work for Muslim social activism in Egypt.

In an essay on a German orphanage in Jerusalem, Löffler reflects, “I would like to see mission history integrated into the newly developed discipline of Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte (Modern Church History), which tries to combine methods and theories of theology as well as of social and cultural history in order to interpret the making of religion in modernity” (p. 153). This excellent volume certainly helps to achieve that goal.

Heather J. Sharkey

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Heather J. Sharkey is Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.