- Global Entanglements of a Man Who Never Travelled: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Christian and His Conflicted Worlds by Dominic Sachsenmaier
Scholars in recent years have begun to more closely analyze how local events and persons have been influenced by the vicissitudes of global interconnections. As Dominic Sachsenmaier puts it: "Great interconnections affected not only travelers but also the vast majority of people living sedentary lives" (p. 153). In this welcome new contribution to the study of "global entanglements," Sachsenmaier underscores how Sino-Western religious [End Page 238] exchange during the Ming 明-Qing 清 political crises of the early seventeenth century can be better understood through the life and writings of the relatively "inconsequential" Chinese Roman Catholic literatus convert, Zhu Zongyuan 朱宗元 (c. 1616–1660), also known by his baptismal name Cosmos Zhu. This careful study of Zhu's published works and historical context illustrates that even though Zhu did not travel beyond the small scope of his native region, with the single exception of one excursion to Hangzhou 杭州, the global mission and network of communication of the Jesuit order facilitated the "transcontinental transfer of ideas, goods, and germs" in the modest trading city of Ningbo 寧波 (p. 153). This monograph study of Zhu Zongyuan's life adds to the growing number of works that highlight the voices of Chinese Christians rather than what has historically been predominant: studies on either the Europeans who lived in China, or the controversies between Catholic orders and congregations over the conundrums of religious terms and rites.
Relying upon an array of Chinese and Western language sources, chapter 1 locates Zhu Zongyuan's life and works within their local and global contexts. In this section, Sachsenmaier sketches the "epochal crisis" China faced during the collapse of the Ming and the effectual rise of Manchu rule over the Celestial Empire. Zhu's advantaged status as a juren 舉人 degree holder uniquely prepared him to serve the Jesuit fathers as an educated advocate for the missionary enterprise. Reading this chapter, one is mindful that sharing the same Chinese surname as the former Ming ruling clan, Zhu 朱, certainly complicated his standing with the new rulers; the famous painter, Zhu Da 朱耷 (1626–1705), who lived during the same time as Cosmos Zhu, adopted a pseudonym, Bada Shanren 八大山人, and entered religious life as a Buddhist monk to obscure his identity as a member of the imperial clan and to better protect himself from Manchu scrutiny. Zhu Zongyuan, as Sachsenmaier puts it, "probably belonged to the large section of Ningbo's upper classes who supported the Qing" (p. 35), and thus he was allowed to retain a high profile in the emergent Qing dynasty as a Confucian intellectual and a Christian. Chapter 2 provides excellent descriptions of Zhu Zongyuan's publication legacy, while also explaining how, due to his membership in the global Catholic Church, he dwelled within a religious and intellectual domain that represented "complex encounters between global and local forces" (p. 62).
Chapter 3 outlines how the contested intellectual and religious landscapes of Confucianism and Christianity intersected as two large power systems, the canonical Confucianism of the Chinese state and the doctrinal claims of the Catholic Church, each already laden with internal struggles over orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Cosmos Zhu's task in this matrix of global encounter and exchange was to urge that "Christianity alone was able to show the proper way to understand the content of the [Confucian] classics" (p. 97). This, Sachsenmaier suggests, helped lead to what scholars now call the "Confucian-Christian synthesis" that defined late-imperial Sino-missionary exchange in China. Zhu's intellectual strategies, as a Chinese Confucian and Christian, for accepting the foreign origins of his identity as a Roman Catholic are discussed in chapter 4. In this analysis, Cosmos Zhu is shown to have mediated between China, as "Middle," and Christianity, as "foreign," in ways that sought to "render the definition of China less fixed and more inclusive" (p. 110). In order...