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Chinese Religion: History of Study


The study of Chinese religion is connected intimately with the overall history of Western fascination with Chinese tradition. In the most obvious sense, the important historical role of Christian missionaries in China testifies to a pronounced and not always strictly apologetic interest in the subject of non-Christian forms of belief and practice. The question of the nature and significance of Chinese religion has also had a special (and at times contradictory) prominence in the rise of Western secular scholarship. Thus the early awareness of and debate over the meaning of Chinese and Asian traditionsespecially concerning the comparative similitude of "other" cultural manifestations of religioncan be associated with both missionary sentiment and the intellectual revolution in Western thought during the Enlightenment.

In the case of China, these developments took a unique turn. The eighteenth-century skeptical spirit toward "superstitious" and "idolatrous" forms of religion found distinct comfort in the image (conveyed by the Jesuits) of a Confucian China politically ministered to by a special class of moral philosophers who condemned the "degeneracy" and "superstition" of Buddhism, Daoism, and popular religion. China was often seen by Voltaire and other Enlightenment thinkers as a special exception to the principle that religious irrationality and priestcraft ruled the history of all major civilizations. This imaginary vision of the classical purity of China is strongly reflected in the history of Sinology and is responsible for traditional difficulties in fully appreciating the rich history of Chinese religious experience.

Although the study of Chinese religion has been broadly intertwined with Western intellectual and cultural history since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this discussion will focus only on the history of certain key figures and movements that have specifically contributed to the scholarly study of Chinese religions. In this regard Chinese religions will be taken to mean the three literate traditions known as Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism (and their interactions); the common body of beliefs and practices that characterize Chinese communities and are sometimes referred to as popular religion; the syncretic sectarian movements of late imperial China, the ancestral cult, and various associated thematic issues, such as archaic religion, ritual, myth, and cosmological symbolism, and related topics of comparative method and interpretation. But this straightforward listing of topics must be tempered with the understanding that the history of the study of Chinese religions has always involved the definitional ambiguities associated with the categories of religion, salvation, and the sacred (for example, the significance of such terms as Dao, Tian, and Shangdi). Further difficulties concern the porous interrelationships of different literate traditions (thus the problematic nature of the common "three religions" rubric) and the diffuse functional relation between Chinese religions and social and familial life. These considerations have often resulted in overly facile assertions about the syncretic and eclectic nature of Chinese religions or about the fundamental hierarchical dichotomy between "great" traditions (that is, aristocratic, civic, literate, orthodox, and those that are usually equated with state Confucianism) and "little" rituals (folk, popular, oral, nonorthodox, and those practices associated with regional sectarian religions).

The history of the study of Chinese religions has therefore contributed to Western and East Asian intellectual history, Christian missionary tradition, and the emergence of comparative religion and Sinology as distinct academic disciplines. Given this complex historical and intellectual legacy, it will be necessary to condense and organize the following discussion under three general phases of development: (1) seventeenth- and eighteenth-century contributions by Jesuit missionaries and the French Enlightenment roots of academic Sinology, (2) European Orientalism and Protestant missionary scholarship in the nineteenth century, and (3) the emergence of the interdisciplinary study of Chinese religions as an academic area in the twentieth century.

By way of setting the stage for the coming of the Jesuit mission at the end of the sixteenth century, it is sufficient to recognize that the medieval European image of China was mythically associated with legends telling of its fantastic, monstrous, or paradisiacal nature. Such a vision of the "marvels of the East" is most characteristically observed in the semifictitious fourteenth-century work known as the Travels of Sir John Mandeville. At about this same time more realistic firsthand accounts of religions in Mongolian-ruled Cathay appeared in the travel reports of early Franciscan missionaries and most notably in Marco Polo's Description of the World. But it was not until the great Portuguese trade efforts of the sixteenth century that detailed reports about China and Japan became available in Europe. This new wealth of knowledge is especially exemplified by the widely distributed Historia del gran Reyno de la China (1585), written and compiled by the Spanish Augustinian Juan González de Mendoza. This work's grudging concern with the hidden similitude of Chinese religion in relation to the "holy, sacred, and Christian religion" typifies a kind of interpretive strategy that was to be reflected in different ways throughout the centuries of Western intercourse with China.

Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

In the same decade that Mendoza's work was published, Matteo Ricci (15521610), an Italian Jesuit priest, arrived in the China of the late Ming dynasty and, drawing upon the tradition of Jesuit missions to Asia (already established by Francis Xavier and Alessandro Valignano), inaugurated a new era in the Western understanding of Chinese civilization. Indeed Ricci may be considered not only the founding father of Sinology as the specialized, linguistically proficient study of China but also the first great interpreter of Chinese religions. The work fostered by Ricci was carried on and enriched by a long line of distinguished Jesuit scholars whose efforts span the early seventeenth century and extend to the second period of the French Jesuit mission at the end of the seventeenth century and into the eighteenth century. The pioneering translations of the Chinese classics and the detailed observations of Chinese life and religion produced by these indefatigable missionary-scholars gave rise to the European vogue of chinoiserie and, even more profoundly, influenced the intellectual and religious ferment of the Enlightenment, especially in France and Germany.

Ricci's studied openness to Chinese tradition was not as plainly objective as it seemed, however, because the Jesuits tended to adopt the intellectual biases as well as the dress and etiquette of China's lettered class, the Confucian scholars and bureaucrats. These men promulgated a canon of classical writings that expressly excluded Buddhist, Daoist, and other heterodox points of view. To study Chinese tradition therefore meant first and foremost to peruse the classics, modeled upon the neo-Confucian vision of the unity of Chinese civilization and on Zhu Xi's methods of commentarial exegesis. This mandarin perspective meshed with Ricci's own education in a Renaissance and Counter-Reformation tradition of Christian humanism that honored the philosophical and moral worth of classical Greek thought.

In the spirit of Mendoza's concern for similitude, Ricci examined the classics and found that ancient China shared a special sympathy with Christianity because of its apparent reverence for the one God, called Shangdi (ruler, lord on high, supreme ruler) or Tian (heaven). For Ricci, these appellations revealed the remnants of an archaic tradition of monotheistic belief and practice that had been lost, it seemed, under the baleful influence of Buddhist and Daoist idolatry. To be successful in China therefore, Christianity needed only to purify the false pantheistic accretions of latter-day Confucianism and to complete and fulfill the literati's philosophical appreciation of the natural law with the missionaries' gift of divine revelation.

Most of the Jesuit commentators tended to share Ricci's accommodationist methodology, but his sympathetic attitude toward Confucianism, the classics, and ancestral ritual was not universally accepted by all Jesuits (see, for example, Niccolo Longobardo's Traité sur quelques points de la religion des Chinois, 1701, which stressed the materialistic atheism of neo-Confucian thought) or by the other, ecclesiastically contentious orders of Catholic missionaries. In fact issues of missionary policy toward Chinese religions, including the "term question"whether Shangdi (Tian) could be considered authentically theisticgave rise to the embittered "rites controversy," which led eventually to the papal suppression of the Jesuit order in 1773. The rites controversy can also be associated in many ways with the growing European debate over the definitional or essential nature of religion as reflected, for example, in the theory of deism as a "natural religion" of reason. Thus the whole rites episode and its related intellectual environment can help explain why Sinologists have often found the Chinese to be less intrinsically religious than other traditions.

