Editors: Thierry Meynard, Daniel Canaris
A Brief Response on the Controversies over Shangdi, Tianshen and Linghun
By Niccolò Longobardo
Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan (Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History), 2021, XXV, 375
- Claudia von Collani: The Genesis, Editions and Translations of Longobardo’s Treatise, Pages 1-26
This chapter reconstructs the background of Longobardo’s treatise through a detailed analysis of the texts on the Terms Controversy. It devotes particular attention to the role of João Rodrigues Tçuzu (1561–1633), a key figure in the connection between the missions of Japan and China. After arriving in China, he interviewed Chinese Christians and concluded that their understanding of God, angel and soul was mistaken. Collani argues that Rodrigues’ method of textual examination and interviews prompted Longobardo to launch his own investigation. Collani analyzes also how different manuscripts of the report were produced, and its role in the tense discussions in 1668 when almost all the missionaries in China had been exiled to Canton. The disagreements in Canton led the opponents of Ricci’s missionary policy to publicize Longobardo’s report in Europe.
- Song Liming: The Identification of Chinese Non-Christian Literati and Reflections on the Dating of the “Resposta breve” and Its Place of Composition, Pages 27-44
This chapter contains the first systematic study of the non-Christian literati whom Longobardo interviewed for his report. Prior scholarship has focused on Longobardo’s discussions with Chinese Christian literati, particularly Yang Tingyun. However, Longobardo mentions also the names of sixteen non-Christian literati, of whom only one had been identified (Qian Linwu). Based on the information provided by the manuscripts and Chinese historical records, Song Liming has identified with certitude eleven of the sixteen literati. For the five remaining literati, Song hazards some possibilities. He infers from details about the positions of those literati that Longobardo held two rounds of interviews: a first round in Beijing around 1621–1625, and a second round in Nanjing and Hangzhou around 1625–1629. Song provides convincing evidence that the report had not been finalized in 1623, as previously assumed, but that Longobardo continued to revise it up until the very end of the 1620s.
- Daniel Canaris: Longobardo’s Scholastic Critique of Ricci’s Accommodation of Confucianism, Pages 45-59
This chapter seeks to inserts Longobardo’s report into its Renaissance intellectual context by considering how Longobardo’s polemic with Ricci’s accommodation of Confucianism reflects coeval European debates between humanism and scholasticism. Just as the European humanists attempted to discard the traditional commentaries of the Middle Ages and return to the original meaning of ancient texts, Ricci rejected the traditional commentaries of the Song dynasty and attempted to restore what he believed to be the authentic meaning of the Confucian classics by returning to the original texts of the Confucius. In contrast, just as the Renaissance scholastics interpreted ancient texts in continuity with medieval tradition, Longobardo interpreted the ancient texts of China in light of those very Song-dynasty commentaries that Ricci had rejected.
- Thierry Meynard: Longobardo’s Reading of Song Confucianism, Pages 61-82
This chapter examines the Song commentaries which Longobardo considered important for a correct understanding of Confucianism. In particular, Meynard reveals that Longobardo’s understanding of what constituted canonical thought in late Ming China was highly idiosyncratic. Longobardo elevates Shao Yong as the representative thinker of the Confucian tradition despite the fact that Zhu Xi considered many of his ideas to be heterodox. Longobardo’s report provides the first European description of Shao Yong’s cosmological division between metaphysical and abstract realities (xiantianxue), and the concrete realities unfolding in the physical universe (houtianxue). Longobardo interprets his cosmology through the lens of Aristotelian concepts, and concludes that it was essentially materialist monism which does not allow for spiritual substances, thereby proving terminology indigenous to the Confucian tradition cannot convey the transcendence of Christian theological concepts.
- Claudia von Collani et alii: Philological Note, Pages 83-90
This chapter explains the philological principles employed in our edition of Longobardo’s “Resposta breve”. In particular, it stresses our intention to represent as accurately as possible Longobardo’s intellectual contribution while giving a sense of how the text was manipulated during the Chinese Rites Controversies. For this reason, our edition has opted to base the English translation on Santa Maria’s Latin translation of Longobardo’s report located in the archives of Propaganda Fide in Rome (APF). This manuscript has been systematically compared against Longobardo’s Portuguese text, which has been reconstructed with Longobardo’s autograph (and significantly mutilated) manuscript found in APF and a copy of Longobardo’s text found in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF). This chapter also provides an overview of the most important manuscript and printed copies of the text.
- Niccolò Longobardo: A Brief Response to the Controversies Over Shangdi, Tianshen and Linghun, Translated from Latin into English by Daniel Canaris and Annotated by Thierry Meynard, Daniel Canaris Pages 91-198
This report by the Jesuit Niccolò Longobardo, who succeeded Matteo Ricci as Superior of the Jesuit China mission, was one of the most controversial texts in the history of Sino-Western exchange. Ricci had attempted to use indigenous Chinese vocabulary to represent the Christian God, the soul and the angels. This approach was challenged by Jesuits arriving in Macau from Japan who feared that such accommodations could lead to heterodoxy among Chinese Christian converts. Influenced by these missionaries, Longobardo started compiling this report in the early 1620s using a combination of Chinese and Western sources, as well as interviews with Christian and pagan literati. The report was leaked in the early 1660s to the Franciscan missionary Antonio de Santa Maria Caballero, who forwarded it to Rome. The printing of this text in Europe had a decisive impact on the Chinese Rites Controversy and Enlightenment understanding of Confucianism.
- Appendix 1: Transcription of Caballero’s Latin Translation, Transcribed by Claudia von Collani, Daniel Canaris, and Thierry Meynard
This appendix contains a transcription of the Latin translation of Longobardo’s “Resposta breve” by the Franciscan missionary Antonio de Santa Maria Caballero. Santa Maria commenced this translation soon after receiving a copy of Longobardo’s autograph Portuguese manuscript from Jean Valat sometime between 20 August 1661 and 12 October 1661. It was addressed to the cardinals of Propaganda Fide, who Santa Maria hoped would intervene to overturn the 1656 decree in favor of the Chinese Rites. He handed this translation, the autograph original and other documents to his companion Buenaventura Ibañez, who brought the documents to Rome on 20 April 1667. Overall, Santa Maria’s translation is a faithful translation of Longobardo’s Portuguese text, although many glosses are added to make Longobardo’s text more understandable for an audience ignorant of the Chinese language and to draw links between the text and the Chinese Rites Controversy.
- Appendix 2: Transcription of Longobardo’s Portuguese Text, Transcribed and edited by Emanuele Landi and revised by Mário S. de Carvalho
This appendix contains a transcription of the original Portuguese text that has been reconstructed through a comparison of Longobardo’s mutilated autograph manuscript found in the archives of Propaganda Fide and a copy found in the archives of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Although this text has been dated to 1623—1624, there is evidence that further revisions were made to this manuscript as late as 1630. Originally, the text consisted of three parts, but only the first part of the text reached Santa Maria. Furthermore, the surviving manuscript only includes seventeen preludes; however, the index of the autograph manuscript gives evidence of an eighteenth prelude.