Robert Morrison and the Protestant Plan for China


Christopher A. Daily

ISBN : 978-988-8208-03-6

Religion, Philosophy Royal Asiatic Society Great Britain and Ireland

August 2013

276 pages, 6″ x 9″

  • HK$395.00

Sent alone to China by the London Missionary Society in 1807, Robert Morrison (1782–1834) was one of the earliest Protestant missionaries in East Asia. During some 27 years in China, Macau and Malacca, he worked as a translator for the East India Company and founded an academy for converts and missionaries; independently, he translated the New Testament into Chinese and compiled the first Chinese-English dictionary. In the process, he was building the foundation of Chinese Protestant Christianity.

This book critically explores the preparations and strategies behind this first Protestant mission to China. It argues that, whilst introducing Protestantism into China, Morrison worked to a standard template developed by his tutor David Bogue at the Gosport Academy in England. By examining this template alongside Morrison’s archival collections, the book demonstrates the many ways in which Morrison’s influential mission must be seen within the historical and ideological contexts of British evangelism. The result is this new interpretation of the beginnings of Protestant Christianity in China.

Christopher A. Daily is a faculty member at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. He has held research fellowships from the East-West Center, University of Hawai‘i and the British Academy.

“Christopher Daily’s refreshingly original work turns Morrison’s role around to analyse it as the outcome of something hitherto ignored: the troubled search by British Dissenters for an effective missionary strategy and an appropriate missionary training. This carefully researched study is bound to become a landmark in the history of China, Britain, and the relations between the two countries.” —T. H. Barrett, Research Professor of East Asian History, SOAS, University of London, and author of Singular Listlessness: A Short History of Chinese Books and British Scholars

“Through a brilliant analysis of hitherto unexplored archival material, Christopher Daily offers important new insights into Robert Morrison’s missionary career at the gates of the Chinese Empire. This eminently readable book demonstrates with great clarity how the implementation of the Gosport ‘mission template’ was religiously observed by Morrison in an exceedingly hostile environment.” —R. G. Tiedemann, Professor of Chinese History, Shandong University, and editor of Handbook of Christianity in China, Vol. II

“Significant contribution to mission studies: a new analytic focus on the relationships and influences that drove the nineteenth-century century Protestant missionary movement.” —Naomi Thurston, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter

“This book offers us a critical narrative of Robert Morrison’s work in China and presents us with a different perspective on what Robert Morrison and William Milne did there.” —Martha Stockment in Christianity in China

“This book is one which would be enjoyable to the general reader of missions and religious history, and Chinese history, but also is an important study for mission scholarship, not only about Morrison and Milne, but as a missiological pattern that continued to be used in part or wholly for many years to come, and has not yet disappeared.” —J. Barton Starr, The China Quarterly