|Yesuhui Luoma dang'anguan Ming-Qing Tianzhujiao wenxian / Edited by Nicolas Standaert [and] Adrian Dudink. Reproduction of original text in vol. 1 of this collection. See
Citation source: Albert Chan, S.J., Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 90-99.
Jap-Sin I, 189
Xinbian Xizhuguo Tianzhu shilu 新編西竺國天主實錄
By Luo Mingjian 羅明堅 (Michele Ruggieri).
One juan (thirty-nine folios), one volume. Thick Chinese bamboo paper.
Cloth cover, half leather, in European style.
The back of this book bears the title in golden letters: “P. Ruggieri | Doctrina | christiana.”
In the upper middle of the frontispiece there is a wood cut emblem of the Society of Jesus (IHS), surrounded by a verse taken from Psalm 112: † A SOLIS ORTV VSQUE AD OCCASVM LAVDABILE NOMEN DOMINI—PS:CXII. At the four corners of the emblem there are drawings of an oak branch with an acorn and two leaves. Below there are two lines in big Chinese characters: 天主實 | 錄正文. Above the emblem there is an inscription in Chinese: 解此番字周圍眞經. At the right of the emblem there is an inscription: 天主之名當中, and at the left: 益揚乾坤明教. For a photocopy of the frontispiece, see FR 1:196 (tavola X) [and figure 3 of the present catalogue]. On the opposite page there is an inscription by D’Elia:
Questo è la prima edizione del | 1o Catechismo cinese curato dal | P. Michele Ruggieri e finito di stampare a | Siauchin o Shiuhing verso il 26–29 nov. 1584. | Questo Jap Sin I, 189 è | lo stesso di Jap Sin I, 190. | Il primo non ha il nome dell’ autore | mentre il secondo lo ha = [Ruggieri] Michele | Uno studio su questo catechismo | è aparso in Arch. Hist. S.J. 1934, | pp. 193–222, ma l’autore dall’arti– | colo non conosceva allora che Jap Sin I, 190, che è un edizione posteriore (the last five words are erased with an annotation: correzioni fatte dal P. D’Elia, 21.XII.57) Preziosissimo. 15.9.34. cf. Tacchi Venturi: Opere storiche del P. Matteo Ricci II, 50–51.
The folios 1–2 contain an introduction by Ruggieri, dated Wanli 甲申歲 (1584), 秋八月望後三日. At the end there is no signature, but only the inscription: 天竺國僧書 (written by a monk from India). The first line of folio 3 reads: 新編西竺國天主實錄目錄 (An index of the newly compiled Tianzhu shilu of West India). This is followed by the titles of the sixteen chapters of the book. Folio 4 begins: 新編天主實錄, and below: 天竺國僧輯 (Compiled by a monk of India).
Each half folio contains nine columns with twenty characters in each column. The middle of each folio bears the title followed by the number of each folio.
At the end of the book the Ten Commandments (Zuchuan Tianzhu shijie 祖傳天主十誡) are given on a separate sheet (56 x 24 cm). On the top margin there is a pencil inscription in Latin: Fol. separatum de decalogo et salute animae. The end of this last folio bears the inscription:
Hoc folium continet traductionem sinicam Decalogi. Probabiliter missum est Romam e Sinis die 30 Nov. 1584, cf. Tacchi Venturi, Opere storiche del P. Matteo Ricci, 1913, II, p. 51. Contra id quod affirmat Wieger in Arch. Hist. S.J. 1932, p. 84, non habet annum (multo minus non habet 1582) impressionis. Probabilissime impressum est inter 10 sept. 1583 et mensem januar. 1584 in Sinis, cf. Arch. Hist. S.J. 1934, 194–195.
The Tianzhu shilu was written in the form of a dialogue, probably influenced by the method then in use in Europe (cf. Jap-Sin I, 43a). Its main point was to prove the existence of God and at the same time to disprove the superstitions of Buddhism. It also tried to explain why the missioners had entered religion. Moral problems and popular beliefs of the late Ming period were also discussed: choosing lucky days, divination, explanation of dreams, sodomy, concubinage, etc.
The Decalogue found at the end of the book consists of a long sheet with 18 columns of thirteen characters each. It was published together with the Our Father and the Hail Mary around the years 1583–1584. The last two prayers are no longer to be found. The Chinese characters are fairly large and they are in the written style and are printed in blue ink (so also Jap-Sin I, 190). Whether or not this was done intentionally, it bears great similarity to a Buddhist scripture.
