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Confucianism and Christianity

The First Encounter

John D. Young

Publication Year: 1983

The book centres around a major theme: the first 'confrontation' between the Supreme Ultimate (or T'ien) of the Confucian cosmological order and the Christian anthropomorphic God as conveyed to the Chinese literati by the Western missionaries.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

This book centres around a major theme: the first ‘confrontation' between the Supreme Ultimate (T'ai-chi) of the Confucian cosmological order and the Christain anthropomorphic God as conveyed to the Chinese by the Jesuit missionaries. This encounter, which is of a historical as well as metaphysical nature, also involves a conflict between two diametrically opposed value systems of human socio-ethical ...

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The Cross-Cultural Perspective

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pp. 1-8

Marco Polo (1254-1324) is actually a rather poor source for studying the Yüan dynasty. True , he lived in China for almost two decades, worked for the Mongol court, and perhaps even had a Chinese family. But more often than not, Polo's reports on the land of Cathay were hyperbolic and written in a metaphorical style. He described Hangchou as a city of ‘twelve thousand bridges of stone , for the most ...

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I. The Policy of Accommodation

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pp. 9-24

When the men of the Renaissance ventured beyond the sea frontiers of Europe, they hardly realized that their explorations would lead to unprecedented changes in human civilization. In our century, no longer is one society able to stand by itself. The realization and consciousness of other cultures have made man aware of the difficulties involved in living with people of other countries. 1 Be it in political , social or ...

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II. Matteo Ricci's ‘Original Confucianism'

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pp. 25-40

Matteo Ricci was born on 6 October 1552 in Macerata, Italy.1 His family belonged to the nobility of the city, and his father, a pharmacist, had held civil office in the Papal States and elsewhere. At the age of nine Ricci was enrolled in a Jesuit college. He joined the Society of Jesus after leaving the college, and in 1573 entered the Collegio Romano in Rome, where he spent years studying philosophy and ...

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III. Hsü Kuang-ch'i's Conversion

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pp. 41-58

Political chaos and intellectual dynamism went hand in hand during the late Ming period. In spite of administrative corruption , eunuch intrigues and Manchu disturbances, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were one of the most vigorous periods in the history of Chinese thought. The T'ai-chou school's ideal of ‘the streets full of sages' was the quixotic banner of such thinkers as Wang Ken (1483一1540) ...

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IV. The First Anti-Christian Incident

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pp. 59-76

The Chinese response to the Jesuit message took many forms. In 1616, only six years after Ricci's death, China experienced its first anti-Christian movement. Shen Ch'ueh (d.1624), Vice-President of the Nanking Board of Rites, wrote three memorials to the throne, denouncing the Jesuits and requesting their expulsion. 1 What resulted was a short-lived, systematic effort by the Chinese court to wipe out ...

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V. Yang Kuang-hsien's Attack

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pp. 77-96

Historians of Sino-Western relations, when writing on the intellectual outlook inherited by the anti-Christian literati of the nineteenth century, often mention a fiery figure named Yang Kuang-hsien who made the strongest attack upon the Jesuits of the early Ch'ing period. 1 It has often been assumed that Yang Kuang-hsien had in some way shaped the Chinese literati's attitude towards the West in the succeeding ...

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VI. In Defense of 'Christianity' in 'China'

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pp. 97-109

St. Francis Xavier's observation that science was a necessary component of the Jesuit accommodation policy proved well-founded. The Jesuit expertise in astronomy not only helped them to establish their mission in China, but also saved them in a time of crisis. If Yang Kuang-hsien had been a more capable astronomer, the total Jesuit effort would have failed in 1669. As illustrated by Yang Kuang-hsien's ...

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VII. The K'ang-hsi Emperor and Christianity

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pp. 109-124

The second phase of Jesuit activity in China began in 1669, when Yang Kuanghsien was sent into exile and Ferdinand Verbiest gained the directorship of the Imperial Astronomical Bureau. At least temporarily, the Jesuit controversy with the Neo-Confucianists seemed to have been concluded in the Jesuits' favour. In 1692, the K'ang-hsi Emperor officially sanctioned a place for Christianity in the Chinese ...

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Towards an East-West Dialogue

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pp. 125-128

In spite of his skepticism, the K'ang-hsi Emperor continued to allow the Jesuit missionaries to reside in China, but in this his influence was short-lived. A year after his death in 1722, his successor put an end to Christian activity in China. This time , the new emperor's religious persuasion seemed to lean towards the side of Shen Ch'ueh , Yang Kuang-hsien and other anti-Christian Neo-Confucian scholars. In ...


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pp. 129-148


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pp. 149-166


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pp. 167-176


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pp. 177-182

E-ISBN-13: 9789882200852
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622090378

Page Count: 196
Publication Year: 1983