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Christianity

AsiaJesuit Accommodation, Asian Inculturation, Bibliography

Since the 1970s, the study of Christianity in Asia has been transformed by new approaches in which the scholarly perspective has become less Eurocentric and more Asian. Particularly in regard to China, Western missionary sources have given way to Chinese sources while the meaning of Christianity has been broadened beyond a narrow religious content to include Asian cultural elements.

The history of Christianity in Asia begins with the unconfirmed legend that St. Thomas, one of the original Twelve Disciples, carried the teaching as a missionary to the southwest coast of India. By the third century, Nestorian Christians of the Syrian church were well established in the Malabar Coast region of India. When the Portuguese began landing in India in 1498, they encountered a group of approximately 100,000 St. Thomas Christians.

Christianity in East Asia dates from the arrival of the missionary Aluoben in the Tang capital of Changan in 635. This Nestorian church in China grew with imperial support until it peaked in 781 and then was destroyed in the anti-Buddhist persecution of 845. The period of continuous and sustained development of Christianity in China dates from the entry of Jesuit missionaries in 1580. It was the result of European global voyages, Catholic Reformation fervor, and Chinese receptivity in the syncretic cultural atmosphere of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

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