A second phase in the crystallization of a self-conscious Sinological tradition in the West is seen in the French Jesuit mission sent to China toward the end of the seventeenth century under the royal consent of Louis XIV. This effort continued into the "enlightened" climate of the eighteenth century and was favored by the newly tolerant rule of the Manchu emperor of the Kangxi period during the early Qing dynasty. Like the remarkable clerics of the first part of the seventeenth century, this new wave of missionaries included a roster of truly accomplished scholars who focused on Confucian classical tradition in the broad humanistic spirit of Ricci. These scholar-priests took special care to communicate the fruits of their Sinological labor back to Europefor example, the impressive translations of the classics by Antoine Glaubil and the still useful compilations of miscellaneous translations and descriptive material about Chinese life and letters known as the Lettres édifiantes et curieuses (17031776) and the Mémoires concernant l'histoire, les sciences, les arts, les mœurs, les usages, etc., des chinois (17761814).

The interpretive perspective of the works found in the Lettres and Mémoires often reflected the old quest for hidden similitude so that, for example, J.-J. Amiot and J.-H. Prémare argued that chapter 14 of the Laozi revealed a phonetically encoded reference to Jehovah. More substantial than the occult presence of Jehovah in early Daoist texts, though very much related as an interpretive genre, was the so-called Figurist movement associated with Joachim Bouvet, J.-F. Foucquet, and Prémare. Inspired by the biblical tradition of allegorical interpretation, the Figurist movement took Ricci's approach to the Chinese classics to the extreme; it tried to show how the ancient Chinese texts disclosed not only hidden vestiges of monotheism and Trinitarian belief but also remnants of ancient Hebrew law and, prefiguring the New Testament, allusions to an incarnate future redeemer.

In Paris during this same period academics took the first steps in the direction of a secular tradition of professional Sinological scholarship. Various scholars of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, such as Nicolas Fréret (16881749), the Arabist Étienne Fourmont (16831745), and the Syriac specialist Joseph de Guignes (17211800), turned their attention from the Near East to the Far East. Making use of the communications coming from the Jesuitsand aided by Arcade Hoang, a native Chinese who had been sent to Paris for training as a priestthese academicians sought to catalog, edit, publish, and sometimes plagiarize the rapidly accumulating materials coming from China. Other more original efforts concerning religion include in particular de Guignes's studies on the Indian origins of Buddhism based on his study of Chinese sources. Other works by de Guignes, such as his treatise entitled Observations sur quelques points concernant la religion et la philosophie des égyptiens et des chinois (1780), represented only a secularized version of the Jesuit fathers' Figurist view and to some degree anticipated the nineteenth-century pan-Babylonian diffusionists.

Nineteenth Century

In the face of the West's growing confidence in its imperial destiny, racial superiority, and dynamic progress, the old infatuation with Confucian China gave way to a more negative, and at times contemptuous, conviction that Chinese culture was inherently stagnant. This belief culminated philosophically in the mid- to late nineteenth century with the German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel's idea of the retarded spiritual development of Confucianism in particular and of Chinese civilization in general as well as with Leopold von Ranke's conclusion that China represented a realm of the "eternal standstill." This more negative evaluation of China, however, was only a special instance of a broader, antipodal Orientalist mode of nineteenth-century scholarship that tended to view all Near and Far Eastern cultures as manifestations of monolithic and backward entity: the Orient, the East, or Asia.

The subject of Oriental religions was particularly important in Western scholarship because it seemed to give access to the underlying and essentially desiccated "national spirit," or Volksgeist, of other cultures. The study of "other" religions, whether Asian or primitive, became central to many new nineteenth-century humanistic sciences, such as folklore studies, comparative philology, sociology, and anthropology, as well as in other comparative historical pursuits, such as Religionswissenschaft. But the specific study of Chinese religions was not as relevant to these endeavors as was the studyinfluenced by pervasive currents of German romanticismof the Indo-European traditions that seemed to share a common linguistic heritage with the West. In this way the "mystery" and "perennial philosophy" of Indian and "Aryan" religion (and the resultant stereotype of Eastern mysticism, typically identified with Buddhism and Upaniadic Hinduism) were often found more stimulating than what the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson called the arid moralism and "doleful monotony" of Confucian China.

French academic scholarship

The rapid establishment of academic Sinology in France came about as the direct inheritance of the Jesuit tradition and the embryonic eighteenth-century Parisian school of Sinological Orientalism. The fruition of these developments took place in 1814 with the installation of Abel Rémusat (17881832) in the first European chair of "langues et littératures chinoises et tartares-mandchoues" at the Collège de France and with the founding in 1822 of the Société Asiatique. An autodidact of the Chinese written language, Rémusat (like almost all of the French Sinologists until Chavannes) was wholly dependent on livresque scholarship. Within the sanctuary of his library, however, Rémusat displayed multifaceted interests and can take credit for being the first academic Sinologist to pay some serious though misguided attention to the nature and significance of Laozi and early Daoism. In addition Rémusat should be remembered for his translation and study of Chinese sources dealing with Buddhist history outside of China.

Rémusat and de Guignes's oblique concern for Chinese sources as they illuminated Buddhist origins became the general approach among French Sinologists and tended to prevent a full analysis of Chinese Buddhism on its own terms. Another factor that contributed to the neglect of East Asian Buddhism was the increasing emphasis later in the nineteenth century on the Pali canon. The Pali scriptures were held to be the original expression of authentic Buddhist tradition and were considered moral and philosophical, in contrast to the idolatrous degeneracy of the sūtra literature and religious practices of the Mahāyāna school. In like manner the philosophical mysticism and moral purity of the classical Daoist texts were generally preferred to what were viewed as the corrupt religious superstition and ritual excess of later Daoism. This kind of overemphasis on the earliest Daoist texts and the almost total neglect of the sectarian religious traditions of later Daoism typified the field of Daoist scholarship until the late twentieth century.

Several other prominent figures in Paris published on Chinese philosophy and religion during the first part of the nineteenth century (e.g., Léon de Rosny, the pioneer Japanologist who also wrote on Chinese religions), but Jean-Pierre Guillaume Pauthier (18011873) and Stanislas Julien (17971873) may be singled out as having been especially influential in the academic discourse of the period. Pauthier, the less-substantial scholar of the two, commands notice for his voluminous and popular works. His controversial partial "translation" of the Laozi (Daodejing) in 1838 led to Julien's more careful translation and commentary in 1841; his publication of Les livres sacrés de l'orient (1852) anticipates F. Max Müller's monumental series Sacred Books of the East.

