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Title: Jesuit and 'seonbi' (±) in East Asia and the production of the first Korean supplemental teaching by Yi Byeok : the idea of God in 'The Essence of Sage Teaching' as an exercise in self-cultivation ('sudeok') and self-expenditure ('jeonghan')
Author: Moon, Tahn
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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The Jesuits, particularly Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), were the first enlightened missionaries who once in China discovered that the association of the God of the Bible with the old Chinese belief in the Lord of Heaven (Sangje) neatly conformed with the supplemental doctrine of the Deity they were reintroducing in the Middle Kingdom. Ricci’s idea of God revealed a profound and apodictic interpretation of the Deity. If on the one hand, it built on the old revered Chinese notions of religiousness, on the other hand, it had little to do with a metaphysical, compassionate concept of self-expenditure one could associate with the experience of love-pain, or jeonghan. Since the early 1970s, the Korean concept of han – the conventional meaning of which may be expressed in the English term resentment – has been the subject of theological discourse amongst Korean theologians who identify it with liberation theologies that have developed in Latin America and elsewhere. Han suggests a wide range of meanings and ‘pathologies’. Dominant amongst them in recent Korean Christian discourse is wonhan, which implies the bitterness of one who has been treated wrongly and who harbours resentment and hatred. While recognising that this is the traditional understanding of han, this thesis will fundamentally dwell on another dimension of meaning as conveyed in the term jeonghan which suggests a ‘pathetic’ – that is com-passionate, love-pain – rather that pathological dimension of meaning. The thesis chooses the term ‘com-passionate’ in recognition of the affinity of meaning between jeonghan and the Greek notion of pathe understood as self-expending affection, or in Cicero’s term sensu amandi which holds life suspended in ‘pathetic’ self-expenditure. This reflects the interpretation given by the Korean seonbi (scholar), Yi Byeok (1754-1786) whose main work provides the central focus of this study. The aim of the thesis is to invoke this more com-passionate and self-expending understanding of han. It will do so by examining the epistemological interaction between the Jesuit encounter with China’s religious traditions, with special reference to Matteo Ricci’s True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (1603) and the Jesuit influence on a particular group of seonbi in Joseon (Korea) represented by Yi Ik, An Jeong-bok, Jeong Dasan and Yi Byeok. Against a background analysis of Joseon’s encounter with Ricci’s Western Learning (Seohak), the thesis includes an original translation of Yi Byeok’s main work, Essence of Sage Teaching (Seonggyo yoji), together with the original Chinese version.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available