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Specimen Sapientiae hieroglyphicae seu Theologiae Symbolicae priscorum Sinarum, proponendum omnibus viris Apostolicis & ceteris nationum orientalium conversionem, ardenter desiderantibu. [Jap-Sin IV, 5A]
AuthorBouvet, Joachim 白晉, 1656-1730
Pub. Location---Publisher---
Daten.d.Phys. Desc.pdf. mss. [189 p. : ill.]
LocationDigital ArchivesCall NumberBV3427.B62 S743
Specimen Sapientiae hieroglyphicae seu Theologiae Symbolicae priscorum Sinarum, proponendum omnibus viris Apostolicis & ceteris nationum orientalium conversionem, ardenter desiderantibus.

Citation: Albert Chan, S.J., Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 518-522.

Jap-Sin IV, 5

Some manuscript writings of Joachim Bouvet. Eight folders (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H) in one case. Written in Chinese ink on Chinese paper. Wieger's catalogue (WH) gives: “Fouquet, Bouvet etc., MS (ineptiae).”

Jap-Sin IV, 5 A

Specimenᅵ Sapientiae hieroglyphicae ᅵ seu Theologiae Symbolicae priscorum Sinarum, ᅵ proponendum ᅵ omnibus viris Apostolicis ᅵ & ceteris nationum orientalium conversionem, ardenter desiderantibus.
Six fascicules, 189 pages. 33 x 24.2 cm.

On the first page there is a Latin inscription: “Admodum Reverendo in Christo Patri ᅵ P. Michaëli Archangelo Tamburino ᅵ Societatis Jesu praeposito generali.”

In this letter to the General of the Jesuits Bouvet defends himself against some of his French confreres on the question of his interpretation of the ancient Chinese Classics.

Bouvet was one of the five Jesuits sent by Louis XIV to China as mathematicians and astronomers. Both he and Jean-François Gerbillon were kept in the imperial court as tutors to the Kangxi emperor. They not only learned Chinese but also the Manchu language. The emperor seemed to be fond of Bouvet and considered him as the better student of the Chinese language among the foreign missioners then in China. Both Bouvet and Jean-François Foucquet had an idea of finding traces of Christianity in ancient Chinese monuments and writing. They even tried to identify the ancient Chinese kings with patriarchs in the Scriptures. For this they were known as “figurists” and their theory as “figurism.”

To begin his studies, Bouvet took up what he considered as the most ancient documents from the Classics , namely, the Yijing 易經 (Book of Changes) and the Shijing 詩經 (Book of Songs). He seemed to have paid special attention to the Yijing. When he revealed his project to the emperor, the latter gave his full support and followed his studies with enthusiasm.

This undertaking of Bouvet, however, did not please his confreres; in fact, it had caused uneasiness among many. Cyr Contancin, then superior of the French residence in Peking, writing to the General of the Order had this to report on Bouvet: “. . . sed post vinginti annos et amplius tali studio deditos nihil quidquam aliud consecutus est Pater, quam ut ab ipsamet sua majestate diceretur tandem bonum senem hallucinari et circa sui operis negotium non esse sanae mentis (Jap-Sin 177, f. 72v). F.-X. Dentrecolles, then superior of the French missioners in Peking, ordered Bouvet not to show his writings on ancient Chinese studies to any outsider (not even the emperor), unless these writings had been approved by censors who had been appointed by the superior. In a moment of distress Bouvet wrote to the General of the Order trying to justify his own position. J.-F. Foucquet meanwhile wrote a long letter to Jean-Joseph Guibert about the ins and outs of the conflict and sided with the views of Bouvet. The following is the summary of Bouvet’s letter to the General:

The first paragraph (pp. 7–39) bears the title: “De origine et antiquitate nationis Sinensis totiusque eius literaturae, in notitia Dei unius et Trini, Creatoris et Reparatoris, ac legi Decalogi ab initio fundata” with the following contents:

1. De monumentis praediluvianis, per Noe devolutis ad Sinas (p. 12).
2. De antiquitate librorum canonicorum sinensium (p. 13).
3. De caeteris libris majoris auctoritatis: 道德經,淮南子,太極圖 (on the Trinity) (p. 15).
4. De vera significatione vocis ye, unus (p. 25).
5. De vera significatione vocis Tai-kie, primum principium (p. 26).
6. De vera significatione vocis tai-ye [太一], ter maximus (p. 28).
7. De mystica sigificatione vocum vu [無], non ens; yeu-vu [有無], ens et non ens; et tai-hiu [太虛] — inane ter maximum, vel ter maximum immateriale (pp. 30–34).
8. Blank sheet (p. 40).

