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How Does a Foreign Religion Thrive in an Indigenous Culture? A Comparative Study of the Spread of Foreign Religions in the Chinese-Speaking Cultural Sphere

Wei-Ding Tsai


Religion can be considered, on one hand, to be a human practice dependent on its own culture. On the other hand, religion is also a system of beliefs with a dogmatic character. Because religion has the tendency to preserve its cultural form, it therefore encounters a paradoxical problem of adaptation when it spreads within a foreign cultural area: How can an extending religion retain both its own cultural core as well as be adaptable and modifiable, in order to be accepted by other foreign cultures? Through a comparison of the history of the spread of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam within the Chinese-speaking cultural sphere before the early 1900s, this essay intends to shed light on the hermeneutic process of the intercultural adaptation of foreign religions.


religious conversion; hermeneutics; Buddhism; Christianity; Islam; Confucianism; China

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