Abstract

This paper discusses the religious meaning of Jesuit world maps that were produced in China by their missionaries from the late sixteenth to the seventeenth centuries. These world maps serve as a visual proof to emphasize the greatness of the world and the minuscule nature of man, and by means of these maps man "can see" the truth of God because of the visual ability granted via God's omnipotence. Jesuit cartography is not only a visual image of geographical configuration. It paved the way for the comprehension of the Creator's significance. It was an embodiment of the Renaissance tradition of cartography as the graphical representation of the universe, which included the idea of understanding nature through mathematical science as well as of understanding Heaven by visualization and sensibility. In this Renaissance tradition, geography was associated with cosmology that was based upon Christian theology, and Aristotle's sensibility toward the comprehension of the universe formed the core of Catholic epistemology and natural philosophy. The religious implications of Jesuit cartography in China explain how the Jesuits could have used it strategically in their evangelization.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 517-552
Launched on MUSE
2007-08-21
Open Access
No
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