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Customs and Cultures

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Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • 1. Shocks and Surprises
  • 2. Rhyme and Reason
  • 3. Race and Ranting
  • 4. Hoes and Headaches
  • 5. Friends and Frustrations
  • 6. Devils and Doubts
  • 7. Drums and Drama
  • 8. Queer Sounds, Strange Grammars and Unexpected Meanings
  • 9. Old Customs and New Ways
  • 10. New Solutions to Old Problems
  • Appendix
  • Bibliography
  • Notes
  • Index

by: Eugene A. Nida (Author)

How can the church meaningfully and intelligently engage cultures with Christianity?

Oftentimes, it is not the message but the messenger that provides the greatest stumbling block for the average non-Christian. A missionary’s ability to identify with the people, not in sympathy, but in empathy, is one of the keys. Language is another crucial factor. Anthropology and missions have much to learn from each other.

Customs and Cultures provides practical ways missionaries can become acquainted with the cultural anthropology of the local community. Eugene Nida, a leading scholar and devout Christian, presents a thorough study of the means and methods which best communicate Christianity to people of diverse backgrounds. Dr. Nida is uniquely equipped to write this book because he is a well-known specialist in linguistics, anthropology studies, and the interpretation of the Christian faith, who worked with missionaries on translation problems for over thirty years.

The development of the church is the real goal. The power of Jesus Christ working through his consecrated servants can sanctify all of life to the glory of God.


  • The need of an anthropology for Christian missions is admirably met in these informing pages.  Each chapter shows a wide knowledge of racial, tribal, and human customs.  Human beings in this world have multiple diversities.  Dr. Nida covers the field with great versatility.


  • A wide-ranging, sometimes startling, and often humorous encounter with the strange ways of the human race which will appeal as much to the general reader as to the missionary.

    Theology Today

  • It deserves to be high on the list of ‘must’ books for those looking forward to any type of missionary service, at home or abroad…It is a fascinating book full of humor and wisdom, good for all kinds of people.

    International Journal of Religious Education

  • He has written a stimulating and thought-provoking volume which deals with missionaries in relation to people of other cultures and backgrounds.  His illustrations richly demonstrate his thesis that every missionary needs to become intimately acquainted with the cultural anthropology of the people whom he ministers.

    United Evangelical Action

  •  Informative, yet non-technical, this book will have interest for the general reader as well as the specialist.

    N.Y. Times

  • The book is a MUST read for all foreign missionaries.  It has been a long time since I have found a book more interesting, and as a missionary, one of more practical value.

    Gospel Herald

  • It should be absolutely required reading for every student in every seminary, Bible Institute, or training school.


Additional Details

  • Pages: 320
  • Publisher: William Carey Library
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publish Year: 1954
  • ISBN: 9780878087235
  • Vendor: William Carey Library