A Question of Rites: Friar Domingo Navarrete and the Jesuits in China (Hardback)J.S. Cummins (author)
Hardback Published: 13/01/1993
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The "Question of Rites" - or the Chinese rites controversy - created a scandal in the 17th century that shook the Catholic Church and delighted its enemies such as Pascal and the Jansenists; it also contributed, in the end, to the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773. The affair arose with the attempt to convert China to Christianity and revolved around the question of accommodation (still a live issue today). Specifically, what attitude should the missionaries adopt to the ancestor veneration that was so integral a part of Chinese culture? The Jesuits, who came first, saw it as "merely civic and social custom, tinged perhaps with superstititon, but separable from it"; the friars as "certainly superstitious and perhaps even idolatrous". Long rivals, the prize of converting China fuelled their antagonism; politics intruded too, the Jesuits being backed by Portugal, the Dominicans by Spain. Professor Cummins retells the story deliberately from a "dissident" viewpoint. Till now its history has been largely that of the Jesuits; his focus is the Spanish Dominican, Domingo de Navarrete, the man who emerged as the spokesman for the friars' cause. Not a scholar or scientist of the calibre of Matteo Ricci or other Jesuits in Peking, Navarrete nonetheless fully merits attention. His major work, the "Tratados", was widely read, admired by the likes of Quesnay and Locke, and served as a key source of European knowledge about China. The first chapters of the present book set out the background to the affair: the rise of the Dominicans and the Jesuits, their differing philosophies, and their conflicts in Europe and America. After tracing the origins of the China mission, Professor Cummins then follows Navarrete's own career, his eleven years as a missionary in China, the politics of Rome and Madrid and the books he wrote, to this death as a would-be reforming archbishop of Hispaniolia in 1686. At the same time he conveys with a rare sympathy all the dreams and passion of these missionaries, while remaining alive to the ironies and contraditions of the positions they adopted.
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing Group
Weight: 690 g
Dimensions: 165 x 244 mm
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