International Monumenta Serica Symposium: Encounter between Christianity and Daoism: Classics, Interpretation and Dialogues (2020 年華裔學志國際會議: 基督宗教與道家/道教的會遇: 經典、詮釋與對話)

Zbigniew Wesołowski SVD (Wei Siqi 魏思齊) :

“John C.H. Wu (1899–1986) and His Translations of Daodejing: Some Spiritual Dimensions” (online lecture), September 23, 2020

Monumenta Serica Sinological Research Center at Fu Jen Catholic University (Taiwan), Monumenta Serica Institute, Sankt Augustin (Germany), Department of Religious Studies at Fu Jen Catholic University, and Department of Sinology at the University of Warsaw (Poland)


John C. H. Wu (Wu Ching-hsiung [Wu Jingxiong] 吳經熊, 1899–1986) was lawyer, philosopher of law, educator, and a prominent Chinese Catholic convert in the 20th century. He first became a Methodist Christian, baptized in the winter 1917 at the Comparative Law School of China in Shanghai, run by the American Methodist Mission, and converted to Catholicism twenty years later, on December 18, 1937 by conditional baptism at the Catholic Aurora University in Shanghai after reading of the autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873–1897). Wu authored numerous articles and books on various subjects including law, philosophy, and religion. He translated the Psalms (Shengyong yiyi 聖詠譯義, 1946) and the New Testament (Xinjing quanqi 新經全集, 1949) into Classical Chinese. Before that time, he also translated Daodejing 道德經/Laozi 老子. His translation was first published in three parts in the T’ien Hsia Monthly (1939–1940), and then in book form in 1961, the latter obviously being a carefully revised version of the first rendering. Wu Jingxiong was equally at home in both Eastern and Western cultures and languages. That is why his translations of Laozi’s philosophy should reflect both – Chinese and Christian – spiritual traditions. The author of this contribution investigates how the two traditions are reflected in Wu’s translation and explicates some spiritual dimensions within John Wu’s English version of the Daodejing, such as, e.g., his self-understanding as a Christian and his understanding of Daoism (Daodejing) and the discovery of a great affinity between Laozi’s mysticism and St. Thérèse’s spirituality.