Writing Missions

in Sojourners in a Strange Land

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226355597
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226355610 | DOI:
Writing Missions

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Matteo Ricci's De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas suscepta ab Societate Jesu (1615) was the first sustained history of the Jesuit mission in China, as well as the history of a particular sort of apostolic life. Within its pages, the Jesuits' engagement with mixed mathematics in the Chinese mission fields was first transformed from an occasionally convenient tactic to a manifestation of authentic evangelical action. The Society of Jesus's foundational legislative text, Constitutions, stipulated a regular correspondence patterned on the order's administrative structure. The Constitutions' prescriptions represent but a starting point for grasping the development of administrative letter-writing practices within the Society. This chapter examines the emergence of mission histories from the rich substratum of Jesuit correspondence that linked members of the Society of Jesus. In the hands of De Christiana's editor, Nicolas Trigault, the first history of the Jesuit mission in China doubled as a vita of Ricci, the saintly missionary mathematician.

Keywords: Matteo Ricci; Jesuits; Society of Jesus; China; apostolic life; mixed mathematics; correspondence; letter-writing; mission histories; Jesuit mission

Chapter.  7280 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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