Chapter 4 Buddhist-Christian Encounters: Robert Morrison and the Haichuang Buddhist Temple in Nineteenth-Century Canton

In: The Church as Safe Haven
Man-Shun Yeung
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This chapter evaluates Protestant missionary Robert Morrison’s (1782–1834) efforts to engage with teachers and followers of monastic Buddhism in nineteenth-century Canton (Guangzhou in Guangdong Province). From the early 18th to the mid-19th centuries, the Haichuang Buddhist Temple was known to Westerners as a unique venue for Chinese-Western cultural encounters. In addition to its reputation as a famous religious site, the temple printed and distributed large numbers of Buddhist texts, and served as a convenient entry point for Morrison to study Chinese Buddhism. Beginning with an account of the history of the Haichuang temple, this chapter draws on the “Haichuang texts” of the Morrison Collection to evaluate Morrison’s understanding of Chinese Buddhism, his personal interactions with the Haichuang inhabitants, and the wider context of Buddhist-Christian encounters in late imperial China.

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