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«AMERICAN BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR FOREIGN MISSIONS (ABCFM) AND “NOMINAL CHRISTIANS”: ELIAS RIGGS (1810-1901) AND AMERICAN MISSIONARY ACTIVITIES ...»

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AMERICAN BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR FOREIGN MISSIONS (ABCFM)

AND “NOMINAL CHRISTIANS”: ELIAS RIGGS (1810-1901) AND AMERICAN

MISSIONARY ACTIVITIES IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

by

Mehmet Ali Dogan

A dissertation submitted to the faculty of

The University of Utah

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

in

Middle East Studies/History

Department of Languages and Literature The University of Utah May 2013 Copyright © Mehmet Ali Dogan 2013 All Rights Reserved Th e U n i v e r s i t y o f U t a h G r a d u a t e S c h o o l

STATEMENT OF DISSERTATION APPROVAL

The dissertation of Mehmet Ali Dogan

has been approved by the following supervisory committee members:

Chair 4/9/2010 Peter Sluglett Date Approved Member 4/9/2010 Peter von Sivers Date Approved Member 4/9/2010 Roberta M icallef Date Approved Member M. Hakan Yavuz 4/9/2010 Date Approved Member Heather Sharkey 4/9/2010 Date Approved Chair of and by Johanna Watzinger-Tharp the Department of Middle East Center and by Donna M. White, Interim Dean of The Graduate School.

ABSTRACT In this dissertation, I investigate the missionary activities of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in the Ottoman Empire. I am particularly interested in exploring the impact of the activities of one of the most important missionaries, Elias Riggs, on the minorities in the Ottoman Empire throughout the nineteenth century. By analyzing thesignificance of his missionary work and the fruits of his intellectual and linguistic ability, we can better understand the efforts of the ABCFM missionaries to seek converts to the Protestant faith in the Ottoman Empire. I focus mainly on the period that began with Riggs’ sailing from Boston to Athens in 1832 as a missionary of the ABCFM until his death in Istanbul on January 17, 1901.

Elias Riggs was one of the most influential missionaries in the Ottoman Empire throughout the nineteenth century, and his life was associated with a period of significant change in the Ottoman Empire and the modern history of missionaries in the Middle East.

He was instrumental in the ABCFM’s decision to develop a Protestant publishing enterprise for the peoples in the region. In addition to his editorship of religious periodicals, he published a variety of books for the mission. He was a member of the translation committee for the Turkish Bible and he worked several years on translating the Bible into Armenian and Bulgarian. He had an exceptionally long career and worked

–  –  –

ABSTRACT

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

INTRODUCTION

Archives and Review of Literature

Chapter Overview

Chapters

1 FROM NEW ENGLAND INTO NEW LANDS: THE BEGINNING OF A

LONG STORY

The Second Great Awakening

The First Missionaries

To the Holy Land: From New England to Jerusalem

2 SETTLING IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE: MIS SIONARY TOURS AND

EXPLORATIONS

The Construction Years of the American Missionary Establishment.................42 American Missionaries among the Armenians

3 FROM NEW JERSEY TO GREECE: RIGGS’ ARRIVAL

The Making of a Missionary

Riggs’ Missionary Activities in Greece

4 “RESTORATION” OF THE “NOMINAL” CHRISTIANS IN THE TANZIMAT ERA

The Tanzimat Era and the Missionaries

Elias Riggs’ Activities in Izmir

5 “ASIA MINOR” AS A MISSIONARY FIELD: MISSIONARY NETWORK

AND ELIAS RIGGS

Protestant Millet

Riggs’ First Years in Istanbul

Some Remarks on the Activities of the ABCFM in the 1860s

6 ELIAS RIGGS: “INVALUABLE IN ALL DEPARTMENTS”

Elias Riggs and the European Turkey Mission

Riggs’ Literary Effects in the Region

CONCLUSION

The Ottoman Reaction

Elias R iggs

APPENDICES A: THE RIGGS FAM ILY

B: EXAMPLES FROM THE OTTOMAN ARCHIVES

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

–  –  –

I would like to express my gratitude to all the members of my committee for all their help and guidance. I am grateful to my supervisor, Professor Peter Sluglett, for his patience and understanding in every stage of my dissertation. I feel it was a privilige to be a graduate student at the University of Utah and I thank all the professors and staff of the

–  –  –

In this dissertation, I investigate the missionary activities of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in the Ottoman Empire. I am particularly interested in exploring the impact of the activities of one of the most important missionaries, Elias Riggs, on the minorities in the Ottoman Empire throughout the nineteenth century. By analyzing the significance of his missionary work and the fruits of his intellectual and linguistic ability, we can better understand the efforts of the ABCFM missionaries to seek converts to the Protestant faith in the Ottoman Empire. I focus mainly on the period that began with Riggs’ sailing from Boston to Athens in 1832 as a missionary of the ABCFM until his death in Istanbul on January 17, 1901. I concentrate particularly on the effects of his publishing activities among the minorities in the Ottoman Empire.





