|Bianji canping 辨祭參評 / Li Ximan zhu 李西滿著.|
Title varies slightly ("Bian"). Cover title: 辨祭參評 ; caption and running title: 辯祭參評.
No est. auth. for Li Liangjue 李良爵, pref. Li Yifen 李奕芬 (Leontiius), ca. 1635->1706. Cf. Standaert, Handbook of Christianity in China, v. 1., p. 401, 423.
JapSin I, (38/42) 40/5
Bianji canping 辯祭參評.
Communicated orally by Li Ximan (Simão Rodrigues, 1645–1707) 李西滿授 and written down by Li Liangjue 李良爵述.
Manuscript, sixty-nine folios (eleven chapters). One volume, Chinese bamboo paper. There are remarks in blue ink on the top margins of the folios and in the manuscript itself.
The cover gives the title 辨祭參評. Below the title we find the inscription: “Communicated orally by the Franciscan Li Andang” (Antonio S. M. Caballero). This inscription has been blotted out with ink. The Latin inscription reads: “Pien Çi, discursus de littera Çi [祭], auctore P. Antonio à S. Maria [“Antonio à S. Maria” is blotted out and replaced by “Varo”] cum annotationibus Li Kieu cum [‘Kieu cum’ is blotted out] seu Leantio petitis a Pa Li si muon. N.B. Li Leantius fuit Siam cum seu Amanuensis et domesticus ac cathechista Illmi D. Maygrot.”At the beginning of the book there is an introduction: 辯 (not 辨 as given on the cover) 祭參評引, dated Kangxi 20 (1681). It states that this book was a discussion between the missioners and the scholars of Fu’an 福安 (Fujian), designed to clarify the meaning of sacrifice. The introduction goes on to say that in the autumn of 1681 the missioner found among his books a manuscript entitled Bianji 辯祭, which, though orthodox in its views, had left out some minor points. Therefore it was necessary to clarify the meaning of sacrifice in order to make declarations. “I therefore committed my explanations orally to Master Li Liangjue. At the end of each question and answer I added one remark; hence the title Bianji canping. Presently I hope to present this book to our Vice-Provincial Father Bi Jia 畢嘉 (Bi Jia refers to Giandomenico Gabiani, zi 鐸民, 1623–1696, Vice-Provincial from May 1680 to June 1683 and from June 1689 to June 1692).
Li Liangjue (Li Leontius), according to the Latin inscription, was administrator, secretary and catechist of Mgr. Charles Maigrot (Yan Jiale 嚴加樂, or Yan Dang 嚴當, 1652–1730), Vicar Apostolic of Fujian. For the principal author of this book, Simão Rodrigues, see Jap-Sin I, (38/42) 40/2.
The book Bianji was written by Francisco Varo, O.P. (Wan Jiguo 萬濟國, 1627–1687), who came to China in 1649 (cf. Jap-Sin I, 116). It is a refutation of the respect paid to Confucius and the veneration of ancestors. According to Varo true sacrifice can be offered only to God. It would be an usurpation if this sacrifice were offered to any creature. In one of the marginal remarks of the Bianji canping we read:
This chapter is quite right. But we must take into consideration that the Catholic faith is not yet flourishing in China, while the veneration of ancestors and of Confucius have been practised for a long time. The people all know that this is Confucianism and therefore they should not disobey; furthermore, this veneration comes from an imperial order. It is necessary to find a way of reconciliation. Whether or not the practice is a transgression of God’s commandment, we have to leave to the judgement of learned theologians of the West. Let us hope for the best.We can see that Simão Rodrigues is cautious in his attitude toward the traditional practice of the Chinese, while Francisco Varo simply weighed the problem from a theologian’s viewpoint and condemned the Chinese practice as superstitious. Hence he argued vehemently against the Liji 禮記 and the interpretation of Zhu Xi 朱熹. Rodrigues in the marginal remarks points out the serious consequences that might result from this antagonism:
How are we going to preach the Gospel in China when we have already made ourselves enemies of Buddhism and Daoism and now we are beginning to be hostile to Confucianism. Beyond doubt we are looking for trouble!He proposed that missionaries should go slowly in criticizing; rather they should show their own reasonableness and let the Chinese compare and see their own errors and so be led to the truth (pp. 53–55).
There is a summary of the manuscript at the end of this treatise on pages 36 and 37. It was directed against the Bianji of Francisco Varo. Some of the matter in this treatise is taken from the Lishi tiaowen of Yan Mo (Jap-Sin I, [38/42] 40/2; e.g. pp. 20, 21 and 99).
Treatises against Francisco Varo’s Bianji were also written by Yan Mo, see Jap-Sin I, (38/42) 40/6a and 41/1.
Source: Albert Chan, SJ, Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 50-51.