Special Issue "Christian Literature in Chinese Contexts"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2019).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. John T. P. Lai
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong; Hong Kong
Interests: interdisciplinary study of religion and literature; translation of religious texts; Chinese Christian literature; reception of the Bible in Chinese contexts

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Christianity in China has a history dating back to the period of the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE), when Allopen, the first Nestorian missionary, arrived there in 635. In the late sixteenth century, Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) together with other Jesuit missionaries commenced the Catholic missions to China. Protestant Christianity in China began with Robert Morrison (1782–1834), of London Missionary Society, who first set foot in Canton in 1807. Over the centuries, the Western missionaries and Chinese believers were engaged in the enterprise of the translation, publication, and distribution of a large corpus of Christian literature in Chinese. Apart from the direct reading of the Chinese translations of the Bible, the biblical stories and messages were more widely received among the Chinese audiences in a variety of modes, including hearing biblical stories paraphrased or recapitulated in sermons, singing of hymns and making use of liturgical texts, reciting catechisms and trimetrical primers, consulting Bible dictionaries and commentaries, reading or hearing the Christian novels read aloud, among others. While the extensive distribution of Chinese publications facilitated the propagation of Christianity, the Christian messages have been subtly re-presented, re-appropriated, and transformed by these works of Chinese Christian literature.

This Special Issue themed “Christian Literature in Chinese Contexts” invites academic articles to examine the multifarious dimensions of the production, translation, circulation, and reception of Christian literature (with “Christian” and “literature” in their broadest sense) against the cultural and socio-political contexts from the Tang period to modern China. Recommended topics may include the literary/translation endeavors of Western missionaries in Chinese; the indigenous works of the Chinese Christians; the interaction between the Christian and Chinese literary genres/traditions; Chinese people’s reception of the Christian literature, and so forth.

Prof. Dr. John T. P. Lai
Guest Editor

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 papers will be 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 1200 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

  • Chinese Christian literature
  • Bible translation in Chinese
  • reception of the Bible
  • religion and literature
  • Christianity in China

