John Abercrombie

Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Fall 5-9-2012

Major Department or Program



Daniel Kent


The Quanzhen School of Taoism was founded by Wang Chongyang in 1170. It was a school that incorporated a wide range and practices and doctrines, but the doctrine most focused upon by scholars of the 20th century was the “unity of the Three Teachings,” which referred to the traditional division within China’s religious world of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. By using this doctrine, the school has been labeled “a syncretism,” and this syncretic identity has been called the essence or core of Quanzhen. However, this use of the category “syncretism” as a simple label for Quanzhen does not adequately address the ways in which Quanzhen thinkers used discourses on the Three Teachings to establish their school. Instead of viewing syncretism as a core or essence, this thesis attempts to examine the ways in which syncretic discourses functioned to legitimize and authorize Quanzhen within the multi-religious environment of 12th and 13th century China.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Identification (Religion) - Religious Identity, Taoism -- Quanzhen, Buddhism -- China, Confucianism -- China, Changchun Qui (1148-1227) -- Qiu Chuji, Tradition (Taoism), Religions -- Chinese religion -- Three teachings, Chinese Philosophy -- 12th century, Chinese Philosophy -- 13th century, Wang Chongyang (1112-1170) -- Chongyang lijiao shiwu lun -- Chongyang’s Fifteen Articles on Establishing the Teaching, Yelü Chucai (1190-1244), Taoism -- movements, Syncretism (Religion) -- China, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2012 -- Religion Department

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