|天釋明辨 / (明)楊廷筠著. [武林楊淇園先生著].|
For full bibliographical information, see also: Ad Dudink & Nicolas Standaert, Chinese Christian Texts Database (CCT-Database)
" ... By becoming a Christian, Yang Tingyun had turned his back on Buddhism. He expressed this break in his first writing Tian shi mingbian (before 1621), in which he exposed the apparent similarities but essential differences between Christianity and Buddhism..." (Cf. Standaert, Handbook of Christianity in China, vol. 1, p. 617)
Jap-Sin I, 165a
Tian Shi mingbian 天釋明辨
By Yang Tingyun 楊廷筠 (1557–1627).
One juan. Chinese bamboo paper in one volume. Published by the Catholic church built by imperial order (Fuzhou, Fujian). No date of publication.
On the cover there is a Latin inscription: “Differentia inter | legem Christianam | et sectam idolatricam | foe | a doctore christiano Yam Ki yuen, nomine Michäelo.”
The title page gives the title in four large characters. On the right side the author’s name is given: 武林楊淇園先生著 and on the left the publisher: 勅建天主堂.
There is a preface (題天釋明辯; the character 辯 should be 辨) by Zhang Geng 張賡 and a table of content (two folios). The main text consists of eighty-nine folios. On top of folio 1 the title of the book is given and below the author’s name. There are nine columns in each half folio with nineteen characters to the column. The title of the book is given in the upper middle of each folio; the title of the chapter and the number of the folio are given below the fish-tail.
Yang Tingyun realized that, though in Buddhist teachings there are similarities to those of the Catholic Church, in fact their concepts are quite different. In his early days, Yang had been a devout Buddhist and was well versed in Buddhism; hence his refutation is always to the point.
It is to be noted that the Catholic terms are often rendered by transliteration: 罷辣依瑣 (paraiso), 因弗爾諾 (inferno), 撒責兒鐸德 (sacerdote), 費絡瑣費亞 (philosophia), 德路日亞 (theologia), 陡斯 (Deus), etc. This is also one of the earliest books to mention the European alphabet and the romanization of Chinese characters (cf. ff. 76a–78b).
Chang Keng in his preface tells that both Xu Guangqi and Yang Tingyun were intelligent and learned. For a long time they were absorbed in the errors of Buddhism. But after long consideration they were convinced of the true doctrine of God and, having regretted their belated entrance to the Church, their faith became stronger than ever.
Cf. Hsü 1949, pp. 113–114; Courant 7090–7092; Fang Hao 1969, pp. 2279–2281.
Source: Albert Chan, S.J., Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, p. 216.