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Ershiwu yan 二十五言. [Jap-Sin I, 53.1. Borg. Cin. 350 (8)]
AuthorRicci, Matteo 利瑪竇, 1552-1610
Pub. Location---Publisher---
Date2001Phys. Desc.CD-ROM
LocationDigital ArchivesCall NumberBV3427.R46 E785 2001cd
" .... Matteo Ricci 利瑪竇 created the prototypes of humanistic writings which proclaimed wisdom from the West on the basis of sayings by “ancient saints and sages”. These writings are typical of the late Ming approach and virtually disappeared under the Qing. Ricci’s Jiaoyou lun 交友論 (1595) and Ershiwu yan 二十五言 (1605) were explicitly written for a general, non-Christian readership, and comprises short passages translated or paraphrased from classical European sources....[Ershiwu yan] is basically a translation of a Latin version of Epictetus’ Encheiridion, with some additions made by Ricci .... " --Cf. Standaert, Handbook of Christianity in China, vol. 1, p. 605.

Online edition: Vatican Library [Borg.Cin. 350.96] with bio-bibliography on Ricci at Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong.

[Notes for ARSI editions]
JapSin I, 53.1
Erh-shih-wu yen [Ershiwu yan] 二十五言
By Li Ma-tou (Li Madou 利瑪竇, Matteo Ricci).
One juan (fifteen folios), Chinese bamboo paper. Edited by Wang Ruchun 汪汝淳 of Xindu 新都 (Zhejiang). No date or place of publication.

There is a preface by Feng Yingjing 馮應京, written in Wanli 32 (1604, 甲辰) on the occasion of a new edition. The beginning of folio 1 bears the title of the treatise and below there is an inscription: 太西利瑪竇述 (Narrated by Li Madou of the Great West), 新都後學汪汝淳較梓(Proofread and edited by Wang Ruchun of Xindu).
Each half folio contains ten columns and there are twenty characters in the first line of each paragraph and nineteen in the other lines. The upper middle of the folio bears the title of the book and below the number of the folio is given.
The treatise ends with a postscript by Xu Guangqi 徐光啟, dated Wanli 32 (1604), who indicates that part of the manuscript of the Ershiwu yan was written at Nanjing in the years 1599–1600 (cf. FR 2:97, note).
Feng Yingjing is said to have read a more polished and complete version, when he was in detention (1604). He was so impressed that he offered to have it published and gave it the title Ershiwu yan (The Book of Twenty-five Paragraphs) in contrast with the Buddhist scripture Sishi’er zhang jing 四十二章經 (The Sutra in Forty-two Sections). In his opinion, the former is far superior to the latter.
Although there is neither date nor place of publication, the first folio gives the name of the editor, Wang Ruchun of Xindu (see above). In 1607 he published Ricci’s Tianzhu shiyi 天主實義 at the Yanyitang 燕貽堂 (cf. Jap-Sin I, 44, 45). We may conclude that this edition was also published in Hangzhou and perhaps shortly after 1607.
Courant in his catalogue (no. 3376) mentions a Qinyitang 欽一堂 (Fuzhou, Fujian) edition, of which the Vatican Library also possesses two copies (Borgia Cinese 350.26 and 512.3). According to the catalogue the date of publication is 萬曆甲寅 (寅 is a mistake for 辰, 1604).
According to the preface of Feng Yingjing the Ershiwu yan was re-engraved in Beijing in 1604. It is unlikely that this same book was simultaneously published in Fujian. Both Xu Zongze (1949, p. 473) and Luo Guang (p. 171) assign the date of the first edition of this treatise to the year 1604. But the preface of Feng Yingjing clearly states that this was a re-engraved edition (重刻). Our judgement is therefore suspended until further research.
Christopher A. Spalatin, S.J. published in 1975 "Matteo Ricci’s Use of Epictetus," (Excerpta ex dissertatione, Gregorian University, Rome), Waegwan, Korea, 1975, pp. 7–101. The author tries to prove that the Ershiwu yan of Ricci was a translation from Epictetus with some modification.
The scholar Wang Kentang 王肯堂 incorporated this treatise in juan 3 of his Yugangzhai bizhu 鬱岡齋筆麈 and changed its title to Jinyan 近言. “Mr. Li [Ricci] give me a copy of the Jinyan,” wrote Wang in his book, “. . . I therefore copied a few of the sentences and I keep them by my desk.” Actually, he published fourteen sentences in his book. His opinion of this treatise was that “it seems to be simple, but it has a profound meaning behind it.” As in the Jiaoyou lun (cf. Jap-Sin I, 49 and 53.2), which he also published, he made alterations in Ricci’s original work, which one can notice at once when comparing the two texts (cf. FR 2:286–289).

JapSin I, 53 B
Erh-shih-wu yen [Ershiwu yan] 二十五言
By Li Ma-tou (Li Madou 利瑪竇, Matteo Ricci).
One juan (fifteen folios), one volume.
Chinese bamboo paper. Edited by Wang Ruchun 汪汝淳 of Xindu 新都 (Zhejiang). No date or place of publication.
The cover bears a label with the Chinese title, which the Latin inscription translates as: “25 Sententiae a p. Matth Ricci, S.J.”

This book is a duplicate of Jap-Sin I, 53.1, although a careful examination shows that the engraved Chinese characters are not exactly the same. Jap-Sin I, 53.1 is undoubtedly a finer edition, while the characters in 53 B seem to be blurred. Probably the engraving of the wooden blocks was based on the edition of 53.1. The postscript by Xu Guangqi comes after the preface of Feng Yingjing, while in 53.1 it is found at the end of the book. The upper and lower margins of this book are narrower than in the other edition.

Source: Albert Chan, S.J., Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives: Japonica-Sinica I-IV, p. 84-86, 90.

Subject(s)Christian ethics--Catholic authors
Stoic philosophy--Translations into Chinese
Epictetus. Enchiridion (Manual)--Translations into Chinese
Rec. TypeDigital BookLanguageChinese 中文
CollectionRicci Institute LibraryRec. #2868