Text and Context in the Modern History of Chinese Religions

Redemptive Societies and Their Sacred Texts


Text and Context in the Modern History of Chinese Religions: Redemptive Societies and Their Sacred Texts is an edited volume (Philip Clart, David Ownby, and Wang Chien-chuan) offering eight essays on the modern history of redemptive societies in China and Vietnam by an international cast of scholars. The focus of the volume is on the texts produced by the various groups, examining questions of textual production (spirit-writing), textual traditions (how to “modernize” traditional discourse), textual authority (the role of texts in making a master a master), and the distribution of texts (via China’s experience of “print capitalism”). Throughout, the goal is to explore in depth what some scholars have called the most vital aspect of Chinese religion during the Republican period.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Philip Clart, Ph.D. (1997), University of British Columbia, is Professor of Chinese Culture and History at Leipzig University, Germany. He works on popular religion and new religious movements in Taiwan, as well as literature and religions of late imperial China.
David Ownby, Ph.D. (1989), Harvard University, is Professor of History at the Université de Montréal. He has published books and articles on Chinese secret societies, Chinese religion, and contemporary Chinese intellectuals.
Wang Chien-chuan, Ph.D. (2003), National Chung Cheng University, is Assistant Professor at the Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology. His research focuses on Chinese popular religion, prophetic texts, late imperial popular religion, and contemporary Daoism, Buddhism, spirit-writing, and charity.
"For everybody interested in new religious movements in China, the new book edited by Philip Clart, David Ownby, and Wang Chien-chuan, Text and Context in the Modern History of Chinese Religions: Redemptive Societies and Their Sacred Texts is a gift."
-Massimo Introvigne in Bitter Winter, June 27th, 2020

"Clart and Ownby lament in the introduction that "redemptive societies" have thus far received essentially no mention in modern scholarly works of contemporary Chinese history. This volume certainly succeeds in addressing this problem." -Joseph Chadwin in Religious Studies Review, Vol. 46, No. 4 (December 2020)

"In brief, this volume is a collection of excellent, fine-grained case studies that will open the way for a comprehensive history of the production, distribution, and use of religious texts in modern China. This may still be on the distant horizon, but Text and Context brings it significantly closer by providing several methodological models and sets of questions that are sure to prove fruitful across the various religious traditions, and by showing how many fascinating sourcess there exist when one looks for them." - Vincent Goossaert in Journal of Chinese Religions, Vol. 49, No. 1 (May 2021)

On the Contributors

Philip Clart and David Ownby

1 Giving Believers Back Their Voice: Agency and Heresy in Late Imperial China
Barend J. ter Haar

2 The Composition and Distribution of the Scriptures of the Tongshanshe, with a Focus on the Ten Thousand Buddha Scripture (1917–1949)
Wang Chien-chuan Translated by David Ownby

3 The Religious Texts of the Moral Studies Society: Print Publications, Photographs, and Visual Presentations
Fan Chun-wu Translated by David Ownby

4 Science and Spirit-Writing: the Shanghai Lingxuehui 靈學會 and the Changing Fate of Spiritualism in Republican China
Matthias Schumann

5 Text and Context: a Tale of Two Masters
David Ownby

6 Transmission and Revision: Scripture Production in the Vietnamese Tứ Ân Hiếu Nghĩa Movement
Chung Yun-Ying (Translated by Philip Clart)

7 The Bible of the Great Cycle of Esotericism: from the Xiantiandao Tradition to a Cao Ðài Scripture in Colonial Vietnam
Jeremy Jammes and David A. Palmer

8 Text and Context in the Study of Spirit-Writing Cults: a Methodological Reflection on the Relationship of Ethnography and Philology
Philip Clart

All interested in the history and the contemporary state of Chinese religion, particularly the history of redemptive societies during the Republican period.
  • Collapse
  • Expand