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Tianzhu (Chinese name of God)

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Title: Tianzhu (Chinese name of God)  
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Subject: Doctrina Christiana, Names of God in China, Chinese Rites controversy, Shangdi, Tianzhu
Collection: Names of God, Religion in China
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Tianzhu (Chinese name of God)

Tianzhu (Chinese: 天主, Tiānzhǔ), meaning "Heavenly Master" or "Lord of Heaven," was the Chinese word used by the Jesuit China missions to designate God.[1]


  • History 1
  • See also 2
  • Notes 3
  • Further reading 4


The word first appeared in Michele Ruggieri's Chinese translation of the Decalogo, or Ten Commandments.[1] In 1584, Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci published their first catechism, Tiānzhǔ shílù (天主實錄, The Veritable Record of the Lord of Heaven).[2]

Matteo Ricci later wrote a catechism entitled Tiānzhŭ Shíyì (天主實義, The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven).[1][2]

Following the Chinese rites controversy, the term Tiānzhŭ was officially adopted by the Pope in 1715, who rejected alternative terms such as Tiān (天, "Heaven") and Shàngdì (上帝, "Supreme Emperor").[3]

"Catholicism" is most commonly rendered as Tiānzhǔjiào (天主教, "Religion of the Lord of Heaven"). An individual Catholic is Tiānzhŭjiào tú;[4] includes the meanings "disciple" and "believer."[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b c by Lionel M. Jensen p.73Manufacturing Confucianism: Chinese traditions & universal civilization
  2. ^ a b by John W. O'Malley p.365The Jesuits: cultures, sciences, and the arts, 1540-1773, Volume 1
  3. ^ by Fenggang Yang p.52Chinese Christians in America: conversion, assimilation, and adhesive identities
  4. ^ "Catholic", in Collins Chinese Concise Dictionary (2006), New York: HarperCollins.
  5. ^ "tú" in Collins Chinese Concise Dictionary (2006), New York: HarperCollins.

Further reading

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