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Week 3: Reading the Bible in Colonial India

Seminar Questions

  • Why was the printing press so important for Christian missionaries in India?
  • What role did print play in defining ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Christianity’?
  • How and why did Rammohun Roy make use of the printing press?
  • What was the effect of republishing Rammohun Roy’s works in Britain?

Seminar Readings

** Roy, Rammohun, The Precepts of Jesus (London, 1823), iii-xxviii

** Marshman, Joshua, A Defence of the Deity and Atonement of Jesus Christ, in Reply to Ram-Mohun Roy, of Calcutta (London, 1822), iii-v and 1-16

* Zastoupil, Lynn, ‘Defining Christians, Making Britons: Rammohun Roy and the Unitarians’, Victorian Studies, 44 (2002)

* Üçerler, M. Antoni J, ‘Missionary Printing’, in Suarez, Michael and H. R. Woudhuysen (eds), The Book: A Global History (Oxford, 2013)

Additional Readings


Carpenter, Lant, A Review of the Labours, Opinions, and Character of Rajah Rammohun Roy (London, 1833)

Collet, Sophia Dobson (ed.), The Life and Letters of Rajah Rammohun Roy (Calcutta, 1914)

Roy, Rammohun, Translation of the Íshopanishad, One of the Chapters of the Yajur Véda (Calcutta, 1816


Bayly, Christopher, ‘Rammohan Roy and the Advent of Constitutional Liberalism in India, 1800–30’, Modern Intellectual History, 4 (2007)

Carson, Penelope, ‘An Imperial Dilemma: The Propagation of Christianity in Early Colonial India’, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 18 (1990)

Carson, Penelope, The East India Company and Religion, 1698-1858 (Woodbridge, 2012)

Killingley, Dermot, Rammohun Roy in Hindu and Christian Tradition (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1993)

Lorenzen, David, ‘Who Invented Hinduism?’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 41 (1999)

Oddie, Geoffrey, Imagined Hinduism: British Protestant Missionary Constructions of Hinduism, 1793-1900 (New Delhi, 2006)

Sengupta, Parna, Pedagogy for Religion: Missionary Education and the Fashioning of Hindus and Muslims in Bengal (Berkley, CA, 2011)

Sugirtharajah, R.S., ‘The Bible in Asia’, in Marsden, Richard, James Carleton Paget, John Riches, and E. Ann Matter (eds.) The New Cambridge History of the Bible: From 1750 to the Present (Cambridge, 2015), vol. 4

White, Daniel, From Little London to Little Bengal: Religion, Print, and Modernity in Early British India, 1793-1835 (Baltimore, MA, 2013)

Zastoupil, Lynn, Rammohun Roy and the Making of Victorian Britain (Basingstoke, 2010).

Seminar Powerpoint

Powerpoint - Week 3

Seminar Handout

Handout - Week 3

Seminar Books

Chain Lines

Chain lines indicating laid paper from Halhed, A Code of Gentoo Laws (London, 1776)


Watermark on laid paper from Halhed, A Code of Gentoo Laws (London, 1776)

Wood pulp and linen paper

Comparison of paper made from linen rags (top) and wood pulp (bottom). Top is eighteenth-century book (Halhed, A Code of Gentoo Laws, 1776), bottom is twentieth-century book (Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1901 edition)