Matteo Ricci and His Closest Chinese Friends
Chapter 1. Preparing the Ground for Evangelism: Matteo Ricci’s Terms of Endearment in Jiaoyou Lun
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PREPARING THE GROUND FOR EVANGELISM
Matteo Ricci’s Terms of Endearment in Jiaoyou Lun
In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Matteo Ricci has been celebrated as one of the greatest “cultural brokers”1 or “a veritable ‘bridge’ between the two civilizations, European and Chinese.”2 Back in the late sixteenth century Ricci himself gave us reasons for viewing him posthumously as such, the most conspicuous of these being his famous Chinese translation of European sayings on friendship. Entitled You Lun (On Friends) at first but changed later to Jiaoyou Lun (On Friendship) at the suggestion of his Chinese friends, this work was composed in 1595 and made up initially of seventy-six axioms. Circulated in manuscript before being published in 1596 by a Chinese friend without his permission, it was then augmented to one hundred maxims and published in 1599 and 1601 by two different Chinese friends who once again acted on their own initiatives. In addition to Andreas Eborensis (1498–1573)’s Sententiae et exempla (Wise Sayings and Illustrative Anecdotes), Ricci drew on memories of classical and patristic writers he had studied at Jesuit colleges and universities and on his newly acquired awareness of Chinese ideas on the topic. Frequently anthologized by Chinese scholars in the first half of the seventeenth century, it became in time “the most widely influential of his Chinese translation works.”3 The success, however, came about because Ricci and his Chinese friends read different...
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