‘Missionary Yijing in Qing China: Dialogues between the Yijing and the Bible’

The multifarious symbolism of the 64 hexagrams in the Yijing (The Book of Changes), the highly venerated and influential Chinese classic, attracted substantial attention from leading Christian missionaries in late imperial China. This lecture compares and contrasts three distinctive perspectives of missionary interpretation of the Yijing during the Qing period, including the Figurist approach of the French Jesuit Joachim Bouvet (1656-1730), the mythological reading of the Irish Anglican Thomas McClatchie (1814-1885), and the moralistic/philosophical interpretation of the Scottish Presbyterian James Legge (1815-1897). These pioneering attempts of introducing and translating the Chinese classic to the West engendered profound inter-religious encounters and dialogues between the Yijing and the Bible.