Published Papers (8 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Open AccessArticle
Sheng Ren in the Figurists’ Reinterpretation of the Yijing
Religions 2019, 10(10), 553; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100553 - 26 Sep 2019
Viewed by 507
Abstract
Christian missions to China have sought to make their message more acceptable to their Chinese audience by expressing, in translations of Christian texts, Christian terms and concepts in language borrowed from China’s indigenous Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist traditions. The Jesuits were especially renowned [...] Read more.
Christian missions to China have sought to make their message more acceptable to their Chinese audience by expressing, in translations of Christian texts, Christian terms and concepts in language borrowed from China’s indigenous Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist traditions. The Jesuits were especially renowned for their accommodation policy. Interestingly, when the Jesuit Figurists arrived in China in the early Qing dynasty, they conducted exhaustive studies on the Chinese classics, studies in which they identified Tian and Di of Chinese culture with God or Deus in Latin; their descriptions of Jesus and Adam were decorated with “chinoiserie” through their association with the Yijing and Chinese mystical legends. Each Figurist, in investigating Figurism and interpreting the Yijing, had his own identity, focus, and trajectory. The Figurist use of sheng ren was employed in this paper to distinguish each signature approach and how they explained the image of Jesus and prelapsarian Adam using the ethical emotions and virtues of a sheng ren 聖人 in their reinterpretation of the Yijing and the Dao. This also led to the European people aspiring for a more in-depth understanding and more discussion of the Yijing and the Dao. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Literature in Chinese Contexts) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Jingjiao under the Lenses of Chinese Political Theology
Religions 2019, 10(10), 551; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100551 - 26 Sep 2019
Viewed by 792
Abstract
Conflict between religion and state politics is a persistent phenomenon in human history. Hence it is not surprising that the propagation of Christianity often faces the challenge of “political theology”. When the Church of the East monk Aluoben reached China in 635 during [...] Read more.
Conflict between religion and state politics is a persistent phenomenon in human history. Hence it is not surprising that the propagation of Christianity often faces the challenge of “political theology”. When the Church of the East monk Aluoben reached China in 635 during the reign of Emperor Tang Taizong, he received the favorable invitation of the emperor to translate Christian sacred texts for the collections of Tang Imperial Library. This marks the beginning of Jingjiao (景教) mission in China. In historiographical sense, China has always been a political domineering society where the role of religion is subservient and secondary. A school of scholarship in Jingjiao studies holds that the fall of Jingjiao in China is the obvious result of its over-involvement in local politics. The flaw of such an assumption is the overlooking of the fact that in the Tang context, it is impossible for any religious establishments to avoid getting in touch with the Tang government. In the light of this notion, this article attempts to approach this issue from the perspective of “political theology” and argues that instead of over-involvement, it is rather the clashing of “ideologies” between the Jingjiao establishment and the ever-changing Tang court’s policies towards foreigners and religious bodies that caused the downfall of Jingjiao Christianity in China. This article will posit its argument based on the analysis of the Chinese Jingjiao canonical texts, especially the Xian Stele, and takes this as a point of departure to observe the political dynamics between Jingjiao and Tang court. The finding of this paper does show that the intellectual history of Chinese Christianity is in a sense a comprehensive history of “political theology”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Literature in Chinese Contexts) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
The Gospel According to Marxism: Zhu Weizhi and the Making of Jesus the Proletarian (1950)
Religions 2019, 10(9), 535; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090535 - 19 Sep 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 665
Abstract
This article explores the integration of Marxism into the Gospel narratives of the Christian Bible in Zhu Weizhi’s Jesus the Proletarian (1950). It argues that Zhu in this Chinese Life of Jesus refashioned a Gospel according to Marxism, with a proletarian Jesus at [...] Read more.
This article explores the integration of Marxism into the Gospel narratives of the Christian Bible in Zhu Weizhi’s Jesus the Proletarian (1950). It argues that Zhu in this Chinese Life of Jesus refashioned a Gospel according to Marxism, with a proletarian Jesus at its center, by creatively appropriating a wealth of global sources regarding historical Jesus and primitive Christianity. Zhu’s rewriting of Jesus can be appreciated as a precursor to the later Latin American liberation Christology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Literature in Chinese Contexts) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Rhetorica and Exemplum: The Genesis of Christian Literature in Late Imperial China
Religions 2019, 10(8), 465; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080465 - 05 Aug 2019
Viewed by 882
Abstract
This paper offers a survey of how European rhetoric reached China in the transitional period between the Ming and the Qing dynasties. The focus of my paper is how a verbal ars is transformed into the written ars, thus inaugurating the Christian [...] Read more.
This paper offers a survey of how European rhetoric reached China in the transitional period between the Ming and the Qing dynasties. The focus of my paper is how a verbal ars is transformed into the written ars, thus inaugurating the Christian literature in late imperial China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Literature in Chinese Contexts) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Shakespeare in Chinese as Christian Literature: Isaac Mason and Ha Zhidao’s Translation of Tales from Shakespeare
Religions 2019, 10(8), 452; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080452 - 26 Jul 2019
Viewed by 1356
Abstract
