Tianzhu (Chinese name of God)

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Tianzhu (Chinese: 天主, Tiānzhǔ), meaning "Heavenly Master" or "Lord of Heaven," was the Chinese word used by the Jesuit China missions to designate God. [1]

Jesuit China missions

The history of the missions of the Jesuits in China is part of the history of relations between China and the Western world. The missionary efforts and other work of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, between the 16th and 17th century played a significant role in continuing the transmission of knowledge, science, and culture between China and the West, and influenced Christian culture in Chinese society today.

In monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, and principal object of faith. God is usually conceived as being omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-present) and as having an eternal and necessary existence. These attributes are used either in way of analogy or are taken literally. God is most often held to be incorporeal (immaterial). Incorporeality and corporeality of God are related to conceptions of transcendence and immanence of God, with positions of synthesis such as the "immanent transcendence".

Contents

History

The word first appeared in Michele Ruggieri's Chinese translation of the Decalogo , or Ten Commandments. [1] In 1584, Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci published their first catechism, Tiānzhǔ shílù (天主實錄, The Veritable Record of the Lord of Heaven). [2]

Michele or Michael Ruggieri, born Pompilio Ruggieri and known in China as Luo Mingjian, was an Italian Jesuit priest and missionary. A founding father of the Jesuit China missions, co-author of the first European–Chinese dictionary, and first European translator of the Four Books of Confucianism, he has been described as the first European sinologist.

Matteo Ricci Italian priest and missionary

Matteo Ricci, S.J., was an Italian Jesuit priest and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China missions. His 1602 map of the world in Chinese characters introduced the findings of European exploration to East Asia. He is considered a Servant of God by the Roman Catholic Church.

Matteo Ricci later wrote a catechism entitled Tiānzhŭ Shíyì (天主實義, The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven). [1] [2]

Catechism A summary or exposition of doctrine

A catechism is a summary or exposition of doctrine and serves as a learning introduction to the Sacraments traditionally used in catechesis, or Christian religious teaching of children and adult converts. Catechisms are doctrinal manuals – often in the form of questions followed by answers to be memorised – a format that has been used in non-religious or secular contexts as well. According to Norman DeWitt, the early Christians appropriated this practice from the Epicureans, a school whose founder Epicurus had instructed to keep summaries of the teachings for easy learning. The term catechumen refers to the designated recipient of the catechetical work or instruction. In the Catholic Church, catechumens are those who are preparing to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. Traditionally, they would be placed separately during Holy Mass from those who had been baptized, and would be dismissed from the liturgical assembly before the Profession of Faith (Creed) and General Intercessions.

Following the Chinese rites controversy, the term Tiānzhŭ was officially adopted by the Pope in 1715, who rejected alternative terms such as Tiān (天, "Heaven") and Shàngdì (上帝, "Supreme Emperor"). [3]

Pope leader of the Catholic Church

The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, is the bishop of Rome and ex officio leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Since 1929, the pope has also been head of state of Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.

Tian Chinese view of Heaven

Tiān (天) is one of the oldest Chinese terms for heaven and a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophy, and religion. During the Shang dynasty, the Chinese referred to their supreme god as Shàngdì or (帝,"Lord"). During the following Zhou dynasty, Tiān became synonymous with this figure. Heaven worship was, before the 20th century, an orthodox state religion of China.

Shangdi Chinese view of a supreme God

Shangdi, also written simply, "Emperor", is the Chinese term for "Supreme Deity" or "Highest Deity" in the theology of the classical texts, especially deriving from Shang theology and finding an equivalent in the later Tian of Zhou theology.

"Catholicism" is most commonly rendered as Tiānzhǔjiào (天主教, "Religion of the Lord of Heaven"). An individual Catholic is Tiānzhŭjiào tú ; [4] includes the meanings "disciple" and "believer." [5] The same hanja characters are used in the Korean words for Catholicism and Catholic believer.

Hanja Korean language characters of Chinese origin

Hanja is the Korean name for Chinese characters. More specifically, it refers to the Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation. Hanja-mal or Hanja-eo refers to words that can be written with Hanja, and hanmun refers to Classical Chinese writing, although "Hanja" is sometimes used loosely to encompass these other concepts. Because Hanja never underwent major reform, they are almost entirely identical to traditional Chinese and kyūjitai characters, though the stroke orders for some characters are slightly different. For example, the characters and are written as 敎 and 硏. Only a small number of Hanja characters are modified or unique to Korean. By contrast, many of the Chinese characters currently in use in Japan and Mainland China have been simplified, and contain fewer strokes than the corresponding Hanja characters.

