'Die Missionen in die Türkei'. In: 'Allgemeiner Missions-Atlas', 1867

This map depicts the Near East, with an emphasis on missions to the Ottoman Empire and surrounding areas in the 1860s. Greece, independent since 1822, is shown in light green, the Russian borders in dark green, Persia in purple and the Ottoman Empire in pink. Names of places where missionary organizations operate are underlined in color, especially American, British, and German. Four inset maps show missionary activity in the Bosporus region, Constantinople, Jerusalem and the immediate vicinity of the Anglican Christ Church in Jerusalem. It is remarkable how strongly the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) is represented, the oldest American missionary organization. Also noteworthy is the wide variety of missionary organizations in Palestine.

Go to the digital version

It was a relatively tranquil period in Ottoman history, during which the Tanzimath reforms achieved political openness and Christians in the Ottoman Empire in particular developed rapidly, opening schools and gaining more influence in the sultan's attempt to soften foreign influences. Yet there was also more openness to missionary organizations: in 1849 the first Protestant church was founded in the Near East, the Christ Church shown in the inset map.

The map was published in the General Missionary Atlas by Reinhold Grundemann (1836-1924), which was published between 1867 and 1871 in four volumes (20 maps of Africa, 29 maps of Asia, 12 maps of Polynesia and 11 maps of America). In the preface Grundemann wrote:

‘No matter how many mission reports one reads on such missions, the impressions they give do not linger in our memory, because we have not, as it were, made a pattern through our knowledge of the different locations they deal with, where we can absorb and collect the impressions’.

His atlas, he says, shows what is possible ‘When geography and mission go hand in hand.’

Grundemann was a prolific theologian who brought about the professionalization of missionary cartography. He produced a number of high-quality missionary atlases, especially in comparison with the earlier, sometimes simple maps. Grundemann had studied theology in Tübingen, Halle, and Berlin, and became a minister in 1861. His interest in missions and cartography led him to undertake missionary and study trips, where he collected material for the General Missionary Atlas, which is divided into four volumes. appeared between 1867 and 1871. A smaller version, the Minor Missionary Atlas to present the evangelical missionary work according to its current state, appeared in 1886, and a revised atlas, the New Missionary Atlas, in 1896. Typical of Grundemann was the more scientific approach and precision of his maps. Where earlier maps, for example, only marked ‘heathen’ territory, Grundemann distinguished eight variants of natural religions in an exceptionally beautiful mission world map.