Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Edward Pratt

Committee Members

James Axtell


Jesuit missionaries in China in the seventeenth century broke with tradition and began to accommodate local culture while trying to convert it to Catholicism. Fr. Matteo Ricci pioneered this method. Part of the reason for this accommodation was a firmly entrenched Confucian orthodoxy with which the missionaries had to contend. The Chinese scholar-officials who converted believed that their Confuscian word order was in peril and thought that Catholicism might help buttress it. Chinese critics believed that the Western religion was subversive instead of patriotic. European critics believed that Ricci had edited Catholicism so much that it was no longer anything but deism. Converts such as Xu Guangqi had to defend the Jesuits from such attacks.

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