Constructed Realities in the Study of Religion? Considerations on the Margin of Judaism’s Reception in Present-Day China

Alina Patru, Clementina Alexandra Mihăilescu

Abstract


The aim of this study is twofold. Firstly, it intends to highlight the value of constructivist insights for religious studies by showing that various forms of approach to issues related to religion are mere constructs. In contrast to this viewpoint, the discipline of religious studies had traditionally sought a higher degree of objectivity in the scientific reflection of religious topics, but that has been a fraught path. Secondly, the example it refers to is worthy in itself. The reception of Judaism in contemporary China is not only an under-investigated topic endowed with a great potential to reveal to what extent the Chinese ordinary man as well as the academic succeed to understand Western thought and to differentiate among the varied cultural traditions generally subsumed by them under the notion Western, but it also shows that the constructivist approaches preserve their validity in non-European contexts as well. Judaism’s reception in contemporary China will be pursued on four different levels: popular literature, fake books, articles in the Christian Chinese media and academic productions. The four categories of texts represent four different degrees of comprehension of the object of study, primarily offering information about the worldviews of the authors of the texts. The process of reception of thought is regarded as a form of encounter where the active part is striving to get out of its own mindset and move towards the other.


Keywords


religious studies, constructivism, objectivity, Wertfreiheit, Judaism, anti-Semitism, China, Chinese media, Chinese literature, reception.

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