The Jesuit Reading of Confucius: The First Complete Translation of the Lunyu (1687) Published in the West (Jesuit Studies, Volume 3)

The Jesuit Reading of Confucius: The First Complete Translation of the Lunyu (1687) Published in the West (Jesuit Studies, Volume 3)

Thierry Meynard

Language: English

Pages: 685

ISBN: 9004289771

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The very name of Confucius is a constant reminder that the “foremost sage” in China was first known in the West through Latin works. The most influential of these was the Confucius Sinarum Philosophus (Confucius, the Philosopher of China), published in Paris in 1687. For more than two hundred years, Western intellectuals like Leibniz and Voltaire read and meditated on the sayings of Confucius from this Latin version.

Thierry Meynard examines the intellectual background of the Jesuits in China and their thought processes in coming to understand the Confucian tradition. He presents a trilingual edition of the Lunyu, including the Chinese text, the Latin translation of the Lunyu and its commentaries, and their rendition in modern English, with notes.




















The commentaries necessarily reflected the official reading and could not deviate too much from the standard interpretations. When the Jesuits read the Sishu zhijie, they seem to have been unaware of the collective dimension of the commentaries, and they have read them as reflecting the thought of Zhang alone. However, while the commentaries should be attributed to Zhang since he was ultimately responsible for their content, he also collaborated with other literati in composing them. The Sishu

Confucius was received for the first time in the West. I The Genesis of the Sinarum Philosophus and its Prototypes By the end of the seventeenth century, a few missionaries had attempted to publish a Latin translation of the canonical books of Confucianism, the Four Books (i.e., Daxue, Zhongyong, Lunyu, and Mencius 孟子), but none succeeded. Between 1660 and 1661, a translation team of four young Jesuit companions was formed, and one of them, Philippe Couplet (1623–93), finally succeeded in

already embraced the Christian faith. Second, if Confucius came back today, he would certainly embrace Christianity himself. In the Sinarum Philosophus: Confucius as a Political Model Just after the preface of the Sinarum Philosophus, Couplet inserted “The Life of Confucius, Prince of the Chinese Philosophers” (Philosophorum Sinensium principis Confucii vita). Couplet also made a few important additions. For example, he calculated that from the time of Confucius up to 1687, there existed

represented events in the life of Confucius and his disciples. Only with the influence of Buddhist art did Tang artists begin to represent Confucius alone. The actual painting of Wu Daozi has disappeared but a reproduction of it is preserved on a stone tablet at Qufu. See Berthold Laufer, “Confucius and his Portraits,” The Open Court XXVI/670 (March 1912): 147–68, and XXVI/671 (April 1912): 202–18. Mungello, Curious Land, 271. 76 Introduction of office in the administration. This statue of

se gerere, Zi-ka-wei, 1 verso) for xin. The classical text reads as: “whether I am practicing the teaching I am transmitting.” However, Zhu (48) read chuan 傳 (to transmit) as meaning “what was transmitted to me by the Teacher.” Zhang (3) and the Jesuits have the same interpretation as Zhu’s. 1.4. p. 2. 102 1.5 Fol. 3, p. 1. part 1 子1 曰2: “道3 千4 乘5 之國6:敬7 事8 而9 信10,節11 用12 而13 愛14 人15,使16 民17 以18 時19。” Confucius1 ait2: Ut quispiam feliciter administret3 mille4 quadrigarum5 regnum6, (quod

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