Stanislas Julien, the inheritor of Rémusat's chair at the Collège de France, epitomized the best kind of philologically oriented scholarship of the day. He was moreover a tireless and combative promoter of academic Sinology throughout Europe and through the work of his students influenced several generations of European scholarship. Much of Julien's work concerned Chinese religion and philosophy. While maintaining the traditional exegetical interest in classical Confucianism, he also produced the first philogically competent translation of the Laozi and a detailed study of the Song dynasty Taishang ganying pian (The Most High's text of actions and response), a tract on popular morality. In keeping with the interests of the French tradition, Julien also published important studies on the celebrated seventh-century Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang and on the philological principles used in the transcription of Sanskrit Buddhist terms from Chinese texts.

Anglo-American missionary scholarship

In comparison with French and continental scholarship (in addition to the French scholars, J. H. Plath, August Pfizmaier, Gustave Schlegel, and Charles-Joseph De Harlez should be noted), English tradition generally emphasized the gifted amateur over the professional pedant and tended to display a singular listlessness with respect to Sinological scholarship. By the midnineteenth century, however, the best and most extensive scholarly work was being done along the coast of China by a sedulous group of British and American Protestant missionaries. As a part of their evangelical faith and by taking full advantage of their direct exposure to the living Chinese tradition, the missionary scholars made the careful study of Chinese language and culture a significant and sometimes overriding aspect of their work. To bring the gospel to Chinaunderstood as the "land of Sinim" (Is. 49:12)was to them most of all a divine calling that had been recorded prophetically in the Old Testament. The diligence of these missionaries cannot be questioned, but it should be noted that the Protestant evangelical theology was most often premised on a Calvinist view of the essentially depraved nature of pagan nations and religions. This view differed significantly from the accommodationist perspective and humanistic sympathy of the Jesuits.

The dominant passion of the Anglo-American missionaries, from Robert Morrison in 1807 until those at the end of the century, was to make the one and only true classic, the Bible, available in Chinese translation. To this end an incredible amount of missionary scholarship was devoted to producing a definitive interdenominational edition of the Scriptures. These labors had important repercussions because the need to find equivalent Chinese religious terms and concepts for an accurate and intelligible translation of the Scriptures led to broad investigations of Chinese religious tradition. In the most pointed sense such questions led to the heated debate known as the term question.

Like the earlier Jesuit controversy, the term question revolved around the problem of whether the classically sanctioned terms Shangdi and Tian were appropriate for expressing the true meaning of the creator God in the Bible. Despite the rancor, this controversy did have the virtue of forcing the combatants to argue etymology and semantics on the basis of Chinese sources and, in the case of the more liberal faction, to invoke fashionable nineteenth-century philological and comparative theories linking linguistic and cultural development. Thus a series of curious diffusionist works that argued for the Mesopotamian origins of Chinese civilizationa Babylonian variation on de Guignes's old Egyptian theoriesappeared during the last part of the nineteenth century.

More important than these quaint examples of early Orientalist license were the general attitude and work of the liberal faction of missionary scholars, a group whose intellectual breadth was especially manifested in such popular China coast periodicals as the Chinese Respository, the Chinese Recorder, and the China Review. Many of the leading figures in this group (such as Walter Medhurst, S. Wells Williams, W. A. P. Martin, John Chalmers, Ernst Eitel, and Joseph Edkins) produced not only responsible scholarship about general aspects of Chinese tradition but also haphazardly objective appraisals of Chinese religions. Especially noteworthy in this regard are Eitel's studies on Buddhism and the popular geomantic art of feng-shui and Edkins's influential accounts of the general nature of Chinese religions, his studies on the Yi jing, and his various writings on Chinese Buddhism.

The greatest scholarly figure among the missionaries was the Scottish Congregationalist James Legge (18151897). Best known for the Chinese Classics (18931895), his massive (five volumes) and still-standard translations, with copious notes based on traditional neo-Confucian commentaries, Legge is the Protestant missionary equivalent of Ricci and the scholarly equal of Julien. Starting out as a conventionally pious missionary with a talent for languages and rigorous habits of study, Legge became embroiled in the term question in the 1850s, about the same time he decided to embark on his translation project. It was the combination of these two factorsthe bitter recriminations engendered by the term debate and his growing Riccian respect for Confucius and the classicsthat progressively alienated Legge from his more parochial colleagues in the mission field and caused him by the 1860s to redefine his vocation primarily in scholarly terms.

After assuming the first British chair of Chinese at Oxford University in 1876 and accepting Max Müller's commission to undertake the Chinese volumes for the Sacred Books of the East series (18791904), Legge produced translations of various Confucian classics, including a controversial rendition of the Yi jing. As a new and surprisingly congenial venture for him, he translated the Laozi and Zhuangzi, together with several short sectarian works. Like the extensive prolegomena to his Confucian translations, Legge's long introduction to the Daoist volumes is a valuable overview of classical Daoist studies up to his time (summarizing the work of Julien, John Chalmers, F. H. Balfour, and Herbert Giles). Legge also wrote a rather desultory popular overview of Chinese religions and, in emulation of French scholarship, produced a translation and study bearing on the travels of the Buddhist Faxian. But Buddhist studies were never even a minor vocation for Legge; in this area one must turn to the influential work of Edkins and Eitel as well as to the relatively more sympathetic studies of Samuel Beal and Timothy Richard.

Jesuit and other amateur scholarship

The nineteenth century is the great age of the Protestant apostolate to China, but after the reconstitution of the Jesuit order in 1814, a renewed Jesuit mission, starting in 1842, again made substantial contributions to the study of Chinese religions. Commendable in this regard are the copious studies found in the Variétés sinologiques (established in 1892), which revived the old encyclopedic spirit of the Mémoires. Individually important for their emphasis on Chinese philosophy and religion were three outstanding Jesuit scholars: Séraphin Couvreur (18351919), Léon Wieger (18561933), and Henri Doré (18591931). Couvreur and Wieger produced important scholarly translations and studies concerning the classics, Daoism, and Buddhism; Henri Doré is primarily remembered for his eighteen-volume Recherches sur les superstitions en Chine (19111938). This was a copious though not always representative descriptive handbook on multifarious popular "superstitions" current at the end of the Qing dynasty. The good father, it should be noted, seems to have partly cribbed his findings from the work of the Chinese Jesuit priest Pierre Hoang (Huang Bailu).

Doré's work reflects the fact that, toward the end of the nineteenth century, popular religious tradition was at last receiving some extensive if often bemused attention. Representing the earliest ethnographic and folkloric investigation of Qing regional religion, mythology, and ancestral ritual were several outstanding works by Anglo-American and European amateur scholars (Justus Doolittle, N. B. Dennys, J. Dyer Ball, and Arthur H. Smith) who lived in Chinese coastal cities. The most significant figure who can be loosely identified with this scholarly trend is the Dutchman J. J. M. de Groot (18541921). After a year in the field preparing for a career as a government interpreter, he published an observant analysis of the seasonal round of popular religious festivals in Amoy (Les fêtes annuellement célébrées à Emoui: Étude concernant la religion populaire des Chinois, 1886). De Groot is most famous, however, for his incomplete, six-volume magisterial synthesis titled The Religious System of China (18921910), which moved away from popular religion to a consideration of classical sources and the ancient substratum of all later forms of Chinese religion. This work was intemperate in tone and essentially sought to debunk what de Groot had come to regard as the retarded pretensions of the elite tradition (see also his Sectarianism and Religious Persecution in China, 2 vols., 19031904). However, de Groot's idea of the universismus (or the underlying archaic unity of elite and popular manifestations of Chinese religion, especially popular Daoism) represented an important yet mostly ignored methodological counterpoint to the artificial "three religions" rubric of classically inspired Sinology.