The second paragraph (pp. 41–70) bears the title: “De veteri chronico sinarum ubi demonstratur. 1.° Fohi 伏羲 1um Sinarum legislatorum, eundem ac S. Patr. Enochum. 2.° Diluvium Sinis notum, idem esse ac diluvium Noeticum.” On page 43, Bouvet draws a diagram where he presents Adam as Pan cu 盤古, Seth as Tien hoam 天皇, Enos as Ti hoam 地皇, Cain as Gin hoam 人皇, Malaléël as Yeu chao 有巢, Jared as Sui gin 燧人, Enoch as Fohi 伏羲, Mathusala as Xin num 神農, Lameth as Hoam ti 皇帝, Noe as Ti yao 帝堯. This is followed by “Diluvium in traditione sinensi memorandum idem ac diluvium Noëticum” (pp. 50–70), and four blank sheets (pp. 71–74).

The third paragraph (pp. 75–106) is entitled “De genuine priscorum sinarum doctrina ubi demonstratur. 1.o In eorum Libris canonicis non agi nisi de sapientia divina & eius sancta Lege nomine Tao [道] appellata. 2.o Divinam legem in libris canonicis contentam complecti notiones essentiales triplicis mundi status, i.e. mundi initio a Deo creati cum summa perfectione, deinde per Angeli & hominis inobedientia corrupti, ac demum a Deo ipso Incarnato reparati.” Page 75 starts with “Totam librorum canonicorum doctrinam voce tao comprehendi, nec esse diversam a Lege divina, et habere pro objecto eius divinum Auctorem.” At the end there are two blank sheets (pp. 107–108).

The fourth paragraph (pp. 109–148) bears the title: “De tertio mundi statu, seu de reparatione generis humani ac Domino eius Reparatore. Iuxta veteres sinarum traditiones” with the following contents:

1. Heutien [後天] seu caeli posterioris formator, id est: mundi Redemptor est Deum homo. 周易大全圖說 (Zhouyi daquan tushuo) (p. 109).
2. Diversa Xim gin [聖人] seu sancti nomina clare designant mundi Redemptor (p. 113).
3. Sanctus omniscius 論衡 : 世無聖人,不能知天 (Lunheng) (p. 118).
4. Sanctus Altissimus et humillimus. 易或 : 謙謙坤德, 聖人之至德也 (Yihuo) (p. 119).
5. Unus affectuum dominus perfecte sanctus, et principuum justitiae hominum. 禮記 : 中心安仁者,天下一人而已矣 (Liji) (p. 120).
6. Immunis ab omni peccato, satisfacit pro omnium peccatis. 易 :無咎者,善補過也 (Yijing) (p. 121).
7. Sancto coelitus imposita paciendi neccesitas. 孟子: 故天將降大任於斯人也 (Mengzi), etc. (p. 123).
8. Mortis sancti Salvatoris. 易損卦 : 損上益下,民說無疆,自上下下,其道大光 (Yijing) (p. 125).
9. Sancti in poenis invicta constantia. 事文類聚:斷火三日,謂去冬至,一百四日,五日,六日也。起於周舉,至唐時盛興之 (Shiwen leiju) (p. 126).
10. Triduum eius passionis et mortis. 禮記:親始死,水槳不入口,三日不舉火,又 … 三日而後斂者,以俟其生也 (Liji) (p. 127).
11. Sancto in coelum regresso, publicatio evangelium, omnium gentium convertio et via coeli aperta. ([Yiwei] Qianzuodu and Yijing) (p. 130).
12. Publicatio evangelii et gentium per operationem Spiritus Sancti. (Yijing)(p. 132).
13. Regeneratio per baptismum. (Yijing) (p. 135).
14. De immortalitate animae et aeternitate aut mortis iustorum et peccatorum, iusto sancti iudicio, in fine singulis decernenda. (Guanyinzi) (p. 138).