The Tianzhu shilu is undoubtedly the first catechism written and published in Chinese, cf. Margiotti, p. 277. According to a letter from Ruggieri to the General of the Society of Jesus (25 January 1584), he had been preparing a catechism in Chinese for the past four years (Jap-Sin 9 II, f. 257v). According to D’Elia (FR 1:197, n. 2) the T’ien chu shih lu was based on the Latin catechism compiled in Macao in 1581 by Ruggieri and his fellow Jesuit, Pedro Gomez. This manuscript is now kept in the Biblioteca Nazionale di Roma (catalogue number: Ges. 1276). Tacchi Venturi, however, thought that the handwriting of this manuscript was not that of Ruggieri. Furthermore, D’Elia in his article (AHSI, 3, 1934, p. 219) estimated that the Latin manuscript contains above 15,000 words, while the Tianzhu shiyi has only 8,002 words. This is a big difference between the two. Then, we have a letter written by Ricci from Canton to the Jesuit General (November 30, 1584), in which he says that the Chinese edition of the Tianzhu shiyi is ready and that he is going to send it to Rome together with the translation of the Ten Commandments, the Our Father and the Hail Mary. He then goes on to say that because of the visit to Zhaoqing of Father Francisco Cabral, rector of Sao Paulo at Macao, he had to postpone the translation of this book into Latin or Italian. This perhaps can serve as a circumstantial evidence that the Chinese text was not a direct translation of the 1581 Latin manuscript.
This book is called xinbian 新編 (newly revised), in contradistinction to the original manuscript which circulated in 1580. When Ruggieri first went to Canton with the Portuguese merchants he must have had talks with the Chinese on the Christian religion. He probably had something prepared in Chinese to meet such occasions. In the Roman Jesuit Archive there is a Portuguese Chinese vocabulary (Jap-Sin I, 198) attributed to Ruggieri and Ricci. At the end of the manuscript there is a brief catechism in four and one-half folios. On folio 12v
there is a paragraph entitled 解釋聖水除前罪惡, which is substantially the same as Xinbian Tianzhu shilu, f. 28v (line 7) to 29r (line 5). Can this be the original of the Tianzhu shilu? This manuscript was never printed, but only circulated among Ruggieri’s Chinese friends. Ruggieri himself told the Jesuit general in his letter of 12 November 1581, that the Chinese mandarins called him shifu 師傅 (the great master), "because they read only one catechism [lit., doctrina] which I had composed last year to give them some general knowledge of our holy law, as much as they can take." (TV 2:403–404). Ruggieri arrived in Macao in the year 1579. His Chinese was then scanty. When he tried to compose his catechism he had to seek help from a Chinese, probably some student from the seminary (cf. TV 2:35 & n. 4). The manuscript catechism of four and one-half folios (Jap-Sin I, 198) is in the handwriting of a Chinese, badly written with a large number of mistakes [cf. Chan, p. 94]. This merely shows that the copyist was not a well educated man. The catechism had to be brief to suit the capacity of its readers, who had never heard anything like it. Communication for the first time was by no means easy.
The Xinbian Tianzhu shilu was written in Zhaoqing 肇慶 sometime before 1584 and Ruggieri was encouraged by his mandarin friends to have it published. He obtained permission from the Jesuit Visitor, then Alexander Valignano (cf. Jap-Sin 9, folio 257v). Publication, however, was postponed till the end of 1584, because it still had to be corrected and retouched for Chinese style.
In a letter, written on 5 December 1584, Francisco Cabral reported to Valignano on his visit to Zhaoqing the month before. He said that on 21 November he had baptized two Chinese, one of whom was a literary man (according to Ricci, a xiucai 秀才 or bachelor and a native of Fujian), who had been living in the house for four to five months and was teaching Chinese to the two priests (TV 2:118, 1:149). He was also helping to compile the Chinese catechism (TV 2:429). There can be no doubt that this man (Cabral mentions his name as Paolo) did the polishing of the style. Ricci in his letter to the Jesuit General (Guangzhou, 30 November 1584) mentions that he too had collaborated in this catechism: “un catechismo che habbiamo fatto in lettere china gia con la gratia del Sige stampato . . .” (Jap-Sin 9, folio 315).
The second convert whom Cabral baptized also seems to have taken part in this new catechism. He was a native of Zhaoqing, known by his Christian name Giovanni [John]; according to Ricci, his full name in Chinese was Cin Ni co (D’Elia could not make out the Chinese character of his family name: 陳，鄭，秦). In the middle of folio 26 we find the Chinese character 陳 at the bottom of the column. Did he put his name there while he was proofreading (as we still see proofreaders do in our days) and did the engraver cut it out on the wooden block? (cf. AHSI, 3, 1934, p. 202; TV 1:149, cf. 1:125–126).