Twentieth Century

The beginning of the twentieth century saw the passing of the old apologetic missionary movement, which, as a reaction to internal disillusionment and external Chinese antagonism, had moved away from an interest in Chinese religion and pure scholarship. Within academic circles French scholarship continued as the premier Western Sinological tradition, although important work was also done by other European, Russian, and American scholars as well as by Japanese and Chinese scholars who, in the modernizing spirit of Western critical analysis, had transformed the conservative traditions of Confucian classical exegesis.

Early twentieth-century French Sinology

Édouard Chavannes (18651918) was the first to demonstrate the technical by combining amazingly encyclopedic interests with both philological rigor and humanistic sensitivity. More so than ever before Chavannes made use of native Chinese textual scholarship and emphasized the importance of linguistic and anthropological field experience in Asia (facilitated by the École Française d'Extrême-Orient, founded in Hanoi at the beginning of the century). Chavannes is particularly remembered for Mémoires historiques de Se Ma Tsien (18951905), his erudite partial translation of Sima Qian's Shiji. The elaborate annotations to this five-volume translation often constitute miniature dissertations on multifarious issues concerning ancient Chinese religion and testify to Chavannes's belief in the importance of religion to an understanding of early China. This belief is also seen in his work on the cultic foundations of archaic religion, Le dieu du sol dans la Chine antique (1910), and on the popular religious traditions associated with the sacred mountain Tai. Later works on religion included several studies of Buddhism, Buddhist folklore, and during his last years Daoist ritual.

The work of Chavannes's colleague and collaborator Sylvain Lévi (18631935) along with the even more impressive contributions of the Belgian scholar Louis de La Vallée Poussin (18691938) marked the emergence of a Franco-Belgian school of Buddhology. Concerned with the overall cultural context of Buddhist history, the school demanded philological training in all of the requisite canonical languages (Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, and Chinese). Along with its emphasis on the non-Pali Mahāyāna texts and commentaries associated with the East Asian tradition, the Franco-Belgian school distinguished itself from German and English scholarship by characteristically stressing the broad philosophical implications of Buddhist thought.

Cast in the mold of Chavannes but possessing even greater linguistic facility, bibliographical erudition, and breadth of interests was the peripatetic polymath Paul Pelliot (18781945). More intently than any of the other scholars of the period, Pelliot took as his mission the social, religious, and intellectual interrelationships of all of the Asian culturesespecially the rich historical interconnections between Central and East Asian traditions. Given this versatility, Pelliot produced a diverse stream of articles and reviews, many of which dealt with aspects of Chinese religious history that often broke with the old classical fixation. One of the most celebrated of Pelliot's accomplishments was his participation in the exploration and appropriation of the Dun-huang manuscripts during the years from 1907 to 1911. In terms of importance for understanding Chinese history and religion, the discovery of a cache of thousands of fragmented Buddhist texts (along with some rare Daoist and Confucian texts) dating from the fifth to the tenth centuries is comparable only to the archaeological recovery of the Shang dynasty in the 1920s and 1930s and the discovery of the Mawangdui burial deposit of early Han dynasty texts and artifacts in the 1970s.

Following in the grand tradition of Chavannes and Pelliot but making more significant methodological contributions to the study of Chinese religions were Marcel Granet (18841940) and Henri Maspero (18831945). Granet was the more methodologically innovative of the two in that his approach was couched within a broad sociological framework that often lent itself to venturesome speculation. From this perspective Granet, making use of the broadest assortment of textual materials from differing periods, attempted to reconstruct the social and religious life of ancient feudal China. Religious data of the most diverse sort, especially information relating to the archaic folk tradition, was crucial for Granet's understanding of Chinese civilization and resulted in a series of brilliant and sometimes overly intuitive interconnected studies on the cultic and folkloric implications of the Shi jing (Book of poetry), on the mythic and ritual structures at the heart of the feudal tradition of the Chou period, and on the overall religious and intellectual system (La religion des Chinois, 1922; and La pensée chinoise, 1934).

Maspero shared Granet's passion for a synthetic understanding of Chinese history and wrote with great technical mastery about a varied array of topics. Especially noteworthy for its methodological implications is Maspero's long monograph "Légendes mythologiques dans le 'Chou king'" in the Journal asiatique (1924). By making use of ethnographic data from Tai tribes to reconstruct ancient Chinese mythology and religion only partially preserved in early Chinese literature, Maspero showed that the classical "history" of the Shu-jing (Book of history) was fundamentally informed by myth and ritual themes. After 1926 Maspero began to explore the largely untapped history and meaning of religious Daoism. Anticipating and to some degree inspiring the broad interest in the overall Daoist tradition that would emerge in the 1960s, Maspero's work surveyed various aspects of sectarian Daoism and generally argued for a continuity between the mysticism of the early Daoist classics and the esoteric practices of the later religious tradition.

Continental and British scholarship before World War II

Besides the French contributions there were significant works by Scandinavian scholars (such as J. G. Andersson, M. W. de Visser, and Bernhard Karlgren) and by German scholars (such as Otto Franke, Adolph Forke, Bruno Schindler, August Conrady, Ernst Boerschmann, Eduard Erkes, and Carl Hentze). By far the greatest of these scholars was Karlgren, who is justly renowned for his work on the phonological development of the Chinese language as well as for his studies of archaic bronze iconography; also important was his long article "Legends and Cults in Ancient China" in the Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (1946). This article established strict historical criteria for the determination of authentic archaic mythology. In pointed contrast to Karlgren's approach was the work of Erkes and Hentze, which showed the impact of various comparativist schools of German anthropology. The most exaggerated and controversial example of the German influence is found in the work of Hentze. Based on his diffusionist comparisons with primitive cultures and early Mesoamerican civilizations, Hentze found an elaborate religious system of lunar symbolism in the zoomorphic and geometric glyphs on the bronze vessels of the Shang dynasty. Within German circles special mention must also be made of Max Weber and Richard Wilhelm. As a non-Sinologist, Weber admittedly based his work on China (see his The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism, translated by Hans H. Gerth, 1951) on secondhand information and was often ignored by specialists; nevertheless this work demonstrated the relevance of a comparative sociological method for understanding Chinese religions. The Sinologist Richard Wilhelm produced a number of influential studies and translations concerning classical philosophy and religion, but he is best known for his "scriptural" translation of the divinatory Yi jing. Through the enthusiastic patronage of Carl Jung, this work achieved a broad cultural following in Europe and North America during the 1960s and 1970s.

