Texts, Interpretations, and Reception Histories in Chinese Christianity

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 7334

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Center for the Study of Religion and Chinese Society, Shanghai University, Shanghai 200444, China
Interests: history of Christianity in China (especially in Ming and Qing)

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Divinity School of Chung Chi College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Interests: history of Christianity in Modern China

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

According to Chen Yuan, the history of Chinese Christianity can be divided into four stages, namely, Jingjiao (景教)/the Church of the East in the Tang dynasty, Yeli kewen (the people who believed in Gospels) during the Yuan Dynasty, Catholicism during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and Protestantism in the late Qing dynasty. Different manifestations of Chinese Christianity during these four stages left behind voluminous texts in Chinese and other languages, which became the basis for the study of the history of Chinese Christianity. In this Special Issue of Religions, we aim to revisit the history of Chinese Christianity based on these texts, their interpretations, reception histories, indigenous influence and inter-developments with the historical communities who adopted, composed, adapted, or transmitted them. This includes a focus on indigenous Chinese Christian texts, whether proselytical, liturgical, literary, or doctrinal, etc., as well as Chinese-authored texts on the history of the Chinese Church, theological works and writings dealing with the reception of particular Christian theologies or denominational Christianity. Contributions may also cover reflections on, journeys of, and responses to such texts in Chinese Christian history, particularly from Chinese linguistic and cultural perspectives. In this sense, the proposed issue distinguishes itself from related upcoming Special Issues in Religions, whose focus in on a particular period in Chinese mission and local Christian histories and their historiographies (see here), or theology, interreligious dialogue, and biblical studies in distinct periods of Chinese-Christian encounters from antiquity to May 4th and contemporary China (see here). Our proposed concentration aims to filter out some of the core concepts within textual, reception, and hermeneutical histories of Chinese Christianities by employing methods of historical research, textual analysis, and sociological and anthropological approaches rather than reflecting theological concerns or isolating a certain historical period.

We are pleased to invite you to submit manuscripts to a Special Issue entitled “Texts, Interpretations, and Reception Histories in Chinese Christianity” to promote the research in this field.

This Special Issue aims to sort out the basic texts of the history of Chinese Christianity and their various interpretations, and to explore significant topics through the lens of cultural exchange and mutual appreciation of civilizations, such as publication, collection and circulation of books and other writings, core texts, terms and different interpretations, key concepts and their receptions and reactions, texts, and communities of Chinese Christians and other related topics are also welcomed. The basic methods of research will include textual analysis, as well as historical, philosophical, sociological, and anthropological approaches.

In this Special Issue, original research articles and reviews are welcome. Research areas may include (but not limited to) the following:

  1. The basic texts of the history of Chinese Christianity: composition, publication, collection, (re-)printing, circulation, and influences;
  2. The history of books and other writings of Chinese Christianity in Chinese and other languages;
  3. The core terms, concepts and ideas expressed in Chinese Christian texts and their different understandings, interpretations and responses in Chinese and Western societies;
  4. The relationship between texts and communities and their influences on the development of Chinese Christianity.
  5. The reception, reinvention, and transmission of Christian theology in Chinese Christian communities.
  6. Indigenous Chinese Christian literary works, Chinese Christian liturgy, including hymns and hymnals, doxologies, Christian devotional writings, sermon texts, transcripts of Christian testimonies
  7. Texts relating to Christian institutions and institutionalization

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Prof. Dr. Qinghe Xiao
Dr. Naomi Thurston
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • texts
  • interpretations
  • Chinese Christianity
  • core terms and concepts
  • theological reception
  • recep-tion history
  • hymns
  • Chinese Christian literature

