The Luminous Way to the East: Texts and History of the First Encounter of Christianity with China

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The Luminous Way to the East offers a comprehensive survey of the historical, literary, epigraphic, and archaeological sources of the first stage of the Christian mission to China. It explores the complex and multifaceted process of the interaction with the different cultural and religious milieux that the Church of the East experienced in its diffusion throughout Central Asia and into China during the first millennium.

Matteo Nicolini-Zani provides an overview of the Christian presence in China during the Tang dynasty (618-907) by reconstructing the composition and organization of Christian communities, the geographical location of Christian monasteries, and the related historical events attested by the sources. Through a new and richly annotated English translation of the Chinese Christian texts produced in Tang China, the volume provides a documented look at what was the earliest, and perhaps the most extraordinary, encounter of Christianity with Chinese culture and religions (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism). It shows how East Syriac Christianity in its eastward expansion along the Silk Road from Persia to China was open to the adoption of other languages and imagery and was able to enculturate the Christian teaching into new cultural and religious forms without losing its identity.

 

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The book offers a thoughtful, broad, and accurate depiction of Jingjiao Christianity, while also providing great translations of the primary texts. I highly recommend this book to people who are interested in sinology, Chinese Christian history, and Christian missiology." -- Heejun Yang, Reading Religion 

"Though surely intended for a specialized readership, this book is highly recommended for anyone interested in the roots of Christianity in Asia who is also willing to be challenged by other ancient contextualizations of Christianity and willing to imagine other normative frameworks for Christianity." -- Tobias Brandner, Divinity School of Chung Chi College, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Mission Studies 

"A welcome and useful addition to the corpus of scholarship on the early Christian missions to China, together with a valuable inclusion of translated texts." -- Dr. Li Tang, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Biblical Studies and Ecclesiastical History, The University of Salzburg 

"The Luminous Way to the East tells a fascinating story about the spread of the Church of the East to China. Not only does it offer the most comprehensive and up-to-date account of the subject with painstaking synthesis from numerous sources in both Asian and Western languages, but also makes obscure Christian manuscripts from Central Asia and China newly accessible, with lucid translations and meticulous annotations for the English-speaking world." -- Huaiyu Chen, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Arizona State University 

"The activities of the Syriac-rite Christians in Tang-period China constitute one of the most fascinating episodes both in the history of Christianity and in the religious history of China. In this fully updated English translation of his work -highly readable, of the highest academic standard, and particularly strong in the coverage of Chinese-language sources- Matteo Nicolini-Zani provides us with what is undoubtedly the most thorough and reliable account available today of that remarkable chapter of history." -- Hidemi Takahashi, Professor in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo 

About the Author

Matteo Nicolini-Zani is a Catholic monk of the ecumenical Monastic Community of Bose, Italy, and a sinologist. As an independent scholar, he conducts historical and literary research on Christianity in China. He is the author of Christian Monks on Chinese Soil: A History of Monastic Missions to China.
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Oxford University Press (April 12, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 424 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0197609643
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0197609644

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