The fifth paragraph (pp. 149–189) bears the title: “De ratione symbolica & hieroglyphica libri Ye kim 易經 et caeterorum librorum canonicorum ubi de praecipuis symbolis messiam Salvatorem praefigurantibus; Necnon de stella prodigiosa, quae eius nativitatem, et de eclipsi portentosa, quae eius mortem universo orbi annuntiaverunt.” The contents are:

1. Mysticum libri Ye kim systema, est veluti compendiosum totius naturae exemplar sub technicis hieroglyphorum figuris recondes easdem Sanctae Legis notiones, quas prisci sapientias in immenso universi volumine olim contemplabantur sub symbolis rerum naturalium rationibus (p. 149).
2. Rationes symbolicae coeli, polis, stellis et planetis annexae (p. 155).
3. Quatuor animalia coelestia symbola Salvatoris. 十三經:麟鳳五靈,王者之嘉瑞也。疏:麟鳳與龜龍白虎,五者神靈之鳥獸,王者之嘉瑞也 (Shisanjing) (p. 164).
4. Unicornis Kilin symbolum Salvatoris (reference from Lushi 路史: 麟難紀) (p. 167).
5. Stella Epiphaniae in Sinarum monumentis veluti propheticis oraculis clare consignata. 綱鑑大全:舜帝時景星出,慶雲興 (Gangjian Daquan) (p. 178).

In the last paragraph (p. 189), Bouvet says:

Cum vix nunc mihi supersit tantum temporis quamtum requirit compendium computorum totius systematis chronologici Regum predictorum numero 120. praedicti chronici, quorum Regni duratio exhausit cum perfecta praecisione integram periodum figurae rotundae 64. hexagrammatum libri Ye kim, quam periodum contendo continere verum annorum imo et dierum numerum a interjectorum inter diem creationis mundi et diem quo Christus morte sua Redempto genere humano in coelum ascendit: nunc omissa paragraphi 6.ti expositione; ne lector rei novitate attonitus, existimet eius argumentum non posse esse in nulla soliditate fundamentum; his scriptis subjungo pro ultimo quaternione, expositionem unius odae valde singularis de quodam Herae seu sancto nomine Heu çie 後稷, vulgo habito pro tuneo radicali dynastiae Cheu, cuius lectio suadebit confido, quemcumque, non hunc solum esse vere eximium messiae Salvatoris typum propheticum, sed etiam plures alios similes occurere in veteribus Sinarum monumentis.

If we look at the bibliography taken from this writing of Bouvet, there is no doubt that he had made a great effort to pursue his studies. They are not simply ‘ineptiae’ (absurdities), as Wieger called them. Bouvet was a scholar and a seeker of the truth. His writings as we have seen, had caused some of his confreres’ uneasiness, but at the same time there were others who were in his favor.

The Chinese books quoted in Bouvet’s manuscript are [in source's original Wade-Giles romanization]:

