From Christ to Confucius


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German Missionaries, Chinese Christians, and the Globalization of Christianity, 1860-1950

Albert Monshan Wu

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A bold and original study of German missionaries in China, who catalyzed a revolution in thinking among European Christians about the nature of Christianity itself

In this accessibly written and empirically based study, Albert Wu documents how German missionaries—chastened by their failure to convert Chinese people to Christianity—reconsidered their attitudes toward Chinese culture and Confucianism. In time, their increased openness catalyzed a revolution in thinking among European Christians about the nature of Christianity itself. At a moment when Europe’s Christian population is falling behind those of South America and Africa, Wu’s provocative analysis sheds light on the roots of Christianity’s global shift.

Albert Monshan Wu is assistant professor of history at the American University of Paris. He writes regularly for the Los Angeles Review of Books and Commonweal.

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“Albert Wu provides a cogent account of German missions in China from 1860 to 1950. Though most missionaries considered their mission in China a failure, Wu has found bright spots in an otherwise bleak outcome.”—Daniel H. Bays, author of A New History of Christianity in China

"Albert Wu's engaging, well-researched book explores the growing sympathy of German missionaries in China towards indigenous religion and culture. His elegantly argued account looks at national rivalries among missionaries, shifts within Chinese society, and the overarching importance of World War One. This is an impressively wide-ranging and thoughtful book."—David Blackbourn, Vanderbilt University

From Christ to Confucius offers an intriguing and revisionist account of German Christian missionary activity in China. Breaking out of the conventional debate about cultural imperialism, Albert Wu presents a sophisticated study of the ambiguities and the counter-intuitive effects of the German missionary presence in China.”— Sebastian Conrad, author of What Is Global History?

“In this engaging and learned history of Christianity in modern Germany and China, Albert Wu has given us a splendid transnational account that will be of interest to students and scholars of imperialism and anti-imperialism, Christianity, nationalism, and cosmopolitanism.”— Andrew Zimmerman, George Washington University

“Exciting and beautifully written . . . brilliantly researched and argued . . . an impressive achievement.”—Udi Greenberg, Immanent Frame

“As if groundbreaking scholarship were not enough. . . what sets this book apart is Wu’s elegance of presentation. Whether or not one comes away agreeing with all of Wu’s conclusions, one will certainly feel the journey was worth the time.”—Ryan Pino, Reading Religion

“An important contribution to a burgeoning literature. . . . It persuasively demonstrates that religion deserves a central place in histories of modern globalization and transnational exchange.”—Brandon Bloch, H-Diplo

“Impressive ambition, research, and attention to a neglected but important subject. . . . This book provides a welcome appraisal of the Chinese cultural and Christian evangelical encounter and with it the Confucian and Christian exchange that marked and marks both East with West.”—Michael B. Gross, Journal of Modern History

"Albert Monshan Wu has written a stimulating monograph on the challenge of localizing Christianity and maintaining global church links in modern China."—Christle Chul-Shan Chow, Journal of World Christianity
ISBN: 9780300217070
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
344 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
10 b/w illus.