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

19 pages, 375 KiB  
Article
The Reception History of The Seven Victories and the Localization of The Seven Victories Spiritual Cultivation
by Siyi Han, Chen Liu and Yaping Zhou
Religions 2024, 15(5), 575; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050575 - 1 May 2024
Viewed by 524
Abstract
The Seven Victories is one of the most influential works in Catholic literature from the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. The seven victories spiritual cultivation contained therein is the result of the localization of the practice of the Christian faith in the [...] Read more.
The Seven Victories is one of the most influential works in Catholic literature from the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. The seven victories spiritual cultivation contained therein is the result of the localization of the practice of the Christian faith in the West. It is still a living tradition in the Christian religion and even in Western culture. Since the end of the Ming Dynasty, The Seven Victories has aroused significant repercussions in the ecclesiastical and academic worlds. Some scholars converted to Catholicism because of The Seven Victories and wrote preambles in response to it; some scholars wrote essays criticizing the ethical ideas of The Seven Victories; and some scholars were inspired by The Seven Victories to write about Confucian ideas of sin, the work of reform, and the liturgy of repentance. Together, these constitute the history of the reception of The Seven Victories in China. Through Confucian culture integration, Chinese Christian scholars have developed a localized interpretation of the seven victories spiritual cultivation, resulting in a localized Chinese spiritual cultivation of sin. Full article
14 pages, 268 KiB  
Article
The Interpretation of Watchman Nee’s Anthropology and Its Corresponding Ecclesiastical Influence in Contemporary Chinese Mainland Churches
by Ruixiang Li and Paulos Huang
Religions 2024, 15(5), 570; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050570 - 30 Apr 2024
Viewed by 413
Abstract
Watchman Nee’s anthropology has been widely debated and polarized in academic fields. However, Watchman Nee’s concept of human and the problem of ecclesiastical practices have often been overlooked in contemporary Chinese mainland churches. In the first three sections, this paper will start from [...] Read more.
Watchman Nee’s anthropology has been widely debated and polarized in academic fields. However, Watchman Nee’s concept of human and the problem of ecclesiastical practices have often been overlooked in contemporary Chinese mainland churches. In the first three sections, this paper will start from different Chinese mainland denominations’ interpretation of Nee’s concept of human and their corresponding ecclesiastical practices. On the one hand, through the interpretive attitudes of different denominations toward the “concept of human” and their related ecclesiastical practices, we can see the situation of acceptance of Nee’s anthropology in different contemporary Chinese denominations. On the other hand, we can also provide feedback for the academic research on Nee’s anthropology from the reality of contemporary Chinese mainland churches. Then, this paper will make a comparison of anthropologies between Luther and Watchman Nee, referring to the current study of Martin Luther and the Third Enlightenment in China. The comparative study of these two men will not only open up new avenues for the study of their theologies but will also serve Chinese mainland churches by utilizing the results of the research on Nee’s thoughts and Martin Luther and the Third Enlightenment. Full article
22 pages, 459 KiB  
Article
The Prolonged Path of Indigenization: A Study on German Protestant Missionary Ernst Faber’s Chinese Literary Works
by Ruotong Shi and Hanyi Zhang
Religions 2024, 15(5), 563; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050563 - 30 Apr 2024
Viewed by 531
Abstract
Ernst Faber’s 34 years of literary missionary works reveal his commitment to refining his approach to indigenizing Christianity in China. Employing three linguistic and cultural adaptation strategies—translation and commentary of the Bible, examination and analysis of missionary practical outcomes in Western society, and [...] Read more.
Ernst Faber’s 34 years of literary missionary works reveal his commitment to refining his approach to indigenizing Christianity in China. Employing three linguistic and cultural adaptation strategies—translation and commentary of the Bible, examination and analysis of missionary practical outcomes in Western society, and the revision and reinterpretation of Chinese classics incorporating Christian insights—Faber adapted his methods gradually into China’s specific conditions, indicating a prolonged path of indigenization. Despite expressing appreciation for Chinese culture, a critical examination reveals the preservation of his cultural biases and an unwavering commitment to Christianity as a means of purifying and enriching the spirit of the Chinese people. Rooted in the political context of his time and confidence in European historical world missions, Faber’s indigenization strategy in his Chinese literary works represents an interplay of cultural adaptation and resistance. Full article
16 pages, 393 KiB  
Article
Accommodation Strategies in Education: Exploring Jesuit Textbook Publication in Modern Shanghai
by Wei Mo
Religions 2024, 15(4), 385; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15040385 - 22 Mar 2024
Viewed by 668
Abstract
This study examines the Jesuits’ significant contributions to China’s modernization through their involvement in textbook publication. It analyzes a recently discovered historical Catalogus of 1934 written in Latin to uncover insights. Specifically, it explores how the Jesuit T`ou-sè-wè Press in Shanghai responded to [...] Read more.
This study examines the Jesuits’ significant contributions to China’s modernization through their involvement in textbook publication. It analyzes a recently discovered historical Catalogus of 1934 written in Latin to uncover insights. Specifically, it explores how the Jesuit T`ou-sè-wè Press in Shanghai responded to changes in education, society, and the interplay of religious and political forces. By investigating the Jesuits’ strategic adaptations in their educational and cultural pursuits, revised compilation and publishing methods, and proactive engagement with the dynamic environment, this study aims to provide a deeper understanding of their approach. Additionally, it investigates the nuanced accommodation strategies employed by the T`ou-sè-wè Press to navigate the complex challenges of the era. Full article
23 pages, 9767 KiB  
Article
