1576  — 1630

Johann Terrenz

Johann Schreck

First Jesuit missionary to help the Ming court revise the Chinese calendar.

A German, Terrenz was a learned Jesuit scholar who reached China in the late Ming period. He was already highly regarded for his scientific knowledge in 1611. When he heard that Nicolas Trigault’s purpose in returning to Europe was to take expert mathematicians to help China, he immediately volunteered and did much preparatory work for revising the Chinese calendar. He left for China with Trigault in 1618, arrived in Macau in 1620, and moved inland one year later. He first studied Chinese in Jiading, proceeding later to Hangzhou, where he stayed at Li Zhizao’s home and completed the Chinese translation of the two-volume Introduction to the Human Body.

While in Beijing, he translated into Chinese (dictating while Wang Zheng took notes) the three-volume Graphic Illustration of Wonderful Implements. After the enthronement of Emperor Chongzheng, he employed Jesuit almanac specialists to correct the errors in the Ming calendar. In 1629 Terrenz, recommended by Xu Guangqi, was engaged by the emperor to revise the calendar. He died of illness shortly after this appointment.


This article is reproduced, with permission, from A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, copyright 2001 by Scott W. Sunquist, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.


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