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Understanding Chinese Religions

Joachim Gentz

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Product Details
24 Jan 2013
Dunedin Academic Press
181 pages - 138 x 216 x 17mm
Understanding Faith
Chinese religions are often represented as a unity in which each tradition possesses a number of features typical of a Chinese religious system. Some of these features have been described as non-religious, so that from the 17th century there has been debate in Europe as to whether religion in China exists at all or whether what appear as 'Chinese religions' are not atheistic, purely functional, superstitious cults and rituals. However Chinese religions have long been of interest and fascination for Western scholars. Abundant historical material makes Chinese religions a highly interesting case. With their entirely different philosophical and political context Chinese religions are a challenging field of analysis for Western systematic questions and theories of religion. There is a rich and expanding scholarship in Chinese religions. At the same time, Chinese religions provide students with new and challenging perspectives on the nature of reality, environmental contexts, health, and different types of self-awareness. These provoke the question as to whether it is not the Western religious tradition that is an exception amongst the religious traditions of the world. Joachim Gentz explains some systematic problems related to Chinese religions and examines the roots of stereotypes associated with Chinese religions. He then offers a new systematic approach to explain Chinese religions before presenting the main religious traditions in their historical perspective.
Preface. Timeline of Important Events. Introduction. 1. What is Chinese Religion(s); 2. Landscape of Religions in China; 3. Ancient Religion; 4. Confucianism; 5. Daoism; 6. Buddhism; 7. Popular Religion; 8. Understanding Religion and Secularisation in Modern China. Bibliography. Index.
Joachim Gentz is Reader of Chinese at the University of Edinburgh.

‘Drawing on vast scholarly literature in English and German, Understanding Chinese Religions deepens the historical perspective on religious traditions in China, explains basic problems in understanding Chinese religions, and illuminates critical lessons about complex religious issues that are still pervasive and relevant in contemporary China. By associating Confucianism with the moral cultivation of the self, Daoism with the immortality of the self, Buddhism with the extinction of the self, and Chinese popular religion with communal and personal welfare, the book presents the main notions of Chinese religions in both Chinese and Western terms for students of comparative religion. Sensitive to the intricate details of Chinese religions in particular and mindful of the Chinese religious landscape at large, this is an introductory book of a high caliber.’
China Review International

‘… the book is a welcome addition to a growing body of volumes that survey the complex and changing religious landscape of China. The author is able to showcase his considerable knowledge of key issues and developments, and the level of scholarship tends to be quite good. He also articulates useful conceptual frameworks for thinking about Chinese religion, both at the level of individual traditions as well as in terms of a more or less integrated religious system. These, along with a number of insightful analyses, are the book’s strongest points… students… the book has a number of good qualities, and I hope it will find its way into the hands of many readers interested in Chinese religions.’
Journal of Chinese Religions

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