Matteo Ricci's True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (1603) has been studied extensively by scholars of the Jesuit China Mission, especially in terms of accommodation through means of Scholastic and Humanist arguments and translation choices. Few of these studies, however, discuss the genre of this work (disputation), nor consider this genre in relation to Renaissance rhetorical teachings and how this relationship informs Ricci's accommodative strategies. The purpose of this paper is to remedy this gap in early modern Jesuit scholarship. Through a review of the history of accommodations in disputations in the Aristotelian-Scholastic and Ciceronian-Humanist traditions, this paper claims that True Meaning is a Humanist disputation, not only because Ricci translated Christian terms into Chinese and draws references from classical sources, but also because this text follows strategies taught in the Humanist, but not the Scholastic curriculum. If True Meaning is a Humanist disputation, then Ricci's teachings should be reconsidered from the perspective of Renaissance rhetoric, which sheds further light on how Ricci's work fits into Renaissance culture and the transformation of the early modern disputation genre, as well as provides further explanation of the Western accommodation paradigm Ricci brought to China, which is prior to understanding how Ricci was transformed by China.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Leon, Roberto Sebastian, "Accommodation, Decorum, and Disputatio: Matteo Ricci's The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven as a Renaissance Humanist Disputation" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 6610.
Matteo Ricci, disputation, accommodation, Jesuit China Mission, rhetoric, decorum, Humanism, Renaissance