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The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom

Rebellion and the Blasphemy of Empire

by Thomas H. Reilly

Publication Year: 2004

Occupying much of Imperial China’s Yangzi River heartland and costing over twenty million lives, the Taiping Rebellion (1851–1864) was no ordinary peasant revolt. What most distinguished this dramatic upheaval from earlier rebellions was the Taiping faith of the rebels. Inspired by a Protestant missionary tract, the core of the Taiping faith focused on the belief that Shangdi, the high God of classical China, had chosen the Taiping leader, Hong Xiuquan, to establish his Heavenly Kingdom on Earth.

Published by: University of Washington Press

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pp. ix-xi

This book has been a long time in the making, and the people who have contributed to its completion constitute an extensive list. I would like to acknowledge those contributions here. ...

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pp. 3-18

The subject of this study is the Taiping Rebellion, a nineteenth-century Chinese uprising, and the religious creed that animated it.Over the thirteen-year course of the insurrection, from 1851 to 1864, twenty million people lost their lives, and Qing imperial and Taiping rebel armies fought in and over almost every province of the Chinese empire. ...

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1. The Early Catholic Search for the Name of God

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pp. 19-53

The history of the faith that inspired the Taiping must begin with the work of Matteo Ricci and the early Jesuit missionaries to China. Their contribution is rightly called seminal, for it was the Jesuits who initiated the approach that proved so influential with Hong Xiuquan and the Taiping movement: they identified Christianity with the classical ...

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2. The Protestant Bible and the Birth of the Taiping Christian Movement

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pp. 54-77

Catholic Christianity, for all its long history in China, did not set the spark to the Taiping Rebellion. Chinese gentry and officials during the rebellion attempted to trace the fuse of the rebellion back to the Heavenly Lord sect, but that fuse was laid and lit by Protestant Christians. ...

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3. The Taiping Challenge to Empire

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pp. 78-116

Foreign Protestant missionaries and native Chinese evangelists carried the seed of their Chinese-language religious literature into the fertile sectarian soils of inland Guangdong and Guangxi, sowing its message among the poor and the dispossessed. That seed took root in the heart of Hong Xiuquan.The future Taiping king translated this translated ...

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4. Worship and Witness in the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom

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pp. 117-149

The doctrines and teachings of the Taiping shaped their beliefs about the illegitimacy of empire. These same doctrines led them to attack the imperial office and to break down the walls of the empire, establishing in its place the Heavenly Kingdom. A singular inadequacy in the many interpretations of Taiping religion is that they focus ...

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5. The Taiping Legacy and Missionary Christianity

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pp. 150-171

After the fall of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in 1864, the victorious Qing imperial government moved quickly to efface all memory of the Taiping and their challenge to empire. Only one aspect of the Taiping legacy survived, and that was its connections to missionary Christianity.Yet it would not be the Protestants who would suffer ...


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pp. 173-208


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pp. 209-211


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pp. 213-223


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pp. 225-235

E-ISBN-13: 9780295801926
E-ISBN-10: 0295801921
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295984308
Print-ISBN-10: 0295984309

Publication Year: 2004