In England Legge's classically staid ruminations largely prevailed, although the works of William Soothill, L. C. Hopkins, Perceval Yetts, Herbert A. Giles, and Lionel Giles represent partial exceptions to the rule. It was really not until the maverick genius of Arthur Waley emerged that British scholarship rose above mere academic competence. Early American scholarship also tended to reflect the amateurish character and methodological narrowness of English Sinology. Outstanding, however, was the pioneering work on Daoist alchemy by the historian of science Tenney L. Davis and the anthropological studies of Chinese local culture and religion by Daniel Kulp and David Crockett Graham. Finally, Friedrich Hirth, Berthold Laufer, and Paul Carus should be mentioned as immigrant scholars whose work frequently dealt with religious topics. The most important of these figures was Laufer, whose erudition and synthetic abilities rivaled those of the French masters. His studies on ancient Chinese religion (e.g., Jade: A Study in Chinese Archaeology and Religion, 1912), which made brilliant use of comparative linguistics, archaeology, and ethnography are still valuable. In more of an ephemeral vein was the work of Paul Carus, who, besides bringing the famous Zen Buddhist scholar D. T. Suzuki to the United States, wrote a number of semipopular books on Daoism and Buddhism.

Prewar Japanese scholarship

In Japan the adoption of Western scholarly methods progressed more rapidly than in China. By the early Meiji period at the end of the nineteenth century the old Kangaku School of neo-Confucian scholarship had given way to various intellectual movements that emphasized a newly critical approach to classical Chinese civilization and its relation to Japanese tradition. A nationalistic cast often colored these fledgling adaptations of Western historiography, often combined with an element of Eastern Orientalism that typically relegated Chinese and Japanese religions to the margins of the historical process. At the same time Japanese philological and bibliographical mastery of Chinese sources and the newly engendered passion for a universal understanding of China independent of orthodox dynastic views established the foundations for a truly critical historiographical and social scientific appraisal of Chinese religions.

During the first few decades of the twentieth century Japanese works devoted to religious issues were generally few in number. Blandly bibliographical and descriptive in approach, they were usually confined to compartmentalized studies of textual filiation or to restricted sectarian aspects of Buddhist and Daoist history (particularly valuable were the descriptive surveys of Chinese and aboriginal religions on Taiwan conducted during the Japanese occupation). But by the 1920s and 1930s Japanese scholarship, while maintaining its superior talent for critical textual analysis, manifested more of a willingness to study the history of religions as an integral aspect of Chinese sociopolitical history. This new interpretive climate was signaled by the founding in 1936 of the Japanese Society for Historical Research on Chinese Buddhism, which brought together scholars interested in the history of Buddhism and Daoism as related to the larger institutional framework of Chinese tradition.

During this period Japanese scholars, especially in the area of Buddhology, started to engage in cooperative research, as is exemplified by the four-volume Hôbôgirin (19291931), the joint French-Japanese Buddhist encyclopedia project edited by Paul Demiéville under the supervision of Sylvain Lévi and Takakusu Junjiro. Another factor, which paralleled related developments in China, was the rise of the Japanese school of folklore studies under the tutelage of Yanagita Kunio. Concerned with anthropological and sociological methods of comparison that in this period often reflected German Kulturkreiselehre diffusionism, it is the Japanese folkloristic tradition of scholarship that constituted the foundation of the important Japanese participation, after World War II, in the history of religions as an international academic discipline of study.

Prewar Chinese scholarship

Given the greater degree of instability in Chinese political life, it is not surprising that a coherent, Western-style scholarship at first flourished more successfully in Japan than in China. The missionary experience had left many Chinese intellectuals acutely antagonistic toward the relevance of religion, whether Christian or traditional, in Chinese history; this attitude, coupled with the classical Confucian aloofness toward the "spirits" and the more modern secular implications of Western scholarly methods, resulted in a situation that was hardly conducive to the dispassionate study of Chinese religions. The eventual triumph of an officially atheistic, Marxist orthodoxy tended only to reinforce this prejudicial approach to the history of native religions.

In addition to such well-known figures as Liang Qichao and Hu Shi, who were imbued with Western notions of social Darwinism, a number of other prominent scholars were influenced by modern methodologies and made lasting, although sometimes rather indirect and polemical, contributions to the academic study of Chinese religions. Perhaps most important in terms of his iconoclastic impact on traditional Chinese historiography was Gu Jiegang. Gu was identified with the so-called Doubting Antiquity movement of the 1920s and 1930s, which produced the seven-volume Gushi bian (Critiques of ancient history, 19261941). This work signaled the end of the Confucian classical paradigm in historical and textual scholarship and remains in the early twenty-first century a storehouse of miscellaneous materials pertinent to the study of Chinese religion, mythology, and folk tradition. Along with articles and monographs published by the Yenching Journal of Chinese Studies and other periodicals influenced by Western social science, Gushi bian definitively established the relevance of ancient Chinese mythology and religion to an understanding of the foundations of the very classical tradition that denied them. In addition to his concern with ancient history, Gu also became involved in the analysis of modern popular tradition and religion through his relationship with the Folklore Studies movement, which appeared in South China in the late 1920s. Although its motivations were often more political than scholarly in nature, this loose group of scholars produced the first substantial scholarly collections of Chinese folk tales and songs and, drawing upon Arnold van Gennep's Durkheimian Le Folklore (1924), established the value of a folkloristic theory of culture for Chinese tradition.

Postwar to the present

The postwar years witnessed the growing dominance of social scientific methodologies and the establishment of specialized academic disciplines, departments, and area studiesespecially in American universities. As a result of these developments scholars abandoned the old ideal of Sinology as a holistic pursuit concerned primarily with classical language and literature; instead, the field splintered into particular subdisciplines that were defined in terms of various discrete historical periods and methodological perspectives. These developments moreover tended to reinforce the old devaluation of the history of Chinese religions because, as a part of the growing emphasis on modern and revolutionary China, it seemed self-evident that religion had little importance for understanding Communist China. In the study of Chinese tradition then the rational and secular presuppositions of Western academic scholarship and social scientific methodology were especially strengthened by a whole set of apparent verifications coming from the conflation of the classical Confucian, early-twentieth-century Chinese modernist, and Chinese Communist self-images.

Consequently from the 1940s to the 1950s the focused Sinological study of religion was at a low ebb. Yet these relatively quiescent years laid the foundations for the upsurge of interest in Chinese religions in the decades that followed. During this transition a loose international group of scholars often dealt with selected religious topics while maintaining something of the old notion of Sinology as a comprehensive discipline. These academics included the Americans Derk Bodde, H. G. Creel, Schuyler Cammann, Arthur Wright, Alexander Soper, and Wing-tsit Chan; those continuing the French tradition, such as Paul Demiéville, Rolf Stein, and Étienne Balasz; and other European and Asian scholars such as Arthur Waley, J. J. L. Duyvendak, Werner Eichhorn, R. H. van Gulik, and Fung Yu-lan.

