The Filial Piety in the context of the Chinese rites controversy: François Noël's translation of Xiaojing

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This paper explores the first European translation of the Classic of Filial Piety (Xiaojing), entitled Hiao Kim (Filialis Observantia), a book published as the fifth part of the Jesuit François Noël's (1651-1729) Sinensis imperii libri classici sex (the six classics of the Chinese Empire, 1711), shortly after the failure of his mission to Rome for the Chinese rites controversy. Three points conclude this paper: firstly, we discover in Noël's translations and writings a shift of perspectives in interpreting Chinese philosophy: from metaphysics to morality. Secondly, Noël's translation of Xiaojing probably based on the commentaries of Lu Weiqi's (1587-1641) Xiaojing daquan (A complete annotated edition of the Classic of Filial Piety, 1663). Thirdly, we observe in his publications, similar to Joseph de Prémare (1666-1736), a triune structure of "zixue-jingxue- lixue" (philology-textology-philosophy) which enables Noel in formulating a morality centered argumentation of his Chinese philosophy (Philosophia Sinica, 1711).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-95
Number of pages29
JournalLogos and Pneuma - Chinese Journal of Theology
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec 1



  • Chinese philosophy
  • Chinese rites controversy
  • Filial Piety
  • The Jesuit François Noël
  • Translation of Chinese classics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies

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