News from the USCCA and the church in China

"A Chinese Jesuit Catechism: Giulio Aleni’s Four Character Classic 四字經文"


This book is the first scholarly study of the Four Character Classic, a children’s primer written by Giulio Aleni, SJ (1582–1649) when the famous Jesuit missionary was living in Fujian, China. Clark underscores how Aleni’s published work made creative use of existing pedagogical styles in Chinese culture to serve the catechetical exigencies of the Catholic mission in East Asia. He meticulously followed the expositional style of Confucian children’s primers, wedding them with Christian content and vision.


This book also includes masterful translations of Wang Yinglin’s (1551–1602) hallowed Confucian Three Character Classic and of Aleni’s Chinese catechism, which was published during the Qing Dynasty. 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.


Anthony E. Clark is Professor of Chinese History and Edward B. Lindaman Endowed Chair at Whitworth University. He is the author of several books, including China’s Catholics in an Era of Transformation (2020), China Gothic: The Bishop of Beijing and His Cathedral (2019), and Heaven in Conflict: Franciscans and the Boxer Uprising in Shanxi (2015). Dr. Clark is an Emeritus Director on the Board of the USCCA.