A second category of scholars during this same period more directly inspired the kind of specialized approach to religion in terms of subject area and methodology that characterized the 1970s and 1980s. Thus Buddhist and Daoist scholars included Max Kaltenmark, Michel Soymié, Erwin Rousselle, and Erik Zürcher in Europe; Yanagida Seizan, Kimura Eiichi, Yoshioka Yoshitoyo, Tang Yongtong, and Chen Guofu in Asia; and Kenneth Ch'en, Richard Robinson, Walter Liebenthal, Arthur Link, and Holmes Welch in the United States. Lastly, some researchers studied popular and local tradition from novel social scientific perspectives: Francis L. K. Hsu, who examined village culture and ancestral religion from a social-psychological frame of reference, and Wolfram Eberhard, who studied traditional Chinese religion, mythology, morality, and folklore in relation to the sociocultural history of local cultures.

In the 1960s the overall climate concerning the relevance of religion to modern life and the general academic significance of the study of world religions changed in dramatic ways. For the first time the specialized study of Chinese religions became recognizable as a specific professional focus for scholars working in different academic disciplines. This was a gradual, largely unconscious development throughout most of that decade and the next, but by 1974 public acknowledgment came in the form of the founding of the international Society for the Study of Chinese Religions by three American scholars: Holmes Welch, Daniel Overmyer, and Laurence Thompson.

Although the overt emergence of the study of Chinese religions as a field of concentration occurred in the 1970s, several earlier formative developments deserve note. One of these was the appearance of C. K. Yang's Religion in Chinese Society (1961), which applied a neo-Weberian sociological analysis to Chinese tradition and, arguing against prevailing attitudes, showed the intrinsic significance of religion within even the Confucian milieu of the "great tradition." Even more important for its grand compass, international impact, and interdisciplinary implications was the publication of the first few volumes of Joseph Needham's monumental and still appearing Science and Civilisation in China (1954). Volume 2, which discusses Daoism as a part of the "history of Chinese science," was particularly important. First published in 1956, it did not really capture scholarly attention until the 1960s.

The interest in Daoism stimulated by Needham was also complemented by the work being done in the 1960s on the living liturgical traditions of sectarian Daoism in Taiwan by Kristofer Schipper, a Paris-trained scholar and the first Westerner to be initiated as a Daoist priest. Schipper's revolutionary fieldworkalong with the work of Needham, Nathan Sivin, and others who had been working on Daoist traditionculminated in the first international conference on Daoist studies, held in Italy in 1968. This event was doubly significant. It not only signaled the rapid development of Daoist studies, which continues in the early twenty-first century, but alsoas is shown by the presence of the Romanian-born American religious scholar Mircea Eliade at the conference and by the publication of the conference papers in the journal History of Religions marked the emergence of a new spirit of cooperation between scholars of Chinese religions and those working in the comparative history of world religions, a discipline previously preoccupied with primitive and Indo-European traditions. This kind of collaborative approach was ratified by the establishment of the Society for the Study of Chinese Religions and tends to characterize the interdisciplinary range of articles on Chinese religion found currently in older, established journals in Sinology and in comparative religion, folklore, and philosophy as well as in several specialized journals started in the 1970s and 1980s (such as Journal of Chinese Religions, Journal of Chinese Philosophy, Early China, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies ).

In the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century a veritable flood of outstanding scholarship concerning Chinese religions has led to the rejection of many outdated assumptions about Chinese civilization. Fortunately this scholarly enterprise is also on the verge of becoming fully international in scope. Besides the continuing contributions of Japanese scholarship and the efforts of Chinese scholars in Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, the mainland Chinese Academy of Sciences and its affiliated Institute for Research on World Religions have been revitalized.

Trends in Sinology

Five areas may be singled out for their prominence in research in the early twenty-first century. The first concerns the archaic religion of ancient China. Continuing work on received texts, including oracle bone and bronze inscriptions, as well as the archaeological discovery of original and in many cases previously unknown texts has revolutionized this field of study. Japanese scholars like Akatsuka Kiyoshi, Ito Michiharu, and Shirakawa Shizuka combined traditional paleographic skills with anthropological and sociological insights to reenvision ancient China as a land where religious concerns were paramount. In an insightful series of studies David Keightley has applied a stricter methodology to reconstruct the mentality of the Shang, finding there the origin of Chinese bureaucracy and much of the later Chinese religious outlook. New bronze inscriptions have also transformed scholars' understanding of the Western Zhou. Jessica Rawson has drawn on inscriptions and material remains to delineate a ritual reform in the mid-Western Zhou, and Lothar von Falkenhausen has combined inscriptional and textual evidence to reassess the shamanic tradition in ancient China and its possible ties to later Daoism.

Turning to excavated manuscripts of the Warring States period, the discovery of Mawangdui in 1973 was followed rapidly by major troves of texts from Shuihudi, Baoshan, and Guodian. The philosophical works in these tombs attracted immediate attention from scholars like Ikeda Tomohisa, Robert Henricks, William Boltz, and Robin Yates. The more surprising element in these tombs was a genre of technical literature, including divinatory and medical texts, that, though common at the time, was not transmitted to later generations. Jao Tsung-I (Rao Zongyi), Li Ling, Mu-chou Poo, Mark Kalinowski, and Donald Harper have done groundbreaking work in this area. Grave goods and other material remains from this period, like jade suits and funereal banners, as well as Han funerary documents, like grave-quelling texts and land contracts, are also important reflections of Warring States religious belief and have been studied by Ikeda On, Anna Seidel, and Michael Loewe.

The second major area of research is China's indigenous organized religion, Daoism. Early scholarship in this field centered on Japan and Paris, with the studies of Yoshioka Yoshitoyo, Ōfuchi Ninji, Miyakawa Hisayuki, and Kubo Noritada leading the way for Rolf A. Stein, Kristofer Schipper, Anna Seidel, Isabelle Robinet, and Michel Strickmann. The primary focus of these scholars, with the exception of Kubo, was the early pre-Tang period of Daoist history. The next generation took these studies further, focusing on the early Celestial Master church (Angelika Cedzich, Stephen Bokenkamp, Terry Kleeman), the Taipingjing (Barbara Hendrischke, Jens O. Petersen), the system of precepts and monastic regulations (Benjamin Penny, Livia Kohn), fourth- and fifth-century reformation movements within Daoism (Yamada Toshiaki, Kobayashi Masayoshi, Kamitsuka Yoshiko), Daoism's relationship to popular cults (Peter Nickerson, Lai Chi Tim), and hagiography (Robert Campany). The Tang has still received little attention, with most of that focused on the small coterie of Daoists at court (T. H. Barrett, Russell Kirkland), but studies of Song Daoism have flourished with important studies of Song scriptural sources (Piet van der Loon, Judith Boltz), the Quanzhen movement (Hachiya Kunio, Mori Yuria, Stephen Eskildsen, Vincent Goossaert), internal alchemy (Fabrizio Pregadio, Lowell Skar), and ecstatic religion (Edward L. Davis). Daoism in late imperial China remains largely unexplored, but the important work of Kenneth Dean seeks to link modern practice to Qing and earlier antecedents, and scholars like Li Fengmao, Maruyama Hiroshi, Shiga Ichiko, and Asano Haruji bring a command of canonical sources to their fieldwork on living practitioners. Important developments in the field include the first major exhibition of Daoist art, organized by Stephen Little; the publication of the Daoist Handbook, edited by Livia Kohn; the publication of the Encyclopedia of Taoism, edited by Fabrizio Pregadio; and the publication of Kristofer Schipper and Franciscus Verellen's annotated catalog of the Daoist canon.