Tzu-chih t'ung-chien 資治通鑑, Chu-ching k'ao-i 諸經考異, T'u-shu pien 圖書編,Chou-I chuan 周易傅, Ta-hsüeh yen-i pu 大學衍義補, Hsün-tzu 苟子, Shih-chi 史記, Ch'un-ch'iu Tso-chuan 春秋左傅, Mo-tzu 墨子, Huai-nan-tzu 准南子,Ch'un-ch'iu ta-ch'üan 春秋大全, Li-chi 禮記, Tung-tzu 董子, Lao-tzui i 老子翼, Lao-tzu 老子, Chuang-tzu 莊子, Yü-chih Chou-I che-chung 御製周易折中, Lieh-tzu 列子, Ho-kuan-tzu 鵲冠子, Shuo-wen tzu-yüan 說文字原, I-huo 易或, Shu-ching 書經, Lü-shih ch'un-ch'iu 呂氏春秋, Tao-te ching chih-kuei 道德經指歸, Hsing-li cheng-meng chi-shih 性理正蒙集釋, P'ei-wen yün-fu 佩文韻府, Chou-I t'u-shuo 周易圖說, Liu-ching t'u 六經圖, Nan-hua fu Mo 南華副墨, Lu-shih 路史, Shuoyüan 說苑, Liu-shu ching-yün 六書精蘊, T'ung-chien kang-mu yüan-shih 通鑑綱目原始, Kang-mu ch'ien-pien pien-i 綱目前編辨疑, Li Kuang-ti tsou che 李光地奏摺, Tzu-hui 字彙, Huai-nan hung-lieh chieh 准南鴻烈解, Lu-shih hou-chi 路史後記, Kung-yang chuan 公羊傳,Ku-liang chuan 穀梁傳, Ssu-shu k'ao 四書考, Chia I Hsin-shu 賈誼新書, Chin-k'uei 金宜, Chu 朱子, T'ung-chih 通志, Shan-hai ching 山海經, Chung-yung 中庸, Hsi-yüan yüeh-yen 西原約言, I cheng-i 易正議, I-wei Ch'ien-tso-tu 易緯乾鑿度, Kuei-yen-tzu 桂巖子, Feng-su t'ung 風通俗, Ta-hsüeh 大學, Chou-I t'u-shuo shu 周易圖說述, Hsiang-hsiang kuan-chien 像象管見, Yen-tzu 晏子, Ch'ien-ch 'üeh lei-shu 潛確類書, Pao-p'u-tzu 抱朴子, Shuo-wen 說文, Hsüan-chung chi 玄中記, Ch'u-tz'u wai-kuo t'u 楚辭外國圖, Lun-yü 論語, Shao-tzu 邵子, Erh Ch'eng i-shu 二程遺書, Yang-tzu chu 揚子註, Kuei-ku-tzu 鬼谷子, Meng-tzu 孟子, Hsing-li hui-t'ung 性理會遇, Wang Pi /-chieh 王粥易解, Pai-hu t'ung 自虎通, T’ai-p’ing yü-lan 太平御覽,Shuo-fu 說邪, Lun-heng 論衡, Lao-tzu Su chu 老子蘇注, Pu-te-i pien 不得已辯,K'uai-shu 快書, Han-shih wai-chuan 韓詩外傅, I-t'ung chih 一統志, Shih-wen lei-chü 事文類聚, Chou-I ku-pen 周易古本, Ta-tsai li, nei-ching 大戴禮內經, I Lai Chih-te chu 易來知德註, Kuan-yin-tzu 關尹子, Han-shu i-wen chih hsü 漢書藝文志序, Yü-p'i ku-wen yüan-chien 御批古文淵鑒, Wen-hsien t'ung-k'ao 文獻通考, Yen-t'ieh lun 鹽鐵論, Shih-wu yüan-shih 事物原始, Yüe-ling kuang-i 月令廣義, Jui-ying t'u 瑞應圖, Cheng-tzu t'ung 正字通, Ch'un-ch'iu yün-tou shu 春秋運斗樞, K'ung-ts'ung-tzu 孔叢子, Ch'un-ch'iu kan-ching fu 春秋感精符,Shih-wu kan-chu 事物紺珠, Hsing-ching 星經, P'i-ya 埠雅, Li han wen chia 禮合文嘉, Han-shu t'ien-wen chih 漢書天文志, Sui-shu t'ien-wen chih 隋書天文志, Erh-ya i 爾雅翼, Chan-shu 占書, Ch'un-ch'iu K'ung Yen t'u 春秋孔演圖and Hou Han-shu 後漢書.

Online at ARSI via Internet Archive.
Local access dig.pdf. in ARSI Jap-Sin I-IV Folder under: Jap-Sin IV, 5A

Subject(s)Bouvet, Joachim 白晉, 1656-1730--Writings on Figurism
Figurism--China--Sources
Yijing 易經--Figurist interpretations
Yijing 易經--Commentaries--Catholic authors
Rec. TypeManuscript (pdf)LanguageLatin, Chinese
CollectionARSI, and Ricci Institute LibraryRec. #19640