Hsü Tsung-tse (1949, p. 141) observes that the Chinese of the Tianzhu shilu is clumsy and the terminology awkward. This was only natural, since this was the first attempt to translate something entirely new into Chinese and that by foreigners. If we bear in mind that nearly four centuries after the coming of Catholicism to China we still have so much difficulty in the translation of Catholic terms, we can perhaps readily excuse the imperfections of the first Chinese catechism. As an illustration we cite the following examples: 天人 for 天神 (angel), 祖公啞噹 for 原祖亞當 (Adam), [口 + 熱] 所 for 耶穌 (Jesus), 咽咈諾 (inferno) for 地獄 (hell) and 得道神仙 for 聖人 (saints).
The author of the book signs as 天竺國僧 (a monk from the Tianzhu country [India]), because the Chinese had never heard of Europe. D’Elia, however, did not agree in this explanation with Wieger, but said that the Japanese used to call the Jesuits Tenjiku jin 天竺人, hence Ruggieri and Ricci adopted this name (AHSI, 3, 1934, pp. 209–218). And because the Chinese did not know what a religious meant they chose the term seng 僧, (Buddhist monk) as the closest equivalent (cf. Jap-Sin I, 53.4).
In 1585 when the Provincial of Mexico wrote to the Jesuit General in Rome he quoted Alonso Sánchez of the Philippines, who had paid a visit to Guangzhou, as saying that 1,500 copies of the Tianzhu shilu had been printed (cf. Francisco Zambrano, S.J., Diccionario Bio-Bibliográfico de la Compañía de Jesús en Mexico, Mexico, 1962, Tomo II [siglo XVI, 1566–1600], p. 119, n. 57). The book enjoyed a wide circulation. Ricci says that they had given hundreds of copies to friends and that Catholicism was thus soon spread. Where the missioners could not penetrate, the book was able to convey the instruction (TV 1:134). He also says that several Chinese became Christians through reading the book (TV 2:55, 71). Between the years 1584 and 1585 the “ambassador” of Cochin China who happened to be in China, visited the Jesuits in their house and brought back with him a number of copies of the book. And in 1586 Valignano wrote to the Jesuit General that this Catechism in Chinese would be of use for the Japanese Buddhist monks. Indeed, he asked that a good number of copies to be sent to Japan (Jap-Sin 10, folio 214v, no. 10; cf. FR 1:379, n. 4).
According to Duarte de Sande (孟三德, 1531–1600) the Tianzhu shilu was reprinted several times in Korea and Japan around the year 1595. Ruggieri returned to Europe in 1588. He brought back with him the Tianzhu shilu in Latin and also his Latin translation of the Four Books, with the intention of having them published in Europe. This, however, was never realized due to the strong opposition of Valignano, who was aware that Ruggieri’s Chinese was never very good and that the book he had written, though widespread, was nevertheless imperfect. Furthermore, later on the Jesuits changed their Buddhist dress for that of the scholars and they no longer called themselves seng as in Ruggieri’s book. Valignano had set his eyes on Ricci, whom he thought far better at Chinese than Ruggieri (Jap-Sin 13, f. 46r, 46v [Japon. Epist. 1596–1599]). We are told that Valignano had given him an assignment to write a new catechism and this was published in its due time under the title Tianzhu shiyi 天主實義 (q.v.). By then Ruggieri’s book was no longer in use; even the stored copies were no longer distributed. Eventually the wooden blocks were destroyed.
Léon Wieger quotes Trigault as saying that in Jiangnan the missioners kept the wooden blocks of Ruggieri’s book and reprinted it on several occasions. Unfortunately, he does not give us the sources of his information and does not help us to find out whether the newly engraved book was an entirely new edition or was based on the old first edition of 1584 (Jap-Sin I, 190?). The new edition of the Tianzhu shengjiao shilu 天主聖教實錄 in Jap-Sin I, 54 and 55 (see below), was published after the death of Trigault (1628). The contents had been changed considerably. It was not quite the same as the original book.
Cf. Léon Wieger, “Notes sur la première catéchèse écrite en chinois, 1582–1584” in AHSI, 1, 1932, pp. 72–84; P.M. D’Elia, “Quadro storico-sinologico del primo libro di dottrina cristiana in cinese,” AHSI 3, 1934, pp. 193–222; JWC 1:65–71; Antonio Possevino, Bibliotheca Selecta (Romae, 1593), Liber IX, p. 581.
Source: Albert Chan, S.J., Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 90-96.