Author: Chloë STARR, Associate Professor, Yale University Divinity Scoool, U. S. A.
Recent scholars working in Sino-Christian theology have been rather dismissive or critical of Republican era theologians, arguing that they were too concerned with Confucian values and reading patterns, and not concerned enough with the realities of war-torn China. This paper argues that the experience of Republican-era thinkers and their reading of both the bible and western theology is of great relevance for contemporary Chinese Christian studies. A comparison of Zhao Zichen’s Life of Jesus and Wu Leichuan’s Christianity and Chinese Culture shows just how familiar their questions were—how central the fate of the nation and the relation of culture to state was to contemporary thinkers, for example—and how traditional scholarship could be marshalled to very different ends by two different writers. In comparing and contrasting the reading of jing by these two well-known Republican-era theologians, the paper explores anew how the Chinese classics informed their model of Bible reading, and also suggests ways in which what they were doing in the 1930s prefigures a Chinese version of “Scriptural Reasoning” as advocated by Yang Huilin, You Bin and others.
Wu Leichuan, Zhao Zichen, Republican-era theology, biblical interpretation, contextual hermeneutics
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