Hidden Treasures and Intercultural Encounters: Studies on East Syriac Christianity in China and Central Asia

Article excerpt

Asian Hidden Treasures and Intercultural Encounters: Studies on East Syriac Christianity in China and Central Asia. Edited by Die tmar W.Winkler and Li Tang. [Orientalia - patristica - oecumenica,Vol. 1.] (Münster- Vienna: Lit Verlag. 2009. Pp. iv, 395. euro39,90 paperback. ISBN 978-3-643-50045-8.)

In the last twenty years, research on the commonly mistermed "Nestorian" Christianity in central and eastern Asia has grown in Eastern and Western academic circles. New publications have resulted in a new approach that is based more on sources and a broader philological foundation, which can be truly regarded as a turning point in the history of research on East Syrian Christianity in Asia.

The volume under review is the outcome of the second conference on "Research on the Church of the East in China and Central Asia" in 2006. It contains papers written by scholars from disciplines such as church history, philology (Syriac, Turkic, Iranic, and Chinese), archaeology, and theology. It explores the subject of East Syrian Christianity from various perspectives.

The volume is organized in four parts. The first part, on "Inscriptions" (pp. 13-132), contains current research on texts carved in stone from various geographical areas (Central Asia, Inner Mongolia, China). Particularly relevant in this section are essays on Syriac and Syro-Turkic inscriptions by Mark Dickens, Wassilio s Klein, Kuvatbek Tabaldiev, Li Chonglin, and Niu Ruji.They give the original text, transliteration, translation, and a commentary of Christian gravestones found in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzistan, Inner Mongolia, and Xinjiang (China), all dating from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Also worth mentioning is Li Tang's preliminary study (text analysis, commentary, and translation) on the Chinese Christian inscription found in Luoyang in 2006 and dating from the ninth century.

The second part deals briefly with "Manuscripts and Texts" (pp. 135-80). Among the three articles in this section, Max Deeg's provocative essay invites scholars to consider the proper and improper ways to proceed in placing in their context the Chinese Christian documents of the Tang period (618-907).

The third part, on "History" (pp. …