The Diffused Story of the Footwashing in John 13: A Textual Study of Bible Reception in Late Imperial China (2021)

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Chen Yanrong


Title: The Diffused Story of the Footwashing in John 13: A Textual Study of Bible Reception in Late Imperial China

Publisher: Eugene: Pickwick Publications
ISBN 13: 978-1-5326-5311-7
268 pp.

Softcover $32
Date: 2/9/2021

Series: Contrapuntal Readings of the Bible in World Christianity

Series Editors: K.K. Yeo, Melanie Baffes

Foreword: Standaert, Nicolas

Ordering Methods

Wipf & Stock Website



The first Catholic missionaries of the early modern period arrived in mainland China in 1582, but the first Catholic Bible did not appear until 1968, long after Protestant missionaries already had published several versions. The mystery behind the four-hundred-year gap is not a why question but instead involves many how questions–primarily, how did communication of the Bible take place in the Chinese context without a written text in the Chinese language? This book uncovers narrative forms of biblical stories and explores the ways they were delivered to Chinese audiences. Relying on textual evidence, it presents a diversified exploration of a specific biblical story from the Latin Vulgate Bible–the footwashing in John 13–and its translation into various Chinese texts. In different religious milieus, the biblical narrative provided Chinese audiences a core source of faith, connected them with the most commonly accepted beliefs, and fostered their religiosity across communities in China from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. The interdisciplinary approach adopted herein sheds new light on the history of the Bible in China and paves the way for further studies on the abundance of Chinese biblical stories and texts. 


Author’s Words

This book serves readers from diverse backgrounds. Except for the arguments and presentations developed in this book, three indices respectively for authors, subjects, and scripture addressed in this book may be handy tools for researchers as this study centers on twenty-six Christian books and involves more than dozens of Chinese writings defending or opposing Christianity. Biblical scholars and devotees may encounter various Chinese versions of the footwashing story in John 13 without the need to know the Chinese language. Students in classes of world Christianity or Chinese religions may find this book useful access to an exciting playground of cultures. This book is also written for Chinese Christians of different congregations and those who are interested in Chinese Christian communities, offering an approach for them to explore a small piece of the history of Christianity in China.     



Table of Contents


Introduction | xxi


1. Textual Substances in Place of a Chinese Bible | 1

2. The Footwashing Pericope and the Three-Layer Framework | 8



Part I: Equivalent Narratives in Scriptural Books


3. Corresponding Chinese Versions Varying in Words | 21

4. Shengjing zhijie: Straight Explanation of Sacred Scriptures | 36

5. Misa jingdian: Classic and Canon on the Mass | 49

6. Guxin shengjing: Old and New Holy Scriptures | 64



Part II: Varied Narratives Composed by Missionaries and Chinese Converts


7. Diverged Versions Made for Chinese Readers | 77

8. Biography and Illustrations Integrated | 98

9. Works Prepared by Missionaries | 115

10. Works of Chinese Clergies and Laity | 129



Part III: Divergent Narratives in Versatile Texts


11. Reinvented Versions in Differing Compositions | 149

12. Writings and Images for Outsiders to Learn of Christianity | 179

13. Texts to Foster Chinese Christian Religiosity among Insiders | 193

14. Disparate Chinese Compositions | 206



15. Conclusion: The Footwashing Case and the Bible in China | 218



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