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Reading Christian Scriptures in China [Hardcover]

By Chloe Starr (Editor)
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This volume sets out to examine how Christian scriptures have been read within a Chinese reading tradition, and to assess what questions such readings pose for both theologians and Chinese studies specialists. The absence to date of publications on the topic, and the scattered nature of such research and of scholars in the field makes this an important contribution to debate. The volume gathers essays from Biblical studies experts together with theologians and Chinese text scholars to discuss the interdisciplinary questions raised. Essays from mainland, Taiwanese and diasporic Chinese scholars ensure that a range of opinions (including those reflecting fault lines between 'academic' and 'confessional' positions) are presented. Within the four sections of the volume, several papers discuss and correct the current lineage of historical readings, while others study the historical impact of the Bible in Chinese society. Four essays give contextual or cross-cultural readings, with a focus on individual exegetes, mainly from the early twentieth century. The power of performance is raised in two essays, one comparative paper on Christian and Buddhist scriptures from the Qing dynasty and one on the singing of psalms in modern day Taiwan and Macao. Moral questions preoccupy others, including the challenges that early Chinese converts found in Biblical laws or Christian guidance on concubinage, and extrincisist readings of the Sermon on the Mount.>

Citations And Professional Reviews
Reading Christian Scriptures in China by Chloe Starr has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Reference and Research Bk News - 08/01/2008 page 23

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Item Specifications...

Studio: T & T Clark International
Pages   229
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.49" Width: 6.38" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   1.12 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 2, 2008
Publisher   T & T Clark International
ISBN  0567032922  
ISBN13  9780567032928  

Availability  0 units.

More About Chloe Starr

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Dr. Chloe Starr is Associate Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Oxford (UK) and a Departmental Lecturer in Classical Chinese in the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, UK.

Chloe Starr has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Oxford, UK.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Hermeneutics

Reviews - What do customers think about Reading Christian Scriptures in China?

A Wealth of Information & Insight  Sep 5, 2008
Chloe Starr, ed., Reading Christian Scriptures in China. London & New York: T & T Clark, 2008.*

We are all aware that Christianity, especially Protestantism, has grown at an astonishing rate in China over the past few decades, and that believers can be found among all strata of society, from the rural peasant to the university professor. What we may not know so well is how the Bible has been read and understood by Chinese.

Since the Bible serves as the main source of Christian doctrine, the nature of its reception, interpretation and influence must be understood in order for us to comprehend the varying streams of Chinese Christian faith and practice and the different responses to Christianity among non-Christians.

Despite the very modest aims and claims of the editor, this volume provides a great deal of information and insight in a dozen well-written essays preceded by a splendid introduction.

As Dr. Starr writes, because of China's millennia-long history of interpreting sacred texts, "we cannot read pre-twentieth century Chinese responses to Scripture without some understanding of the framework of imperial scholarship." The interplay of classical and biblical texts forms a prominent - and fascinating - theme in this book. Other factors influenced the way Chinese read the Bible also, notably the history of Western biblical interpretation and application that came with the translations of the Bible.

These essays also explore the tensions between "traditional Chinese heritage and scriptural mores [ethical norms]," and those "between personal and individual readings and institutional or academic ones." Readers before 1949 concentrated on the former of these, while the latter have been more pronounced under the communist regime.

A further distinction must be made within contemporary readings of the Bible in China: That between the more "literal" and the more "liberal" - the first representing the unregistered churches and the second the official state-sanctioned bodies, especially the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement, or at least its leaders.

Attention to such complexities makes this book especially valuable. Indeed, as Dr. Starr states, we do learn a bit about both Christian and secular history as we watch how Chinese have responded to the Christian Scriptures over the past two hundred years.

Part 1, The Bible in China "looks at the history of readings through to the present and of contextual settings of the Bible in China, while Part 2 focuses on hermeneutics, presenting case-studies of individual Chinese biblical exegetes and their approaches to reading."

The only major deficiency in this otherwise excellent volume is hinted at in the editor's introduction: There are only a few references to the very extensive corpus of high-level biblical studies among Chinese Christians in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and North America. Several dozen of these scholars have engaged in robust studies; a number of them - and more of their publications - have exercised influence in China proper, and should therefore be considered a part of the "Reading of Christian Scriptures in China." As Dr. Starr admits, their "reading practices... offer a counterbalance to mainland trajectories, and open up avenues for comparative research."

That being said, the contents of this collection are already sufficiently rich, with each chapter contributing substantially to our understanding of the reception of the Bible in China. As the back cover says, it is "wonderfully informative."

Perhaps the most striking contribution of Reading Christian Scriptures in China is the variety of perspectives it gives us to glimpse the powerful - one might even say determinative - role which their cultural and social context has played in the understanding of the Bible by Chinese.

These studies are so valuable, in fact, that the book may be considered required reading for anyone wanting to understand Christianity in China, both past and present.*

G. Wright Doyle.
Global China Center

* For a more detailed treatment of this book, go to
God and Caesar in China: Policy Implications of Church-State TensionsChristianity in China: From the Eighteenth Century to the PresentJesus in Beijing - Revised and updated


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