The Luminous Way to the East: Texts and History of the First Encounter of Christianity with China

ISBN : 9780197609644

Matteo Nicolini-Zani
408 ページ
156 x 235 mm

The Luminous Way to the East offers a comprehensive survey of the historical, literary, epigraphic, and archaeological sources of the first stage of the Christian mission to China. It explores the complex and multifaceted process of the interaction with the different cultural and religious milieux that the Church of the East experienced in its diffusion throughout Central Asia and into China during the first millennium. Matteo Nicolini-Zani provides an overview of the Christian presence in China during the Tang dynasty (618-907) by reconstructing the composition and organization of Christian communities, the geographical location of Christian monasteries, and the related historical events attested by the sources. Through a new and richly annotated English translation of the Chinese Christian texts produced in Tang China, the volume provides a documented look at what was the earliest, and perhaps the most extraordinary, encounter of Christianity with Chinese culture and religions (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism). It shows how East Syriac Christianity in its eastward expansion along the Silk Road from Persia to China was open to the adoption of other languages and imagery and was able to enculturate the Christian teaching into new cultural and religious forms without losing its identity.


PART ONE: A History of Encounters
The Luminous Breeze Blew Eastward: The Church of the East from Persia to China
The Brilliant Teaching Turned toward the Tang Empire: The Christian Presence in China between 635 and 845
The Scriptures Were Translated: The First Christian Texts in Chinese
PART TWO: The Texts in Translation
Notes on Sources
Text A: Stele of the Diffusion of the Luminous Teaching of Da Qin in China
Text B: Hymn in Praise of the Salvation Achieved through the Three Majesties of the Luminous Teaching and Book of the Honored
Text C: Discourse on the One God
Text D: Book of the Lord Messiah
Text E: Book on Profound and Mysterious Blessedness
Text F: Book of the Luminous Teaching of Da Qin on Unveiling the Origin and Attaining the Foundation
Index of Names, Texts, and Manuscripts


Matteo Nicolini-Zani is a Catholic monk of the ecumenical Monastic Community of Bose, Italy, and a sinologist. As an independent scholar, he conducts historical and literary research on Christianity in China. He is the author of Christian Monks on Chinese Soil: A History of Monastic Missions to China.