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The Catholic Historical Review 88.2 (2002) 393-394
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China and Christianity:
Burdened Past, Hopeful Future
China and Christianity: Burdened Past, Hopeful Future. Edited by Stephen Uhalley, Jr., and Xioaxin Wu. (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe. 2001. Pp. xiii, 499. $79.95.)
This collection of essays is from a conference, by the same name, held at the University of San Francisco in honor of Edward J. Malatesta, S.J., in October, 1999. The essays cover a range of topics from Christianity as the universal teaching from the West and revelation in Confucian and Christian traditions to Hungarian missionaries to China in the twentieth century and church-state relations in Hong Kong after 1997. Several of the essays deal with the Jesuit missionaries in the late Ming-early Qing period including those by Erik Zurcher, John W. Witek, Han Qi, Robert Entenmann, Claudia von Collani, Paul A. Rule, Nicolas Standaert, and Li Tiangang. These essays cover such diverse topics as the image of Europe in China and its impact on the Chinese, cultural transmission, the question of whether heaven speaks, and the Rites Controversy in seventeenth-century Sichuan.
Zhang Kaiyuan's essay "Chinese Perspective-A Brief Review of the Historical Research on Christianity in China," divides Chinese scholars' work into three periods: before 1949, when he believes research on Catholic missionaries was better than that on the Protestants, from 1949 to 1976, when "Chinese-Western cultural communication was politicized" and research concentrated on anti-foreign works, and since 1978, when the serious study of world religions has again attracted Chinese interest with more than 1000 papers and 100 monographs on Christianity being produced in the last two decades, and interest in [End Page 393] China's Christian colleges has grown markedly. He notes there has been little co-operation between Chinese and Western scholars on these topics and believes the work is still at "the starting line."
Jessie G. Lutz provides a brief overview of the history of Protestant missionary work in China and the early efforts at indigenization. Two essays deal with the question of Chinese folk religion and its relationship to Christianity. Ryan Dunch's contribution on the contemporary Protestant church sees the emergence of evangelists, often with little formal education, as the reason why so many sects, some of them considered heretical by both mainstream churches and the government, have appeared in recent years. Richard P. Madsen views present-day Catholicism as a folk religion due to the emphasis many Chinese give to its miraculous and apocalyptic aspects.
Two essays presented here offer new aspects of mission studies in English. Dina V. Doubrovskaia writes on the Russian Orthodox Christians in China beginning with the Albazinians who were taken to Beijing in the late seventeenth century as "guests" of the Kangxi Emperor. Supported later by Peter the Great, the Russian Christians played an important part in Qing-Russian relations, particularly in the negotiation of treaties between the two countries. Peter Vamos' essay deals with the Hungarian Jesuits who went to China in the early twentieth century and their desire to be recognized as an independent mission by Rome, as well as the work of other Hungarian orders. The forty-four Hungarian Protestant missionaries in the twentieth century were members either of the China Inland Mission or one of the German-speaking mission societies.
Present-day relations between the Catholic Church and the government in Hong Kong, and the state of Christianity in Taiwan are the subjects of essays by Beatrice Leung and Peter Chien-main Wang. Leung argues that as Hong Kong's political status changes the Catholics in the city are in a difficult position because of their long involvement in English-based education and the new government's insistence on education in the mother tongue and because Hong Kong Catholics have long viewed themselves as a bridge between Chinese Catholics and the larger church, a role the government no longer seems to agree with. Wang notes the long relationship between the Presbyterian church in Taiwan and indigenous political movements, which stems partly from...