Popular Religious Movements and Heterodox Sects in Chinese History

Popular Religious Movements and Heterodox Sects in Chinese History

Popular Religious Movements and Heterodox Sects in Chinese History

Popular Religious Movements and Heterodox Sects in Chinese History

Synopsis

This groundbreaking book surveys the entire history of popular religious sects in Chinese history. Publish this Book! is the unequivocal recommendation taken from the peer reviews. In part one the reader will find a thorough treatment of the formation of the notions of orthodoxy and heterodoxy in the contexts of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. Chronologically organized, the work continues to deal with each new religious movement; its teachings, scriptures, social organisation, and political significance. The discussions on the patterns laid bare and on the dynamics of popular religious movements in Chinese society, make this book indispensable for all those who wish to gain a true understanding of the mechanics of Popular religious movements in historical and contemporary China.

Excerpt

Plans for writing this book sprang up more than ten years ago when a scholarship of the Volkswagen Foundation allowed me to do research in the First Historical Archives in Peking. During these months, Professor Ma Xisha of the Institute of World Religions at the Chinese Academy for the Social Sciences kindly offered me his help. I profited immensely from his stupendous familiarity with the documents of this archive and other sources on the history of popular sects in Ming and Qing China. During our conversations first plans were made for a joint publication. It was again the Volkswagen Foundation that made it possible for Ma Xisha to spent one year as a visiting scholar at the University of Hannover to continue our cooperation and prepare the publication of a monograph on Chinese popular religious sectarianism. During this time Ma Xisha wrote a substantial Chinese draft providing copious historical data to be complemented by the results of my own research. Had I been able to work continuously on this project and to finish it within the planned time, the result would have been a book coauthored by Ma Xisha and me.

Yet, events took another turn. Writing a book in English proved to be a heavy exercise for me that required much more time than I had anticipated, while teaching and other obligations left little room for writing during university terms. in 1992, when I had finished the first version of several chapters, Ma Xisha's and Han Bingfan's Zhongguo minjian zongjiao ski (History of Chinese Popular Religions) appeared, which contained most (and much more) of the historical information of Ma Xisha's draft. As this monumental publication of almost 1500 pages provides copious quotations from archival sources unknown to me before, I had to reconsider and revise my manuscript. in 1993 I received a call to the University of Leipzig. Moving with my family to this stimulating city in former East Germany, which at that time was in a rush of transformation, and to work at a time-honoured university undergoing complete restructuring was a fascinating but demanding experience. Writing, however, went slowly and first doubts came whether I would ever be able to finish this book within the next years. Then, in 1996, I was appointed expert member of an Enquête Commission of . . .

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