Revisiting James Legge’s Christian Interpretation of Confucian Filial Piety

A Comparative Approach


  • Bai Limin


This paper focuses on James Legge’s Christian hermeneutical approach to Confucian filial piety. It firstly investigates various interpretations of Confucian filial piety, and then discusses the manner by which Legge combined the concept of a Christian God
with the Confucian doctrine of filial piety through his translation of Confucian classics. This resulted in the alteration of the immediate father figure in Confucian filial piety to the Father in Heaven. A further study of the indigenous concept of tian 天 as the divine power and the concept of the Christian Heavenly Father then ensues, leading to a comparison of the moral authorities in Chinese and Western cultures. It argues that Legge’s Christian hermeneutic interpretation of filial piety highlights the true value of humanity and humaneness in Confucian moral philosophy.