Jesus and Pocahontas: Gospel, Mission, and National Myth

By Howard A. Snyder

A re-examination of the Pocahontas story, probing self-serving myths to reveal a complex tale that sheds light on the interplay between mission and culture.

ISBN: 9780718894191


In Jesus and Pocahontas, Howard A. Snyder presents an alternative approach to the traditional story of the success of Christian settlement and mission in Jamestown, Virginia. This alternative approach presents an account of the life and conversion of Pocahontas which is respectful both of the early Jamestown and Native American accounts. Snyder presents a more complex story than the simple Pilgrim versus Native American theme popularised by past novels. Here, characters who are described are as unpredictable as they are predictable, and this account challenges not only the myth of Pocahontas itself but also its impact on historical, theological and missional narratives from the time of the first Jamestown settlements. Jesus and Pocahontas recounts the life of Pocahontas from her first sighting of English colonists when she was around ten years old, through her love affair with and marriage to John Rolfe and her conversion to the Christian faith and life in England . Woven into each part of this account are explanations of the many different ways in which this story influences our current perception of gospel, mission and nationhood.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 284
Illustrations b&w

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Howard A. Snyder is Visiting Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre in Manchester, England. He has served as a pastor and as a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary (1996-2006), Tyndale Seminary in Toronto (2007-2012), and elsewhere. His books include The Problem of Wineskins, The Radical Wesley, Models of the Kingdom, and Salvation Means Creation Healed (with Joel Scandrett).


Foreword by Randy Woodley
Personal Note


1. Little Princess Pocahontas?
2. Her Daddy’s Empire
3. Enter Pocahontas
4. John Smith, Powhatan, Pocahontas
5. The Starving Time
6. Kidnapped: Pocahontas Betrayed
7. True Love: Pocahontas and John Rolfe
8. Pocahontas Meets Jesus
9. John Rolfe, Tobacco Man
10. London Celebrity
11. Last Days of Pocahontas
12. Twisting the Gospel
13. Faces of Pocahontas: Justifying Myth
14. Faces of Pocahontas: Virgin Mother
15. Faces of Pocahontas: Disney Celebrity
16. The Long, Bitter Trail
17. Pocahontas in Heaven
18. Pocahontas Speaks
19. The Uses of Pocahontas and the Four Sins
20. Takeaways: What It All Means

Sources and Acknowledgements
General Index


Endorsements and Reviews

In this book, Howard Snyder has succeeded in showing how under the spell of ethnocentrism, Pocahontas (1596-1617) became a nationalistic American myth that goes back to the English colonists who arrived in Virginia and founded Jamestown in 1607. Beyond that however, he has succeeded in making of the Pocahontas story an insightful case study in the close interrelation that there is between the Christian mission and culture. I wholeheartedly recommend this book as a very good incentive to reflect on a subject that is oftentimes overlooked by people involved in missionary work.
C. René Padilla, President Emeritus, Kairos Foundation, Buenos Aires, Argentina