To Republish or Not to Republish: The Reproduction of Chinese Christian Texts in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Dr Hsin-fang Wu1

1Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

The Jesuit China mission in the late Ming and early Qing periods has been characterized by its rich Chinese publications on Christian teachings, humanities, and Western science. The religious books, in particular, helped Chinese Christian communities preserve the memory of the mission and practice faith during the Qing persecution. When new Jesuits arrived in Shanghai in 1842, they soon found that the books written by the predecessors of the Jesuit order were a useful legacy for the resettlement of the new mission. The newly-arrived Jesuits began collecting old books and planning to put them into reprint. However, they were cautious in the process. These old books, indeed, were an excellent venue to connect the current mission to the old one, but they could also bring the old problems that had undermined the previous mission, such as the Rites Controversy, to the new era. This paper tackles with the republishing process of the old texts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from book acquisition, editorial selection, and textual revisions, to see the role of these republications played in a new era and the ways that the collaborators of the book reproduction worked together.


Dr Hsin-fang Wu is a historian of late imperial and modern China with a specialization in European missionary work and religious printing culture. She is currently in the process of revising her dissertation and turning it into a book manuscript, entitled “The Re-invention of the Jesuit Legacy in Modern China, 1842-1949.”



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