Volume 16, Issue 2, 2019
Conceptual History: China, Asia, and the Global
Preaching the Gospel in China
Changes in the Concept of “Gospel” since the 17th Century
This paper focuses on the change of the meaning of “gospel” in Chinese context since the 17th Century. In the late Ming dynasty, Catholic missionaries were the first to translate “gospel” into Chinese with their writings about the Bible. Then the term became intermingled with traditional Chinese belief of seeking blessings. After the ban on Christianity imposed by the Emperor Yong Zheng, Chinese Catholics hid their faith and disguised it as Buddhism, Taoism and folk religions. At the end of the 19th century, “gospel” was connected to colonialism and became a trigger for Sino-Western conflict. The critique of and hostility toward the term abruptly arose. In the 20th century, “gospel” turned into a new concept, which went beyond its religious connotation and gradually referred to all kinds of “good news”.