A third major field of inquiry has been Buddhism. Early Western research focused on the transmission of Buddhism to China and the early schools (Erik Zürcher, Leon Hurvitz, Arthur Link, Lewis Lancaster), but a younger generation, raised on Alan Watts and often practicing Buddhists themselves, has given Chan studies pride of place in Western Buddhology. The influence of Yanagida Seizan is felt through students like Peter Gregory, John McRae, and Bernard Faure, but other scholars have questioned the influence of Japanese sectarian scholarship on the early history of Chan (Griffith Foulk) and on the idea of schools as an important element of Chinese Buddhism (Robert Sharf). Philologically based doctrinal scholarship continues, particularly with regard to Yogācāra (Daniel Lusthaus) and Huayan (Robert Gimello, Daniel B. Stevenson), but much interest has shifted to apocryphal scriptures (Robert Buswell, Kyoko Tokuno) and the influence of Tantric texts and practices in China (Michel Strickmann, Iyanaga Nobumi, Charles Orzech). One important trend of research has been to look at Buddhism within Chinese society. Chikusa Masaaki's studies of Song Buddhism and sectarian movements were followed by Stephen Teiser's studies of the Ghost Festival and mortuary ritual, Victor Mair's works on Dunhuang popular literature and the use of images in popular preaching, John Kieschnick's exploration of Buddhism's influence on Chinese material culture, and Timothy Brook's study of Buddhism in late imperial society. Buddhist art and architecture have provided another point of access to lived Buddhism for scholars like Marsha Weidner, Angela Howard, and Nancy Steinhardt. Chinese scholarship on Buddhism since Tang Yongtong has been constrained by political factors, but the late twentieth century saw the emergence of major scholars like Yang Cengwen, Wei Daoru, and Sun Changwu. Finally, Buddhism is also a vibrant living religion, and the work of Charles B. Jones and others has shed light on modern developments like the belief in a "human Pure Land" (renjian jingtu ).

A fourth area of interest in the field of Chinese religions centers on the sectarian societies of later imperial and modern China. Pioneering work on these groups by Li Shiyu, Sawada Mizuho, and Marjorie Topley was followed by the substantial historical studies of Daniel Overmyer and Susan Naquin, but Barend ter Haar has shown the need for great care in using external accounts of such groups. Song Guangyu and David Jordan deserve special mention for their work on Yiguandao. Although these groups were initially identified as "folk Buddhism," many self-identify as Daoist; Philip Clart has dubbed these movements "maternist" because of their shared focus on the Unborn Venerable Mother (Wusheng laomu) as supreme deity, and he argues forcefully for spirit writing groups as self-cognizant modern Confucians. Whatever nomenclature is ultimately adopted, studies make clear that these are organized religious movements quite distinct from both the community-based common religion and the institutionalized religions of Buddhism and Daoism. Some are comparable in size and history to Protestant Christian denominations, have a distinct theology and canon, and deserve greater recognition and study.

The fifth major area of interest is the mass of traditional beliefs, practices, and observances that is sometimes dismissed as popular superstition; this compendium is now understood to be a distinct religion, the Chinese common religion, and to be an essential element of Chinese society from its earliest times to the present. The primary manifestation of this religion is the worship of deities in periodic and occasional observances involving communal ritual performance. Detailed synchronic and diachronic studies have appeared of specific deities, like Mazu (Li Xianzhang), Guanyin (Chün-fang Yu), Guandi (Prasenjit Duara, Barend ter Haar), Wenchang (Terry Kleeman), Xuanwu Zhenwu (Pierre-Henry deBruyn), Lü Dongbin (Isabelle Ang, Paul Katz), Linji (Meir Shahar), Wutong (Angelika Cedzich, Richard von Glahn), and the Stove God (Robert Chard). Anthropology has always been an important source of information on Chinese religious life, and the fieldwork of scholars like Gary Seaman, Stephan Feuchtwang, William Watson, David Jordan, and Stevan Harrell have greatly expanded the understanding of the role of religious observances in daily life. The emergence of a corps of foreign-trained native anthropologists, like Yih-yuan Li, Mei-rong Lin, and Hsun Chang, has led to more detailed studies focused specifically on religion and to indigenous analytical concepts like the "sacrificial circle" (jisiquan ) and "belief circle" (xinyang quan ).

Modernity has not been kind to Chinese religion, which has suffered persecutions beginning with the Taiping Revolution and carrying through the Republican New Life Movement and the Cultural Revolution. Nonetheless much of traditional practice has survived or been revived, and there is an active program of rescue ethnography trying to document the local Chinese religious world. The Minsu quyi (Folklore and performing arts) series edited by C. K. Wang has preserved a large body of local ritual drama. John Lagerway and Tam Wai-lun have mounted a massive project to document religious life in South China villages, concentrating on Hakka areas of Guangdong and Fujian; Daniel Overmyer is organizing a similar project for North China. Opening up of the mainland has also permitted the first in-depth studies of local religion (Xiaofei Kang, Thomas DuBois). This local material, once accumulated in sufficient detail, will inevitably enrich and transform the understanding of Chinese religions.

Finally, something must be said about the phenomenal rise of the Falun Gong movement. Within the course of a single decade, this organization became the largest and fastest-growing of the world's new religions. The religious character of the Falun Gong is evident to any student of Chinese religions despite the disavowals of its members, but it is a unique organization, drawing institutionally on both the tradition of Chinese secret societies and the organizational principles of the Chinese Communist Party. For several years it has been the object of a sustained program of religious suppression unparalleled in scope since the Inquisition. Although a few Sinologists have published on this topic (notably David Ownby), this new and successful form of Chinese religious organization has to date largely escaped the notice of the field.

See Also

Confucianism, article on History of Study; Daoism, article on History of Study; Granet, Marcel; Jesuits; Ricci, Matteo.


Bibliographical Sources

The most important bibliographic resources for Chinese religions are the ongoing series of bibliographies compiled by Laurence G. Thompson and his colleagues, Lin Meirong's bibliography of primarily Chinese-language sources, and the online bibliography on Chinese popular religion edited by Philip Clart.

Clart, Philip. "Bibliography of Western Language Publications on Chinese Popular Religion (1995 to Present)." Available from

Cohen, Alvin P. "A Bibliography of Writings Contributory to the Study of Chinese Folk Religions." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 43 (1975): 238265.

Cordier, Henri. Bibliotheca Sinica. 5 vols. Paris, 19041924.

Lin, Meirong. Taiwan min jian xin yang yan jiu shu mu. 2d ed., rev. Taipei, Taiwan, 1997.

Marceron, Désiré. Bibliographie du taoïsme. Paris, 1898.

Pas, Julian F. A Select Bibliography on Taoism. Stony Brook, N.Y., 1988.

