A Chinese book Between Religion and the Secular World: Protestant Missionaries’ Early Activities in the Coastal Areas of South China (1807 - 1851) was republished by the Social Sciences Academic Press (China) last month.
To give a full picture of the missionary activities in the coastal parts of Southern China in the first half of the 19th century, the book not only reveals their religious, medical, and educational activities but also discusses the special roles the missionaries played in the Sino-West relationship, the spread of Western culture in China as well as the development of Sinology in the West.
Composed of six chapters, this book starts with two chapters introducing the mission activities before and after the Qing Dynasty lifted the ban of Christianity, 1807 - 1840 and 1840 - 1851 respectively, covering the activities of Robert Morrison, Ultra-Ganges Mission, London Missionary Society, and American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
In Chapter 3, the author Professor Wu, a scholar of the History of Modern Sino-Foreign Relations at Sun Yat-sen University provides insights into the missionaries’ influence on the Sino-West relations before and after the Opium Wars. Robert Morrison, Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff, Peter Parker, and Elijah Coleman Bridgman are specifically mentioned and introduced. Chapter 4 is devoted to the missionaries’ medical and educational service in China, especially through Ying Wa College and Morrison Education Society.
The final two chapters illustrate the cultural exchanges mediated by the missionaries. These chapters explore the translation and introduction of the Bible and other Western books to China, as well as the missionaries’ report of China to their senders, which to some extent changed their understanding of China, and the development of Sinology facilitated by the missionaries.
Professor Wu's main research interests lie in the history of modern Sino-Foreign relations, the history of Sino-Foreign cultural exchanges as well as that of Christianity in China.
The book was first published in 2000 by Guangdong Education Publishing House as Professor Wu’s doctoral thesis. Due to the steady market demand, the book was republished in January 2022, with further editing, modification, and analysis of literature published after 2000.