2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

When China Encounters Jesus: An Overview of the Research on
Christian Intellectuals’ Representation of Images of Jesus in
Republican China before 1949

Zhi-xi Wang

Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

The article offers an overview of the research on Christian intellectuals’ images of Jesus in Republican China before 1949. First, concerning the primary sources, existing scholarship has utilized many articles related to images of Jesus in various Republican-era Christian journals and monographs written at that time by such renowned Christian writers as T. C. Chao, L. C. Wu, Y. T. Wu and S. C. Chang. Furthermore, Y. T. Wu in the 1920s, Wing-hung Lam in the 1980s, and Ken-pa Chin in the 2010s have also compiled collections of relevant primary sources. More primary sources may be obtained through: 1) comprehensively reading through Christian journals of the time; 2) taking into consideration translated works from the West; and 3) relying on “e-research” of several online databases. Second, regarding research approaches, most previous research took either a literary or a theological perspective. The former, focusing on literary sources, has dealt with those works written by Bingxin, Wei-chih Chu, Jiaowo Wang, and T. C. Chao, as well as S. C. Chang. The latter has mostly emphasized theology in a narrow sense. The theological conceptual frames of Christology and Soteriology, for instance, were utilized to analyze the remaking of Jesus by T. C. Chao, L. C. Wu, Y. T. Wu, or Yuming Jia. Or researchers adopted contemporary theories of political theology and public theology in order to interpret Republican Christian intellectuals’ images of Jesus. Most of the previous research, however, neglects the approach of biblical studies as one of the disciplines of theology in a broad sense. Recently, many efforts have been put into the reception history of the Bible, and biblical scholars such as Sze-kar Wan and John Yueh-Han Yieh have introduced this approach to the history of Chinese Christianity. Lastly, scholars often focus on these three types of images of Jesus: a soul savior, a character builder, and a social revolutionary.


Keywords: Christian intellectuals in Republican China, images of Jesus, primary sources, approaches, types