Joseph Henri Marie de Prémare
Joseph Henri Marie de Prémare, missionary and sinologist, born at Cherbourg, 17 July, 1666; died at Macao, 17 Sept., 1736; entered the Society of Jesus 17 Sept., 1683, and departed for China in 1698. He laboured as missionary chiefly in the province Kwang-si. When the Christian faith was proscribed by Emperor Yong-tching, in January, 1724, Prémare was confined with his colleagues in Canton. A still more rigorous edict banished him to Macao. In his retirement he studied profoundly the language and literature of China, and in the opinion of sinologists he, of all the older missionaries, best succeeded in grasping their peculiarities and beauties. His principal work is entitled: "Notitia linguæ sinicæ"; in simple form it explains the rules and usage of the vulgar Chinese language ( siao shue ), and the style of the written, literary language ( wen tchang ). The famous English sinologist, James Legge, calls it "an invaluable work, of which it could hardly be possible to speak in too high terms". Father de Prémare is one of the missionaries who furnished Father Jean-Baptiste du Halde with the material for his "Description de la Chine" (Paris, 1735). We owe him, in particular, the translation of the maxims taken from the Shu-King (Du Halde, II, 298); of eight odes of the Shi-King (II, 308); of the "Orphan of the House of Tchao", a Chinese tragedy (III, 341); the notes on the course of study, literary degrees and examinations of the Chinese (II, 251); etc. In "Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses" we find many letters from Father Prémare. A much greater number of his writings are unedited, preserved, chiefly, at the National Library (Paris). Many undertake the defence of figurism, the name of a singular system of interpreting ancient Chinese books, the inventor of which was Father Joachim Bouvet. Following Bouvet, Prémare thought he discovered in the Chinese King (see CHINA) suggestions of Christian doctrines and allusions to the mysteries of Christianity. The written Chinese words and characters are to him but symbols that hide profound senses. The three or four missionaries who adopted these ideas of Bouvet were never authorized to publish them in book form. The most important work which Father de Prémare wrote in their defence has only recently appeared, translated from the Latin by M. Bonnetty , director of the "Annales de philosophie chrétienne", aided by Abbé Perny, formerly missionary to China. It is entitled: "Vestiges choisis des principaux dogmes de la religion chrétienne, extraits des anciens livres chinois" (Paris, 1878).
More Catholic Encyclopedia
Browse Encyclopedia by Alphabet
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Browse the Catholic Encyclopedia by Topic
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online