The Luminous Way to the East offers a comprehensive survey of the historical, literary, epigraphic, and archaeological sources of the first stage of the Christian mission to China. It explores the complex and multifaceted process of the interaction with the different cultural and religious milieux that the Church of the East experienced in its diffusion throughout Central Asia and into China during the first millennium.
Matteo Nicolini-Zani provides an overview of the Christian presence in China during the Tang dynasty (618-907) by reconstructing the composition and organization of Christian communities, the geographical location of Christian monasteries, and the related historical events attested by the sources. Through a new and richly annotated English translation of the Chinese Christian texts produced in Tang China, the volume provides a documented look at what was the earliest, and perhaps the most extraordinary, encounter of Christianity with Chinese culture and religions (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism). It shows how East Syriac Christianity in its eastward expansion along the Silk Road from Persia to China was open to the adoption of other languages and imagery and was able to enculturate the Christian teaching into new cultural and religious forms without losing its identity.