Pfister, Louis. Notices biographiques et bibliographiques sur les jésuites de l'ancienne mission de Chine, 1552 1773. 2 vols. Shanghai, 19321934.

Seaman, Gary, ed. Chinese Religion: Publications in Western Languages, 1981 through 1990. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1993.

Seaman, Gary, and Zhifang Song. Chinese Religions: Publications in Western Languages, vol. 3: 1991 1995. Edited by Gary Seaman. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1998.

Seaman, Gary, and Zhifang Song. Chinese Religions: Publications in Western Languages, vol. 4: 1996 2000. Edited by Gary Seaman. Ann Arbor, Mich., 2002.

Thompson, Laurence G. Chinese Religion in Western Languages: A Comprehensive and Classified Bibliography of Publications in English, French, and German through 1980. Tucson, Ariz., 1984.

General Historical Studies and Early Period

The various specialized studies of Sinology or the study of Chinese religions include the following.

Brear, Douglas. "Early Assumptions in Western Buddhist Studies." Religion 5 (Autumn 1975): 136157.

Dehergne, Joseph. "Les historiens jésuites du taoïsme." In Actes du Colloque International de Sinologie: La mission française de Pékin aux dix-septième et dix-huitème siècles, pp. 5967. Paris, 1976.

Demiéville, Paul. "Aperçu historique des études sinologiques en France." Acta Asiatica 11 (1966): 56110.

Girardot, N. J. "Chinese Religion and Western Scholarship." In China and Christianity, edited by James D. Whitehead et al., pp. 83111. Notre Dame, Ind., 1979.

Honey, David B. Incense at the Altar: Pioneering Sinologists and the Development of Classical Chinese Philology. New Haven, Conn., 2001.

Lach, Donald F. Asia in the Making of Europe. 4 vols. Chicago, 19651977.

Lancashire, D. "Buddhist Reaction to Christianity in Late Ming China." Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia 6 (19681969): 82103.

Maspero, Henri. "La sinologie." In Société asiatique: Le livre du centenaire, 1822 1922, pp. 261283. Paris, 1922.

Pinot, Virgile. La Chine et la formation de l'esprit philosophique en France, 1640 1740. Paris, 1932.

Rule, Paul A. "Jesuit and Confucian? Chinese Religion in Journals of Matteo Ricci, S. J., 15831610." Journal of Religious History 5 (December 1968): 105124.

Soymié, Michel. "Les études chinoises." Journal asiatique 261 (1973): 209246.

Spence, Jonathan D. The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci. New York, 1984.

Sprenkel, Otto Berkelback van der. "Western Sources." In Essays on the Source for Chinese History, edited by Donald D. Leslie, Colin Mackerras, and Wang Gungwu, pp. 154175. Columbia, S.C., 1973.

Thompson, Laurence G. "American Sinology, 18301920: A Bibliographical Survey." Tsing-hua Journal of Chinese Studies 2, no. 2 (June 1961): 244290.

Young, John D. Confucianism and Christianity: The First Encounter. Hong Kong, 1983.

Modern Period Studies

The following works include helpful discussions of particular aspects of historical and intellectual developments in China in the twentieth century.

Barrett, T. H. "Change and Progress in Understanding Chinese Religion." Numen 29 (December 1982): 239249.

Barrett, T. H. Singular Listlessness: A Short History of Chinese Books and British Scholars. London, 1989.

Ch'en Yao-shen and Paul S. Y. Hsiao. Sinology in the United Kingdom and Germany. Translated by William W. G. Wan and T. W. Kwok. Honolulu, 1967.

Demiéville, Paul. "Henri Maspero et l'avenir des études chinoises." T'oung pao 38 (1947): 1642.

Eberhard, Wolfram. "Studies in Chinese Religions: 19201932." In Moral and Social Values of the Chinese: Collected Essays, pp. 335399. Taipei, 1971.

Eliasberg, Danielle. "Maspero: L'histoire de la religion populaire chinoise." In Hommage à Henri Maspero, 1883 1945, pp. 5560. Paris, 1983.

Franke, Herbert. Sinologie An Deutschen Universitäten. Wiesbaden, Germany, 1968.

Freedman, Maurice. "On the Sociological Study of Chinese Religion." In Religion and Ritual in Chinese Society, edited by Arthur A. Wolf, pp. 1941. Stanford, Calif., 1974.

Honey, David B. "The Foundation of Modern German Sinology." Phi Theta Papers, 1984, 82101.

Jong, J. W. de. "A Brief History of Buddhist Studies in Europe and America." Eastern Buddhist, n.s. 7, no. 1 (May 1974): 55106, no. 2 (October 1974): 4982.

Kaltenmark, Max. "Henri Maspero et les études taoïstes." In Hommage à Henri Maspero, 1883 1945, pp. 4548. Paris, 1983.

Lagerwey, John. "Questions of Vocabulary; or, How Shall We Talk about Chinese Religion?" In Daojiao yu minjian zongjiao yanjiu lunji, edited by Lai Chi Tim, pp. 166181. Hong Kong, 1999.

Lalou, Marcelle. "Onze années de travaux européens sur le bouddhisme (mai 1936mai 1947)." Museon 61 (1948): 245276.

Maspero, Henri. "Édouard Chavannes." T'oung pao 21 (1922): 4356.

Nakamura Hajime. "A Survey of Mahāyāna Buddhism with Bibliographical Notes." Journal of Intercultural Studies 3 (1976): 60145, 4 (1977): 77135, 5 (1978): 89138.

Overmyer, Daniel L., ed. Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei, 2002.

Peiris, William. The Western Contribution to Buddhism. Delhi, 1973.

Strickmann, Michel. "History, Anthropology, and Chinese Religion." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 40 (June 1980): 201248.

Wright, Arthur F. "The Study of Chinese Civilization." Journal of the History of Ideas 21 (1960): 232255.

Yu, David C. "Present-Day Taoist Studies." Religious Studies Review 3 (October 1977): 220239.

East Asian Scholarship

Useful studies of East Asian scholarship include the following:

Beasley, W. G., and E. G. Pulleyblank, eds. Historians of China and Japan. London, 1961.

Fogel, Joshua A. Politics and Sinology: The Case of Naito Konan (18661934). Cambridge, Mass., 1984.

Goto Kimpei. "Studies in Chinese Religion in Postwar Japan." Monumenta Serica 15 (1956): 463511.

Jan Yün-hua. "The Religious Situation and the Studies of Buddhism and Taoism in China: An Incomplete and Imbalanced Picture." Journal of Chinese Religions 12 (Fall 1984): 3764.

Overmyer, Daniel L. "From 'Feudal Superstition' to 'Popular Beliefs': New Directions in Mainland Chinese Studies of Chinese Popular Religion." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 12 (2001): 103126.

Sakai Tadao, and Noguchi Tetsuro. "Taoist Studies in Japan." In Facets of Taoism, edited by Holmes Welch and Anna Seidel, pp. 269287. New Haven, Conn. 1979.

Schneider, Laurence A. Ku Chieh-kang and China's New History. Berkeley, Calif., 1971.

Norman J. Girardot (1987)

Terry F. Kleeman (2005)

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