See also

Names of God forms of addressing or referring to God

There are various names of God, many of which enumerate the various qualities of a Supreme Being. The English word "God" is used by multiple religions as a noun or name to refer to different deities, or specifically to the Supreme Being, as denoted in English by the capitalized and uncapitalized terms "god" and "God". Ancient cognate equivalents for the biblical Hebrew Elohim, one of the most common names of God in the Bible, include proto-Semitic El, biblical Aramaic Elah, and Arabic 'ilah. The personal or proper name for God in many of these languages may either be distinguished from such attributes, or homonymic. For example, in Judaism the tetragrammaton is sometimes related to the ancient Hebrew ehyeh. In the Hebrew Bible, the personal name of God is revealed directly to Moses, namely: "Yahweh".

In the Chinese common religion and philosophical schools the idea of the universal God has been expressed in a variety of names and representations, most notably as 天 Tiān ("Heaven") and 上帝 Shàngdì.

Shen (神) is the Chinese word for "god", "deity", "spirit" or theos. This single Chinese term expresses a range of similar, yet differing, meanings. The first meaning may refer to spirits or gods that are intimately involved in the affairs of the world. Spirits generate entities like rivers, mountains, thunder and stars. A second meaning of shen refers to the human spirit or psyche; it is the basic power or agency within humans that accounts for life, and in order to further life to its fullest potential the spirit must be grown and cultivated. A third understanding of shen describes an entity as spiritual in the sense of inspiring awe or wonder because it combines categories usually kept separate, or it cannot be comprehended through normal concepts.

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Chinese Rites controversy 17th–18th-century dispute among Roman Catholic missionaries

The Chinese Rites controversy was a dispute among Roman Catholic missionaries over the religiosity of Confucianism and Chinese rituals during the 17th and 18th centuries. The debate discussed whether Chinese ritual practices of honoring family ancestors and other formal Confucian and Chinese imperial rites qualified as religious rites and were thus incompatible with Catholic belief. The Jesuits argued that these Chinese rites were secular rituals that were compatible with Christianity, within certain limits, and should thus be tolerated. The Dominicans and Franciscans, however, disagreed and reported the issue to Rome.

Sky father archetype

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Catholic Church in China French sphere of influence in Shanghai, China

The Catholic Church in China has a long and complicated history. Christianity has existed in China in various forms since at least the Tang Dynasty in the 8th century AD. Following the 1949 takeover by the Communist Party of China, Catholic and Protestant missionaries were expelled from the country, and the religion was vilified as a manifestation of western imperialism. In 1957, the Chinese government established the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, which rejects the authority of the Holy See and appoints its own bishops. Since September 2018, however, the Papacy has the power to veto any Bishop which the Chinese government recommends.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Beijing catholic cathedral in Beijing, China

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, colloquially known as the Xuanwumen church or Nantang to the locals, is a historic Roman Catholic Church located in the Beijing, China, Xicheng District, near the Beijing Financial Street. While the original foundation of the cathedral was in 1605, making it the oldest Catholic church in Beijing, the current building in Baroque style dates from 1904. The present Archbishop Joseph Li Shan, installed in September 2007, is one of the few Catholic bishops also recognized by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church.

Missionary work of the Catholic Church has often been undertaken outside the geographically defined parishes and dioceses by religious orders who have people and material resources to spare, and some of which specialized in missions. Eventually, parishes and dioceses would be organized worldwide, often after an intermediate phase as an apostolic prefecture or apostolic vicariate.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Nanjing) Roman Catholic cathedral in Nanjing, China

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (圣母无染原罪始胎堂), commonly known as Shigu Road Cathedral (石鼓路天主教堂) to the locals, is a late 19th-century church in Nanjing that serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nanking. It is located in the centre of the city at 112 Shigu Road. First built in 1870 during the Qing dynasty, it was later severely damaged during the Northern Expedition War and had to be rebuilt by the Chinese government in 1928. Since the 1930s it has served as the cathedral for the Archdiocese of Nanjing and is the only Catholic church within the city of Nanjing today. In 1982 it was also listed as a Jiangsu Provincial Historic Site.

Zhu Hong Chinese buddhist monk

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Xú Guāngqǐ of Shanghai, and Lǐ Zhīzǎo and Yáng Tíngyún both of Hangzhou, are known as the Three Great Pillars of Chinese Catholicism. It is due to their combined efforts that Hangzhou and Shanghai became the centre of missionary activity in late Ming China. The three men shared an interest in Western science and mathematics, and it is probable that this was what first attracted them to the Jesuits responsible for their conversion.

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François Noël was a Flemish Jesuit poet, dramatist, and missionary to the Qing Empire.

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