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The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven by Ricci, M.

One of Ricci's most famous works, The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven, was written in Chinese in dialogue form. In it Ricci attempted to introduce Chinese literati to some of the fundamental ideas of the Judaeo Christian tradition. Variétés Sinologiques No.72, 1985, 485 pages.

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Four hundred years ago Matteo Ricci, an Italian Jesuit, initiated an encounter between Chinese culture and Western Christianity which has continued ever since. One of Ricci's most famous works, The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven, was written in Chinese in dialogue form. In it Ricci attempted to introduce Chinese literati to some of the fundamental ideas of the Judaeo Christian tradition. Based upon conversations Ricci had with sixteenth century Chinese scholars, this work allows us to overhear how he explained to his Chinese friends Western views about the purpose of life, human nature, the existence of God. As the first writer to attempt an extensive treatment of such questions in Chinese, Ricci achieved some outstanding successes and committed some regrettable errors. The history of Christianity in China is somehow mirrored in Ricci's portrait of himself, the Chinese intelligentsia of the declining Ming dynasty, and their effort to communicate with each other.

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