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Lessons from Matteo Ricci Reflection on the ... - China Zentrum eV

Lessons from Matteo Ricci Reflection on the ... - China Zentrum eV

Lessons from Matteo Ricci Reflection on the ... - China Zentrum

ong>Lessonsong> ong>fromong> ong>Matteoong> ong>Ricciong>ong>Reflectionong> on the Chinese-Western Transfer of Ideasby ong>Matteoong> ong>Ricciong> and Its Implications for the Chinese-European EncounterMichael Lackner 1Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends and colleagues,Delivering a speech about ong>Matteoong> ong>Ricciong>, his missionary endeavor, and his impact on Westernimages of China is not an easy task. It would have been much easier 30 years ago, whenthe studies of the Jesuit mission were still dominated by Western historians of that mission,who mainly focused on the missionaries’ educational background and their willingness toaccommodate their missionary strategies to the respective local conditions they perceivedas vital for imbedding the message of evangelization. These issues will still have to be takeninto account, however, the past 30 years have witnessed an increasing interest ong>fromong> twomore fields: first, scholars of Chinese Studies in the West have departed ong>fromong> the unilateralperspective of their colleagues in Western history and have tried to restitute the voices ofthe Chinese contemporaries of the missionaries. The inquiry into Chinese sources of theperiod has proved immensely fruitful, mainly because we have become aware of the factthat there was no uniform Chinese response to the Christian mission; instead of speakingwith one voice, Chinese literati of all levels, ong>fromong> high-browed to grass-root, articulatedvery different ideas and reactions with regard to their encounter with the missionaries, notto mention the different attitudes chosen by both the court and the common people.There is another important factor that makes our image of ong>Ricciong> and his successorseven more complicated: Since 20 odd years, Chinese historians have unearthed hithertounknown sources concerning the Jesuits’ impact on the History of Science in China – and,more recently, materials concerning the Chinese Christians’ ideas in matters of religion(for instance, the reaction of the Nanjing Christians during the Controversy of Rites).Thus, the study of ong>Matteoong> ong>Ricciong> now encompasses fields like the history of the mission,history of religion, religious anthropology, history of science, history of ideas, and manyother fields; it is a research that is undertaken by both Chinese and Western scholars, andit has become a laboratory for cross-cultural encounters; finally, we have entered the ep-The following text is the contribution of Prof. Dr. Michael Lackner, Full Professor (Chair) of Chinese Studies,Department of Middle Eastern and Far Eastern Languages and Cultures, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, tothe 8th European Catholic China Colloquium “Chinese in Europe – Trends and Catholic Perspectives,” Freising,September 16–19, 2010.Religions & Christianity in Today's China, Vol. II, 2012, No. 4, pp. 33-41, ISSN: 2192-9289 · www.china-zentrum.de 33

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