Abstract

The permeable boundaries of the major components of Chinese religion (Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism) and the relatively tolerant pluralism of the religious milieu are important factors in accounting for the religious acculturation of the Jewish community in the Chinese city of Kaifeng. A comparison of the acculturation of Chinese Jews with that of Muslims in Imperial China shows that, though the small size of the Jewish community and its lack of contact with other Jewish communities for a long period made it particularly susceptible to the influence of the Chinese milieu, this milieu was conducive to the acculturation of even a large minority. The unwillingness of the Catholic Church to compromise with the syncretistic milieu and its demand for an exclusive commitment from Chinese converts led to the expulsion of its missionaries. A comparison of Buddhism and Islam in China indicates that an important social structural basis for the long survival of the Kaifeng Jewish community was the combination of communal and congregational religion.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2028
Print ISSN
0021-6704
Pages
pp. 179-203
Launched on MUSE
2007-08-22
Open Access
No
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