The Chinese Theologians
This course examines select readings from Chinese church and academic theologians (including Hong Kong writers and diaspora voices) to explore the nature of Chinese Christian thought. The readings cover late imperial Roman Catholic writers, early republican Protestant thinkers, high communist-era church theologians, and contemporary Sino-Christian academic theologians. Students read primary materials in English, supplemented by background studies and lecture material to help make sense of the theological constructions that emerge. The course encourages reflection on the challenges for Christian mission in a communist context, on the tensions between church and state in the production of theologies, and on the challenges that Chinese Christianity poses for global Christian thought.
Chinese and Japanese Christian Literature
What effect did Christianity have on modern Chinese literature, and what sort of Christianity emerges from Chinese Christian literature? Is Endō Shusakū the only Japanese Christian writer (and does Martin Scorsese’s film do justice to Endō’s novel Silence)? This course tackles such questions by tracing the development of a Christian literature in China and Japan from late Imperial times to the beginning of the twenty-first century, with particular focus on the heyday (in China) of the 1920s and ’30s, and on the Japanese side, on Endō’s postwar novels. Using texts available in English, the course examines how Christian ideas and metaphors permeated the literary—and revolutionary—imagination in East Asia. Though rarely clearly in evidence, the influence of Christianity on Chinese literature came directly through the Bible and church education and indirectly through translated European and Western literature. The course tests the aesthetic visions and construction of the human being from texts set among Japanese samurai in Mexico to the revolutionary throes of modern China.
The Day Missions Collection at YDS is the strongest mission collection in the world, comprising about one third of the Divinity Library’s 500,000 volumes—and it is also the central repository in the United States for China-related mission papers. This course offers students the opportunity to complete an original research project in the library relating to mission in China, utilizing manuscript, microform, and monograph materials from the collections. For the first six weeks, students read intensively in mission history, theory, and practice, schematized through mission narratives. The next four weeks are “library lab” time: supervised reading time in special collection and archive materials within the library; reading into and developing projects while help is on hand for deciphering handwriting; providing reference tools for China, etc. The final two weeks are dedicated to research presentations and evaluation, with each student offering research findings to the class in any media chosen.