1st Edition

Parallel Lives, Congenial Visions Christian Precursors of Modernity in China and Japan

By Leopold Leeb Copyright 2024
    294 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book introduces the history of cultural exchanges between East Asia and the West through comparative biographical sketches of sixty personalities from China and Japan. These sketches illustrate how both countries, starting from a shared cultural heritage in script and Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist worldviews, took rather different approaches in their encounters with the European world since the 16th to 17th centuries. In particular in the 19th century under external and internal pressure, both nations strove to modernize their societies by introducing technology and new ideas from the Western world, turning them into political rivals and even enemies. Thus, these biographical sketches also shed some light on the general dynamics of cross-cultural interactions between China, Japan, and the West up to the early 20th century.

    The Chinese and Japanese men and women presented in this book are outstanding personalities who tried to open up the road to international relationships, pioneers in their respective domains who introduced Western culture to their nations, precursors who strove for modernization, e.g., in the fields of translation, education, medicine, media, and social welfare. They testify to individual agency in these cross-cultural exchanges. Many of those who tried to be “cultural bridge-builders” since the 16th century were Christians, simply because the missionaries, who worked hard to learn the native languages of China and Japan, were the first to introduce new cultural elements to these countries. The universal scope and vision of the Christian faith enabled both missionaries and native believers to overcome narrow nationalism or xenophobia and turned them into cross-cultural mediators.

    Preface by He Guanghu

    Preface by Muraoka Takamitsu

    Preface by the Author


    Chapter One: The Trailblazers’ Guides: Anjirō (ca. 1520–1565) and Zhong Mingren (1562–1621)

    Chapter Two: The First Translators of European Texts: Yohoken (ca. 1510–1596) and Xu Ruohan

    (ca. 1670–1740) 9

    Chapter Three: Noble Promoters of Military Reforms: Ōtomo Sōrin (1530–1587) and Xu Guangqi


    Chapter Four: “Grace” and “Brilliance”: Hosokawa Garasha (1563–1600) and Candida Xu


    Chapter Five: Pioneers of Comparative Philosophy: Fukansai (1565–1621) and Yang Tingyun

    (ca. 1557–1628)

    Chapter Six: The First Native Priests: Kimura (1565–1622) and Luo Wenzao (1617–1691)

    Chapter Seven: The First Travelers to Europe: Itō Mancio (1569–1612) and Zheng Manuo


    Chapter Eight: Precursors of the Internationalization of the Script: Dourado (1567–1620) and

    Wang Zheng (1571–1644)

    Chapter Nine: The First Editors of Bilingual Dictionaries: Martin Hara (1568–1629) and

    Huang Risheng (1679–1716)

    Chapter Ten: The Earliest Celebrities in Europe: Hasekura Tsunenaga (1571–1622) and

    Shen Fuzong (ca. 1658–1692)

    Chapter Eleven: Western Art in the East: Jacobus Niva (Ni Yagu, 1579–1638) and You Wenhui


    Chapter Twelve: Hope of the Suppressed: Amakusa Shirō (1622–1638) and Wang Maria

    (ca. 1855–1900)

    Chapter Thirteen: Interrogation of a Messenger from the West: Arai Hakuseki (1657–1725) and

    Kangxi (r. 1662–1722)

    Chapter Fourteen: Early Students of Western Medicine: Gao Leisi (1732–1795), Yang Dewang

    (1733–1798), and Sugita Genpaku (1733–1817)

    Chapter Fifteen: The First Teachers of Western Languages: Ogata Kōan (1810–1863) and Xue Madou

    (ca. 1780–1860)

    Chapter Sixteen: Organizers of Modern Media: Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835–1901) and Ying Lianzhi


    Chapter Seventeen: Creators of Universities: Yan Yongjing (1838–1898) and Niijima Jō


    Chapter Eighteen: Entrepreneurs and Philanthropists: Shibusawa Eiichi (1840–1931) and Lu Bohong


    Chapter Nineteen: The First Female Physicians: Ogino Ginko (1851–1913) and Jin Yamei (1864–1934) 135

    Chapter Twenty: Pioneers of Women’s Education: Tsuda Umeko (1864–1929) and Zeng Baosun


    Chapter Twenty-One: Faith on the Way to Inculturation: Uemura Masahisa (1858–1925) and Zhao Zichen

    (T.C. Chao, 1888–1979)

    Chapter Twenty-Two: Fathers of Constitutional Law: Ume Kenjirō (1860–1910) and Wu Jingxiong


    Chapter Twenty-Three: Creators of an Image of the East: Nitobe Inazō (1862–1933) and Gu Hongming


    Chapter Twenty-Four: Independent Prophets: Uchimura Kanzō (1861–1930) and Wang Mingdao


    Chapter Twenty-Five: Pioneers in the Study of History: Saeki Yoshirō (1871–1965) and Chen Yuan


    Chapter Twenty-Six: The First Students of Classical Hebrew: Kotsuji Setsuzō (1887–1965) and

    Li Rongfang (1899–1973)

    Chapter Twenty-Seven: Indigenization of Christian Art: Chen Yuandu (1903–1967) and Watanabe Sadao


    Chapter Twenty-Eight: A Life for the Poor: Wu Yongbo (1916–2002) and Kitahara Satoko (1929–1958)

    Conclusion: Two Nations on the Way to Modernity



    Leopold Leeb studied philosophy and theology in Mödling (near Vienna) and Chinese philosophy at Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei, and at Beijing University. He received his Ph.D. from the latter with a dissertation on the Han dynasty mathematician, astronomer and writer Zhang Heng. From 1999 till 2004 he worked as a researcher and translator at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Since 2004 he is professor at Renmin University, Beijing, where he teaches Latin, Ancient Greek, Ancient Hebrew, and the history of Western literature. His research also focuses on the history of Christianity in China. He has published widely in China, among others an introduction to the language and thought of the Bible, language courses in Latin, Latin dictionaries, a dictionary on Chinese theology and the series “English-Chinese Summaries of Western Classics,” of which volume 5 has been published 2020. Recently, he published the monograph One Dragon, Two Doves: A Comparative History of the Catholic Church in China and in Vietnam (2022).