Confucius is mostly an invention of early 1600s Jesuit missionaries to China

If you haven’t heard of this historical theory before, google it.

When Jesuit missionaries arrived in China in the early 1600s they took the old tradition of “Kong Fu” (who, like Sun Tzu, was probably, even to begin with, merely a pen name used by generations of Chinese wisdom writers) and transformed this figure into a Christ-like individual. They invented the modern representation of the physical image of Confucius that can still be found on paintings and statues all over China to this day, and they both encouraged others to invent new quotes and sayings and philosophies and falsely attribute them to “Kong Fu” and also themselves did such false inventing/attributions.

Why did they do this? a) To turn Kong Fu into a Christ-like figure in order to make it easier to then convert the pagan and traditionalist Chinese into Christians, and b) to help give the Chinese a new philosophy around which to rally and thus help separate these Chinese from those Chinese who continued to worship pagan deities, spirits, and nature beings and who continued to follow old cultural and family traditions that go against Christianity and Modern European Ideologies.

Let me know what your take on all this is.

What is your source of information?
By “Kong Fu” do you mean “Kong Fu-Zi”?

Here’s one source.

Yeah, I meant Kong Fu-Zi.

Can you summarize the main evidence for this theory?

The only thing I’ll say upfront is that the proposed reasoning why this was done doesn’t make sense (or at least makes the missionaries sound like idiots).
Give people a Christ like figure to worship, and they worship him / her. Had they never tried to convert Muslims and noticed how difficult it is to just substitute one supposed perfect man for another?

My take on it is that it’s utter bullshit.

Confucianism was an established thing in China for more than a millennium before the Society of Jesus even existed.

That 孔夫子 didn’t write everything attributed to him is not the same as saying the actual man was just a pseudonym. Anyone proposing an entirely mythical 孔夫子 is decidedly not in the “probably” ballpark.

Nice trick for them to have commissioned all those portraits we find in Chinese art from the previous two millennia, then … how much do you think they slipped Wu Daozi via time portal?

Did the Jesuits have a large hand in Western perceptions of 孔夫子 ? I have no doubt they did. Would they also have had an impact on Chinese perceptions? No doubt yes. Did they “mostly invent” him? Absolutely not.

My take is that he was most likely a historical figure but that it really doesn’t matter. The writings attributed to him stand or fall on their value as literature or philosophy.
Much like Socrates. A case can be made for him being a mythical figure but I think he was a specific, distinct character in history and his writings (or those attributed to him) have worth and importance whether he was real or not.

I was underthe impression that Confucianism is more of a political and social philosophy than a religious one - Marxism, not Christianity.

Not a lot of pure philosophies with their own temples, I’m thinking…also not a lot of sacrifices being made to Kant.

Confucianism is humanistic, but is also very much cultic in trappings. Think more Pythagoras than Kierkegaard.

You’re probably not old enough to remember, but The Atlantic in 1990s had a fetish for challenging “conventional wisdom” with fringe theories. That was the same decade as their major article claiming that Shakespeare was written by Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. This is utter bullshit yet still beloved by conspiracy theorists and others who don’t understand what evidence is.

As far as I can tell, the Confucius was a Jesuit invention bullshit was a similar article based on the notions of a couple of scholars who have been ignored by the rest of the scholarly community.

The academic community is huge and has historically been tolerant of iconoclasts. Sometimes conventional wisdom is indeed overthrown: the notion that slaves were treated well was a Southern lie that lasted for a hundred years until the Revisionists challenged it after WWII. But note the plural. A whole generation of young scholars provided evidence for the contrary, not just one or two people. Today there are one or two people who profess that climate change isn’t man-made or won’t be as bad as what the rest of the experts say. They get publicity but scientific bullshit is still bullshit.

If you’re alone in your beliefs against the opinions of all the experts in the world, the odds are overwhelming that you are wrong, even if you have a Ph.D. after your name. If you have no expertise at all and still are alone in your beliefs then the odds are overwhelming that you are a, well, fill in the blank as you see fit.

Maybe he means the Shaolin Path.

Who came up with this? Even before seeing the replies, I could only wonder why anyone would think that a figure that features prominently in Chinese literature and culture for two millennia was invented by some visiting Jesuits. And Confucius as Christ is a huge stretch, to put it mildly. he never claimed to be a godlike figure, nor was he ever regarded as such.

Next point:

“to help give the Chinese a new philosophy around which to rally and thus help separate these Chinese from those Chinese who continued to worship pagan deities, spirits, and nature beings and who continued to follow old cultural and family traditions that go against Christianity and Modern European Ideologies.”

Pagan? China was Buddhist, and that does not count as pagan, or at least, not in my book. The rest of the description applies to japan as well, which I know better, and I can say with absolute certainty that the missionaries there never attempted to hijack some existing cultural or religious figure and use them as a way to transition to Christianity. It was all straight up straight to Christianity conversion.

The Internet makes more information available, but also disinformation, misinformation and conspiracy theories. The latter appear to have prolfilerated in recent years, often under the guise of “new revelations” or “new findings.”

I assume that this theory was put about by some Westerners and not by Chinese researchers.

Generally speaking, Catholic syncretism was more in the vein of identifying local deities or whatever and then associating aspects of their worship - images or forms of worship as local Catholic practices, in the hope that it sort of greases the skids into full-on Catholicism down the line.

They don’t fabricate the local deities though, from what I understand.