Gottlob Schreiner LMS Letters, London Missionary Society Collection, SOAS, University of London

Gottlob Schreiner LMS Letters, London Missionary Society Collection, SOAS, University of London

There are 20 Gottlob Schreiner letters in the LMS Collection at SOAS. These are all of those he wrote to the LMS Directors when employed as an LMS missionary. They are embedded within the LMS / South Africa materials and their dates span the period from February 1838 to August 1846.

Gottlob Schreiner’s LMS letters are ‘unusual’ in a number of respects:

  • There are fairly few of them, compared with the volume from many other LMS missionaries to the Directors.
  • They mainly take the form of complaints at their start, and vociferous protests at their end; at least at this stage of his life when they were written, Gottlob appears to have been an uncharitable disputatious person to his close colleagues.
  • These letters notably do not use racial categories, except perhaps about Boer people; but they do use ethnic ones. This is very different from the sole Rebecca Schreiner letter to the LMS on file, which is replete with extreme forms (but which however was written for publication in an LMS magazine).
  • The moral order of the letters is that of God with his hand over the preacher, and the preacher then standing over the people, acting as an intermediary between them and God. ‘Race’ does not appear to figure in this.

In addition, these letters are very ‘literate’. They do not suggest that Gottlob Schreiner’s command of written English was limited, as the Schreiner literature often repeats. Even his very first pre-ordination letter to the LMS is polished; and while this could have been coached, it is unlikely that all the others were.

Gottlob Schreiner’s letters to the Basle missionaries he initially trained with can be bound in Karel Schoeman’s book in translation (the originals are in German) and they show him wheeling and dealing regarding the LMS. However, later he also stopped communicating with his Basle mentors when leading up to leaving the LMS and joining the Methodists.

There are a number of Gottlob Schreiner letters in the Schreiner-Hemming collection and in the Findlay Family papers. These family letters are interestingly compared with his LMS ones and are discussed in the overviewing commentaries for these collections.

 

Last updated: 8 February 2017


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