The introduction of Shakespeare to China was through the Chinese translation of Mary and Charles Lamb’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays, Tales from Shakespeare. The Western missionaries’ Chinese translations of the Lambs’ adaptation have rarely been studied. Isaac Mason and his assistant Ha [...] Read more.
The introduction of Shakespeare to China was through the Chinese translation of Mary and Charles Lamb’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays, Tales from Shakespeare. The Western missionaries’ Chinese translations of the Lambs’ adaptation have rarely been studied. Isaac Mason and his assistant Ha Zhidao’s 1918 translation of the Lambs’ book, entitled Haiguo Quyu (Interesting Tales from Overseas Countries), is one of the earliest Chinese versions translated by Christian missionaries. Although Mason was a Christian missionary and his translation was published by The Christian Literature Society for China, Mason adopted an indirect way to propagate Christian thoughts and rewrote some parts that are related to Christian belief. The rewriting is manifested in several aspects, including the use of four-character titles with Confucian ethical tendencies, rewriting paragraphs with hidden Christian ideas and highlighting themes closely related to Christian ethics, such as mercy, forgiveness and justice. While unique in its time, such a strategy of using the Chinese translation of Shakespeare for indirect missionary work had an impact on subsequent missionary translations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Literature in Chinese Contexts) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Theology of Religions and Intertextuality: A Case Study of Christian–Confucian and Islamic–Confucian Dialogue in the Early 20th-Century China
Religions 2019, 10(7), 417; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070417 - 03 Jul 2019
Viewed by 2038
Abstract
In this paper, I will propose an intertextual theology of religions from a non-Western cultural perspective through the works in The True Light Review, an official magazine of Chinese Baptist churches, and Yue Hua, a prominent and long-lived Muslim magazine. My aim [...] Read more.
In this paper, I will propose an intertextual theology of religions from a non-Western cultural perspective through the works in The True Light Review, an official magazine of Chinese Baptist churches, and Yue Hua, a prominent and long-lived Muslim magazine. My aim is to show that the religious discourses in these Chinese religious periodicals inform us of an alternative understanding of literary construction of religious plurality and challenge the current versions of theology of religions. With the concept of intertextuality, the differentiation and integration of religious identities indicates that language-constituted realities are multi-dimensional and multi-directional. In some respects, religious believers would like to differentiate themselves in the search for an authentic and meaningful life, but, they are nonetheless already interconnected and interrelated. In some other respects, they approach and embrace each other for integration to assert a common identity among religions in that area, but that could transform their religions with new meaning. Our case study will also further theological reflection of the nature of Christian life in predominantly non-Christian societies as an intertextual religious reality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Literature in Chinese Contexts) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
The Catholic Yijing: Lü Liben’s Passion Narratives in the Context of the Qing Prohibition of Christianity
Religions 2019, 10(7), 416; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070416 - 02 Jul 2019
Viewed by 1435
Abstract
Yijing benzhi 易經本旨 (original meaning of the Yijing, 1774) constitutes a unique piece of Christian literature produced by the Chinese Catholic believer Lü Liben 呂立本 in the Qing period. Following in the footsteps of Jesuit missionaries such as Joachim Bouvet (1656–1730), Lü [...] Read more.
Yijing benzhi 易經本旨 (original meaning of the Yijing, 1774) constitutes a unique piece of Christian literature produced by the Chinese Catholic believer Lü Liben 呂立本 in the Qing period. Following in the footsteps of Jesuit missionaries such as Joachim Bouvet (1656–1730), Lü represents a rare Chinese voice of the Figurist interpretation of the Yijing by claiming that ancient Chinese sages had received and recorded God’s divine revelation in this venerated Chinese classic. Focusing on his narratives of Christ’s Passion, this paper examines the ways in which Lü interprets the symbolic meanings of the trigrams/hexagrams and deduces their theological connotations in light of Catholic thought. The interweaving of religious devotion, tradition and experience underpinned a creative re-interpretation of the Passion narratives, which strives to sustain the faith of Chinese Catholic communities in the context of the Qing prohibition and persecution of Christianity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Literature in Chinese Contexts) Printed Edition available
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
A New Stream of Spiritual Literature: Bei Cun’s The Baptizing River
Religions 2019, 10(7), 413; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070413 - 30 Jun 2019
Viewed by 1165
Abstract
This essay traces the emergence of new categories of “spiritual writing” in Chinese literature, before offering an interpretation of Bei Cun’s 1992 novel The Baptizing River (Shixi de he 施洗的河) as an exemplar. Bei Cun’s first novel as a “Christian author” attracted much [...] Read more.
This essay traces the emergence of new categories of “spiritual writing” in Chinese literature, before offering an interpretation of Bei Cun’s 1992 novel The Baptizing River (Shixi de he 施洗的河) as an exemplar. Bei Cun’s first novel as a “Christian author” attracted much critical attention, given the contrast with the author’s prior works and its message of spiritual salvation at a time of political change and metaphysical searching. A psychosocial biography of its anti-hero Liu Lang, set in wartime China, the novel charts the protagonist’s criminal livelihood, descent into moral depravity, and gradual questioning of life and purpose. This essay foregrounds the structure of the novel and explores how narrative form and theological meaning interact. To do this, it traces the course of the river journeys that mark the different stages of Liu Lang’s life and which culminate in his unorthodox baptismal rebirth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Literature in Chinese Contexts) Printed Edition available
Back to TopTop