Asian Languages and Cultures professor writes book on life of Vietnamese priest

Published: January 10, 2017


(Download book as a free PDF here)

In a new book, George Dutton, a professor of Asian languages and culture and director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, explores the life of Vietnamese Catholic priest Philiphê Binh.

“A Vietnamese Moses” is the story of Philiphê Binh, a Vietnamese Catholic priest who in 1796 traveled from Tonkin to the Portuguese court in Lisbon to persuade its ruler to appoint a bishop for his community of ex-Jesuits.

Based on Binh’s surviving writings from his 37-year exile in Portugal, the book examines how the intersections of global and local Roman Catholic geographies shaped the lives of Vietnamese Christians in the early modern era. The book also argues that Binh’s mission to Portugal and his intense lobbying on behalf of his community reflected the agency of Vietnamese Catholics, who vigorously engaged with church politics in defense of their distinctive Portuguese-Catholic heritage.

Dutton demonstrates the ways in which Catholic beliefs, histories and genealogies transformed how Vietnamese thought about themselves and their place in the world. This sophisticated exploration of Vietnamese engagement with both the Catholic Church and Napoleonic Europe provides a unique perspective on the complex history of early Vietnamese Christianity.

See University of California Press listing.