December 2020: New Study of Giulio Aleni’s “The Four Character Classic” (四字經文)

Anthony E. Clarke has published A Chinese Jesuit Catechism: Giulio Aleni’s Four Character Classic 四字經, serving as the first scholarly study of the famous Jesuit Chinese children’s primer.


A professor of Chinese history at Whitworth University, Clarke provides what the publisher Palgrave notes are “masterful translations of both Wang Yinglin’s (1551–1602) hallowed Confucian Three Character Classic and Aleni’s Chinese catechism that was published during the Qing (1644–1911).”


Palgrave continues that “Clark’s careful reading of the Four Character Classic provides new insights into an area of the Jesuit mission in early modern China that has so far been given little attention, the education of children. This book underscores how Aleni’s published work functions as a good example of the Jesuit use of normative Chinese print culture to serve the catechetical exigencies of the Catholic mission in East Asia, particularly his meticulous imitation of Confucian children’s primers to promote decidedly Christian content.”


More information is available at the publisher’s website:

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