Defending Christianity in China: the Jesuit defense of Christianity in the lettres edifiantes et Curieuses & Ruijianlu in relation to the Yongzheng proscription of 1724

K-REx Repository

Show simple item record Marinescu, Jocelyn M. N. 2008-04-11T16:28:44Z 2008-04-11T16:28:44Z 2008-04-11T16:28:44Z
dc.description.abstract Jesuits presented evidence in both French and Chinese to defend Christianity by citation of legal and historical precedents in favor of the "Teaching of the Lord of Heaven" (Catholicism) even after the Yongzheng Emperor's 1724 imperial edict proscribed the religion as a heterodox cult. The Jesuits' strategy is traceable to Matteo Ricci's early missionary approach of accommodation to Chinese culture, which aimed to prove grounds for a Confucian-Christian synthesis based upon complementary points between Christian theology and their interpretation of Yuanru (Original Literati Teaching). Their synthesis involved both written and oral rhetorical techniques that ranged from attempts to show compatibility between different religious values, to the manipulation of texts, and to outright deceit. Personal witness, observation, and interpretation played a key role in Jesuit group translation projects. French and Chinese apologetic texts composed to prove grounds for the repeal of the 1724 proscription edict contain these approaches. The Lettres edifantes et curieuses ecrite par des missionnaires jesuites (1702-1776) contain examples of this approach, as well as the Ruijianlu (1735-1737). Memorials in the Ruijianlu cited favorable legal precedents and imperial patronage rendered to Xiyangren (Men from the West). Jesuits presented their case for toleration of Christianity in the Ruijianlu in terms of Chinese notions of hospitality, diplomacy, and defense found in texts from as early as the Zhou dynasty. They cited an enduring Chinese defensive notion of "welcoming men from afar" (rouyuanren), but the court refused to return to this soft policy. The Qianlong Emperor rejected the Kangxi era policy of "welcoming men from afar" regarding established missions. In 1735 the imperial Board of Punishments re-enforced the proscription order against Christianity in military units and also ruled that baptism of abandoned infants by a Chinese convert constituted religious heterodoxy based on the Qing Code (Article 162). The twenty-one Jesuits (not expelled in 1724) remained in imperial service and at liberty to practice their religion among themselves. Officials pursued a severe policy of punishing any cult deemed heterodox according to statutes of the Code. Persecution of Christians increased throughout the eighteenth century, but abated during the reign of the Daoguang Emperor (1821-1851) when most anti-Christian edicts were rescinded and a subsequent imperial edict pardoned those Christians who practiced the faith for moral perfection. en
dc.language.iso en_US en
dc.publisher Kansas State University en
dc.subject History, European en
dc.subject History, Asia, Australia and Oceania en
dc.subject Religion, History of en
dc.title Defending Christianity in China: the Jesuit defense of Christianity in the lettres edifiantes et Curieuses & Ruijianlu in relation to the Yongzheng proscription of 1724 en
dc.type Dissertation en Doctor of Philosophy en
dc.description.level Doctoral en
dc.description.department Department of History en
dc.description.advisor Marsha L. Frey en
dc.description.advisor Donald J. Mrozek en
dc.subject.umi Religion, History of (0320) en 2008 en May en

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record

Search K-REx

Advanced Search


My Account


Center for the

Advancement of Digital


118 Hale Library

Manhattan KS 66506

(785) 532-7444