The Images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary in the Early Qing Collection of Taoist Immortal Stories
by Dadui Yao
Religions 2024, 15(3), 370; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030370 - 20 Mar 2024
Viewed by 944
Abstract
The book Lidai Shenxian Tongjian (The Comprehensive Mirror of Immortals Throughout the Dynasties), a compilation of Taoist narratives from the early Qing dynasty, contains a dedicated section on “The Life of Jesus,” accompanied by two images portraying Jesus and the Virgin [...] Read more.
The book Lidai Shenxian Tongjian (The Comprehensive Mirror of Immortals Throughout the Dynasties), a compilation of Taoist narratives from the early Qing dynasty, contains a dedicated section on “The Life of Jesus,” accompanied by two images portraying Jesus and the Virgin Mary. “The Life of Jesus” is believed to have originated from Gaspar Ferreira’s Nianzhu Guicheng (Rule for the Recitation of the Rosary) and Diego de Pantoja’s Tianzhu Yesu Shounan Shimo (The Passion of the Lord Jesus). The narratives and images of Christian content within Tongjian showcase the influence of Chinese Ming–Qing Taoist immortal stories and the indigenization of Christianity that resulted in a fusion of Chinese and Western cultural elements. Multiple versions of the accompanying images exist in different editions of Tongjian, indicating an evolution in the depictions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Through a comparative analysis of these images and their variations, we can glean valuable insights into the Qing dynasty editors’ reception of Western culture, shedding light on the process of localizing Christianity during the Ming–Qing period and emphasizing the significance of the cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Chinese and Western civilizations. Full article
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15 pages, 824 KiB  
Article
Pedro de la Piñuela’s Bencao Bu and the Cultural Exchanges between China and the West
by Junyang Ye
Religions 2024, 15(3), 343; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030343 - 12 Mar 2024
Viewed by 759
Abstract
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Catholic missionaries in China adopted the strategy of cultural accommodation and engaged in extensive interactions with Chinese literati and the general population in order to integrate into Chinese society. They left numerous writings in the Chinese language, [...] Read more.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Catholic missionaries in China adopted the strategy of cultural accommodation and engaged in extensive interactions with Chinese literati and the general population in order to integrate into Chinese society. They left numerous writings in the Chinese language, objectively promoting cultural exchanges between the East and the West. This article focuses on the pharmacological work Bencao Bu (本草補, Supplement to Chinese Materia Medica) by Spanish Franciscan Pedro de la Piñuela (石鐸琭, Shi Duolu, 1650–1704). The article argues that, in addition to questioning whether the works in Chinese left by missionaries have contributed to the progress of Chinese society in science, medicine, humanities and other aspects, we should also explore the process of encounter between two different cultures. Although Bencao Bu did not significantly advance Chinese medicine, la Piñuela incorporated elements of Chinese culture into the book and made an initial attempt to apply Chinese medical concepts in diagnosis and treatment. Furthermore, the book not only introduced certain Western scientific knowledge and pharmaceutical techniques but also could be considered the epitome of the global exchange of botanical knowledge and medical experiences, promoting mutual understanding between different parts of the world. This underscores the cultural significance beyond religious purposes found in Bencao Bu as well as other scientific and cultural works by missionaries during the Ming and Qing periods in China. Full article
16 pages, 970 KiB  
Article
The Parable of Wise and Foolish Builders in Yishen Lun and Rabbinic Literature
by David Tam
Religions 2024, 15(1), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15010107 - 15 Jan 2024
Viewed by 748
Abstract
The paper undertakes a comparative analysis of the parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders as presented in three distinct sources: the seventh-century Dunhuang manuscript Yishen Lun (Discourse on God), the sixth-century rabbinic text Avot D’Rabbi Nathan, and the Gospels (Matthew and [...] Read more.
The paper undertakes a comparative analysis of the parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders as presented in three distinct sources: the seventh-century Dunhuang manuscript Yishen Lun (Discourse on God), the sixth-century rabbinic text Avot D’Rabbi Nathan, and the Gospels (Matthew and Luke) of the Christian Bible. It explores the imagery used, piety taught, and worldviews conveyed in these renditions, concluding that the version in Yishen Lun shares a closer resemblance with the one in rabbinic literature than with the Gospels. This discovery, in conjunction with previously published findings by the author, challenges the conventional classification of Yishen Lun as an “Aluoben document” (or a Jingjiao document, for that matter), underscoring the need for further research and inquiry. Full article
23 pages, 991 KiB  
Article
Sessō Sōsai and the Chinese Anti-Christian Discourse
by Qiaoyu Han
Religions 2023, 14(8), 1058; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14081058 - 18 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1013
Abstract
The early Tokugawa period witnessed the establishment of anti-Christian policy as a significant agenda. In 1647, Sessō Sōsai, a Zen monk, undertook the task of delivering sermons in Nagasaki, aiming to convert the local population to Buddhism. Following his preaching, Sessō authored two [...] Read more.
The early Tokugawa period witnessed the establishment of anti-Christian policy as a significant agenda. In 1647, Sessō Sōsai, a Zen monk, undertook the task of delivering sermons in Nagasaki, aiming to convert the local population to Buddhism. Following his preaching, Sessō authored two anti-Christian texts, with the second text reflecting a pronounced influence from Chinese Buddhist anti-Christian discourse. This article seeks to explore the correlation between Sessō’s anti-Christian writings and his engagement with the Chinese Buddhist community in Nagasaki. By delving into the analysis of personal networks, this study illustrates Sessō’s familiarity with the evolution of Buddhism in China and his incorporation of ideas from the Chinese Buddhist anti-Christian movement during his time. Full article
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