Paradigm Shifts in Early and Modern Chinese Religion

A History


From the fifth century BC to the present and dealing with the Three Teachings (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism) as well as popular religion, this introduction to the eight-volume Early and Modern Chinese Religion explores key ideas and events in four periods of paradigm shift in the intertwined histories of Chinese religion, politics, and culture. It shows how, in the Chinese church-state, elite processes of rationalization, interiorization, and secularization are at work in every period of major change and how popular religion gradually emerges to a position of dominance by means of a long history of at once resisting, adapting to, and collaborating with elite-driven change. Topics covered include ritual, scripture, philosophy, state policy, medicine, sacred geography, gender, and the economy. It also serves as the basis for an on-line Coursera course.


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Table of contents


1 Intellectual Change in the Warring States and Han (481 BC–220 AD)
 1 Paradigm Shift in the Warring States
 2 The Attack on Shamanism
 3 The Emergence of Self-Cultivation Practice
 4 The Philosophical Preparation of Political Unity
 5 Han Religion
 6 Changing Theories of Illness

2 Religious Transformation in the Period of Division (220–589 AD)
 1 The Three Teachings and Shamanism
 2 Religious Communities
 3 Rituals
 4 Scriptures
 5 Literature
 6 Sacred Geography
 7 Popular Religion

3 Religion and Thought in the Song, Jin, and Yuan (960–1368)
 1 “Modern China”
 2 State Religion
 3 Local Society
 4 Daoism in the Song and Jin
 5 Buddhism in the Song
 6 Confucianism in the Song

4 Structuring Values 1850–2015
 1 Religion and Modernity
 2 Economics
 3 Science and Scientism
 4 Gender
 5 Spirit Writing, Redemptive Societies, and Charity Halls
 6 Charismatic Christianity

By Way of Conclusion
Bibliography of Chapters Cited


Based on the work of specialists but proposing a radically new way of looking at Chinese religious, political, and cultural history, this book is written for anyone interested in China.