A Chinese Protestant Female Model in Southeast Asia: The “Confucianizing” of Leona Wu Jingling in 1970s Singapore

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Abstract

This study draws on recent scholarship about Chinese Christian textual traditions to analyze the posthumous biographies of Leona Jingling Wu (1897–1974), the prominent leader of John Sung’s evangelistic bands in Singapore and founder of the island’s first Chinese Protestant higher education institute, Chin Lien Bible Seminary. The essay argues that these biographies “Confucianized” Wu by re-casting her as a Chinese-Christian female spiritual model. First, a survey of literary productions from the pre-1970s demonstrates that Wu was initially portrayed as an evangelical rather than a female Confucian model. Second, the process of “Confucianizing” Wu only becomes apparent in her biographies written in the 1970s. Three strategies were employed to highlight Wu’s Confucian attributes—the re-telling of her Chinese-Christian genealogy, an emphasis on her filial piety before she moved to Singapore, and the re-imagination of her as a spiritual mother. In all, her biographers re-casted her as a Chinese and Christian who successfully melded the key values of both traditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-122
Number of pages22
JournalChing Feng: A Journal on Christianity and Chinese Religion and Culture
Volume18
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chinese Christianity
  • Leona Wu
  • John Sung
  • Singapore Christianity
  • Chinese biographies

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