The place of Elias Riggs in the missionary activities during the nineteenth century makes a fascinating story. He had an exceptionally long career and worked in many parts of the region. The first ABCFM school in Greece was opened by Elias and Martha Riggs in Argos in 1834. Riggs was based in Athens, 1832-34; in Argos, 1834-38; in Izmir 1838­ 53; and in Istanbul, 1853-1901. Riggs was associated with William Goodell, Cyrus Hamlin, William Schauffler, and Henry Otis Dwight, missionaries who had arrived in Istanbul in the 1830s. During his only return visit to the United States, in 1856-1858, he taught Hebrew at Union Theological Seminary, but he declined an offer of the chair of Hebrew at the same college, preferring to return to the mission field in the Middle East.

He spent the winter of 1862-63 in Egypt, from where he returned to Istanbul by way of the mission stations in Anatolia. During his years in Istanbul, he taught in mission schools; edited magazines; published tracts, hymns, and books; visited the missionary stations in neighboring cities; and preached frequently in mission churches. After the publication of his Bulgarian Bible in 1871, he joined a committee working on a standard Turkish Bible, published in 1878. From 1885 to 1888, he lived in Antep (Gaziantep) in Southeastern Anatolia, returning to Istanbul after his wife’s death. For the next few years, he focused on the missionary activities of the European Turkey Mission. Riggs died in Istanbul on January 17, 1901, and is buried in Ferikoy Protestant Cemetery.

Elias Riggs was one of the most influential missionaries in the Ottoman Empire throughout the nineteenth century, and his life was associated with a period of significant change in the Ottoman Empire and the modern history of missionaries in the Middle East.

He was instrumental in the ABCFM’s decision to develop a Protestant publishing enterprise for the peoples in the region. In addition to his editorship of two religious periodicals (Avedaper, in Armenian, and Zornitza, in Bulgarian), he published a variety of books for the missions in the Ottoman Empire. He was a member of the translation committee for the Turkish Bible and he worked several years on translating the Bible into Armenian and Bulgarian.

The missionaries of the ABCFM arrived in the Ottoman Empire during a period of great flux. Greek nationalists were agitating for independence, and the Ottoman authorities were beginning to contemplate and implement a European-style reform programme in order to strengthen the central authority in the Empire. Changes were also occurring within the non-Muslim religious minority communities of the Empire who were organized into a few broad millets, including the Greek Orthodox, the Gregorian Armenians, and the Jews. After the reform policies of Sultan Selim III (1789-1807) and Sultan Mahmut II (1808-1839), the efforts to modernize and reorganize the state apparatus continued in the Ottoman Empire under a period known as the Tanzimat (reorganization) (1839-1876), and later during the era of Abdulhamit II (1876-1909).1 My research raised new questions with regard to the characteristics of the ABCFM’s missionary activities during the reform period of the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire and the role of Elias Riggs: How did this long history of the American missionaries in the foreign lands begin? What were the outcomes of the Westernized and modernized educational influence of the ABCFM in the Middle East? What were the effects of Riggs’ publishing activities among the minorities in the Ottoman Empire? How and why was Elias Riggs an important figure in the publications of the ABCFM? What was the discussion between the ABCFM missionaries about the methodology and the question of how to approach the Eastern Churches and their followers? How did the Tanzimat period and the creation of the Protestant millet affect American missionary activities in Anatolia and the Balkans?

Many Christian missionary organizations in the United States and Western Europe considered the Ottoman Empire a promising field for their missionary activities.

Missionary societies of various sizes and different denominations from almost all Western countries sent missionaries to the Ottoman Empire throughout the nineteenth and 1 For more discussion on the Tanzimat era, see Chapter 4; and for millets, see Chapter 5.

early twentieth centuries. While Catholic missionary activities had started in the Ottoman territories as early as the sixteenth century, the more organized American and European missionary endeavors which began in the nineteenth century aimed both to bring Christianity to the peoples of the Ottoman Empire and to revitalize Eastern Christianity.

Of course, missionaries to the Ottoman Empire were also attracted to the Holy Land. It soon became clear that there was little point in attempting to proselytize among the Muslims because it was forbidden by the imperial authorities and hence, the mass conversion of the Muslim population in the Empire to Christianity was not possible.

Therefore, the Western missionaries concentrated primarily on the many Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire, including Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Jacobites, Nestorians, Chaldeans, Copts, Maronites, and Jews.

When the American missionaries arrived at the Ottoman Empire, there were already other missionaries working in the field. The Catholic Church had always been interested in the Eastern Christians, and Catholic missionaries had long been attempting to bring them into communion with Rome. In 1622, the Papacy created the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide) in order to centralize Catholic missionary activities. Protected by various European powers, particularly France, several Catholic orders and congregations, including the Capuchins, Franciscans, Carmelites, Dominicans, Augustinians, and Jesuits, worked in the provinces of the Ottoman Empire. They established schools and hospitals mainly for the Eastern Christians, but, before the nineteenth century, their schools were often of no better quality than the local schools.



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