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Sojourners in a Strange LandJesuits and Their Scientific Missions in Late Imperial China$
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Florence C. Hsia

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226355597

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226355610.001.0001

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Writing Missions

Writing Missions

(p.13) Chapter Two Writing Missions
Sojourners in a Strange Land
University of Chicago Press

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

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