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Striving for «The Whole Duty of Man»

James Legge and the Scottish Protestant Encounter with China. Assessing Confluences in Scottish Nonconformism, Chinese Missionary Scholarship, Victorian Sinology, and Chinese Protestantism. Volume I and Volume II


Lauren Pfister

This is an intellectual biography of the early life and missionary career of James Legge (1815-1897), a monumental figure in 19 th century European sinology. In the first volume details about Legge’s family, religious setting, and educational experiences in northeastern Scotland are shown to anchor his intellectual interests, shaping his later religious transformation and commitment to Chinese missionary work. The trials, adjustments and initial missionary strategies of the Legge family’s first years in Malacca and the new colony of Hongkong (1840-1848) bring this volume to a close. In the second volume the flourishing of Legge’s missionary scholarship is cast in the context of his application of «principles» of Scottish Nonconformism and Scottish realist philosophy to many unexpected aspects of the Hongkong and Chinese contexts. While his sinological scholarship has weathered more than a century of criticism and neglect, Legge’s unexpected emergence into roles as a Scottish Nonconformist prophet and counter-cultural folk hero in Hongkong reveal new dimensions of Protestant missions in China which challenge standard Orientalist interpretations of cultural imperialism.
Contents: The life and works of the Scottish missionary-scholar and sinologist James Legge (1815-1897) – A revisionary view of early Protestant missionary encounters with Chinese intellectual and spiritual traditions – New Chinese theological developments, twists in Taiping ideology, and cross-cultural Sinological collaborations are all stimulated by Legge’s missionary career.