Handbook of Christianity in China - Vol. 1

Handbook of Christianity in China - Vol. 1

Handbook of Christianity in China - Vol. 1

Handbook of Christianity in China - Vol. 1

Synopsis

Who were the main actors in propagating Christianity in China? Where did Christian communities settle? What discussions were held in China, concerning Christianity? These, and many other, questions are answered in this reference work, which is divided in a systematic part and analytical articles. This handbook represents a true reference guide to the reception of Christianity in pre-1800 China. It presents to the reader, in comprehensive fashion, all current knowledge of Christianity in China, and guides him through the main Chinese and Western sources, bibliographies and archives. The scope of the volume is broad and covers a wide range of topics, such as theology, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, cannon, botany, art, music, and more.

Excerpt

As a reference work, this Handbook comprehensively presents the current knowledge on Christianity in China before 1800. It guides the reader to primary and secondary sources, introduces different thematic subjects in a comprehensive manner, and presents summaries of debated issues. The Handbook is written for those who are already engaged in scholarly research on this subject as well as for those who seek to engage themselves in such research.

Paradigm shift

An important incentive for compiling a Handbook of Christianity in China is the fact that in the second half of the twentieth century a significant paradigm shift has taken place in the study of late Ming and early Qing Christianity. In general, one may describe this shift as a change from a mainly missiological and Europecentred to a sinological and China-centred approach. The paradigm shift has not only involved a change in methodology and in the background of researchers, but also in the type of research subjects. Until the early 1960s, researchers were mainly concerned with the question: “How did the missionaries introduce and present Christianity in China?” Often being members of a missionary congregation, researchers were interested in the overall success of the missionaries and primarily used texts in Western languages (letters, reports, travelogues). Accordingly research was not devoid of apologetic purposes: e.g. defending the position that one's order or congregation took in the Rites Controversy. While these studies have laid a good foundation for the study of Christianity in China, other researchers, often well trained in Chinese studies, began to pose the question of reception: “How did the Chinese react, positively or negatively, to the introduction of Christianity and other aspects of Western culture?” In this research Chinese texts have become primary sources, because these texts, rather than missionary reports, are the sources to be studied for the actual reception of Christianity in China.

The paradigm shift that has taken place justifies the compilation and publication of a Handbook which provides a “state of . . .

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