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Bianji 辨祭. [Jap-Sin I, (38/42) 40/6a]
AuthorYan Mo 嚴謨, b.1640?
Pub. LocationTaibei 臺北PublisherTaipei Ricci Institute 利氏學社
Date2002Phys. Desc.pp.47-60 ; 22 cm.
LocationHallway CasesCall NumberBX1665.A2 Y47 2002 v. 11
Bianji 辨祭 : [jinqi chaoben 近期抄本] / [Yan Mo zhu 嚴謨著].

JapSin I, (38/42) 40/6a
Bianji 辨祭.
By Yan Mo 嚴謨.
Manuscript, folios 1–11. Chinese bamboo paper, one volume. 24 x 14 cm.

The cover bears the title Sidian 祀典 (cf. 40/7a) and a Portuguese inscription: “Refutação do Trattado do P’ien Çi do R.P.Fr. Franco Varo. 3o M.S. Sinico.”
The beginning of folio 1 gives the title Bianji 辨祭, with two lines in small characters: 此辨字別也非原辯字駁也 (Here the character 辨 has the meaning “to distinguish,” not 辯, as is found in the original [of Varo’s work], which means “to find fault with”). Below it there is the inscription: “Exposed by Paul Yan Mo, native of Zhangzhou and a disciple of the holy [Catholic] religion.”
The first paragraph of the manuscript serves as a preface in which the author explains why the book was written. He criticized the Bianji of Varo, while recognizing it as a book full of zeal and of good intentions. He laments that the author did not fully understand Chinese tradition and says that this is the source of his mistakes. “When one wishes to discuss the word sacrifice one must first make distinction about what sacrifice means 愈謂欲辯祭先當辨祭 (pp.1–2).
The manuscript gives in great detail the meaning of the character ji 祭 (sacrifice). There is a wide sense of the word sacrifice and a strict sense. Sacrifice in the strict sense comes from the interior of the soul and is expressed by external rites; even this can be divided into different categories. He then makes clear that in offering sacrifice to God one employs the proper ritual that is due to God, such as we see in the sacrifice of the Mass which can be performed only by the priests. Again in the old days the jiaotian 郊天 (sacrifice to Heaven) was offered only by the emperor.
There is also the sacrifice made to the ancestors. This is a ceremony directed to one’s own ancestors, as we see them done nowadays. These are quite different from one another. In the case of the last it is sufficient to know that the veneration for ancestors comes from filial piety and has nothing to do with praying for blessings - which would be an usurpation indeed. There is no need to worry excessively or to give wrong interpretations.
It was the common opinion of the Christian scholars of the time that a number of the European missioners neglected the study of Chinese writings, and that this had led to wrong interpretations of Chinese usages. Yan Mo was only one of these scholars. Here is what he had to say on Francisco Varo:
He does not base his argument on the original meaning of the word sacrifice, nor has he made a study of the Zhuwen 祝文 (the forms of invocation) written throughout the centuries. He has only picked out one or two ambiguous phrases from the Classics knowing nothing of the original meaning and not trying to arrive at an intelligent understanding of its context, but simply weaving together what he finds into a plot. For him the thing seems to be too easy!
Source: Albert Chan, SJ, Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 51-52.
Subject(s)Varo, Francisco 萬濟國, 1627-1687. Bianji 辯祭--Criticism and interpretation
Ancestor worship--China--Religious aspects
Ancestor worship--China--History--Western views and opinions
Chinese Rites controversy--Sources
Ji 祭 (Sacrifice)
SeriesChinese Christian texts from the Roman Archives of the Society of Jesus ; v. 11
Yesuhui Luoma dang'anguan Ming-Qing Tianzhujiao wenxian 耶穌會羅馬檔案館明清天主教文獻 ; 第11冊
Rec. TypeBookLanguageChinese 中文
CollectionRicci Institute LibraryEdition初版Rec. #5327