Trans-textual Dialogue in the Jesuit Missionary Intra-Lingual Translation of the Yjing

Author: 

Sophie Ling-chia Wei

PhD defended at: 

University of Pennsylvania (USA)

Defended: 

2015

In Early Qing Dynasty, the Jesuit Figurists found the Yijing as their precious treasure and treated it as the bridge linking the gap between Christianity and Chinese civilization. The Yijing was viewed as preserving relics of this pure true religion. They tried to find Prisca Theologia (ancient theology) in the Chinese classics, especially in the Yijing 易經 (the Book of Changes). This group of Jesuit Figurists viewed the Yijing as a prophetic book, which contained some of the mysteries of Christianity and so started their trans-textual dialogue with the ancient texts and the auxiliary commentaries of the Yijing. What distinguishes this dissertation from other academic research about the Jesuit Figurists is its focus on the Jesuit Figurists’ Chinese works on the Yijing. Between 1710 and 1712, Bouvet wrote eight works about the Yijing in Chinese. This dissertation aims to discover the missing piece in the puzzle and make the whole research on the Jesuit Figurists’ works of the Yijing more complete.
Though their endeavors on the re-interpretation of the Yijing and their proselytization failed to promote Catholicism as a national religion in China because the Kangxi Emperor and Chinese literati all had their own agenda, their dialogue with the Yijing to build the esoteric connection and parallels with Christianity reveals more and more valuable findings. The same mystical elements, such as numbers, images, characters in both the Western tradition of biblical hermeneutics, and the charts and hexagrams of Yijing, become tokens of exchange and disclose evidence of their deliberate interpretation. Each page of their Chinese handwritten manuscript should not be left unnoticed because they invite us to embark on a new journey to uncover their embedded mystic theological interpretation in their trans-textual dialogue in the intra-lingual translation of the Book of Changes.

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