Reading Christian Scriptures in China 9780567638465, 0567638464

This volume sets out to examine how Christian scriptures have been read within a Chinese reading tradition, and to asses

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Reading Christian Scriptures in China

Reading Christian Scriptures in China edited by Chloe Starr

t&t dark

Published by T&T Clark

A Continuum imprint The Tower Building, 11 York Road, London SE1 7NX 80 Maiden Lane, Suite 704, New York, NY 10038 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Copyright © Chloe Starr and contributors, 2008 British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Typeset by Data Standards Ltd, Frome, Somerset

EISBN 9780567032928



viii X 1














A SURVEY, 1976-2006








vi 9













Acknowledgements We would like to acknowledge with gratitude the generous grants towards the conference Reading Christian Scripture in China (7-10 January 2007, Oxford) at which many of the essays in this volume were initially presented as papers: from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, the Universities7 China Committee of London, the Sub-Faculty of East Asian Studies at the University of Oxford and the Centre for the Study of Christianity in China, Oxford. At the conference we benefited greatly from the expertise of two discussants, Professor Sun Yi from Renmin University, Beijing, and Canon Dr Ben Quash of Peterhouse, Cambridge. I would like to thank them for giving their time, and for their scholarly wisdom and good humour. Two presenters, Dr Lars Laamann and Dr Zhou Pingping, whose work is published elsewhere, gave valued papers and participation. Rana Mitter read carefully and provided useful comment on the introduction to this volume. I would also like to thank my colleagues at the Institute for Chinese Studies, Oxford, for support, logistical help and for ever-open doors when querying a Chinese phrase or expression - particularly Fang Jing, Shio-yun Kan, Song Yang and Tineke D'Haeseleer - and to students and colleagues who endured seminar sessions wresting the meaning from classical Chinese prefaces. Please note that Chinese names are given in Chinese format (i.e. surname first) throughout this volume. Exceptions include scholars who live in the west or who have adopted Western format names for themselves, e.g. Sze-kar Wan, K.H. Ting. Chloe Starr St Anne's College, Oxford, July 2007

List of Contributors Chen Jian-ming is Professor and Director of the Christianity Research Centre of Sichuan University, Chengdu. Current research interests include Christianity and the development of Chinese society, Christian literature in modern China, and Christian roles in Sino-West cultural interaction. Recent works include Activizing Literature to Spread the Gospels: The Literary Work of Modern Christianity in China? (Taibei,

Christian Cosmic Light, 2006) and a translation of Herbert Hoi-lap Ho's Protestant Missionary Publications in Modern China 1912-1949

(Chengdu: Sichuan University Press, 2004). Fredrik Fallman is a researcher at The Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, in the Chinese Department, Stockholm University. Recent publications include China's Development and Global Role

(Stockholm: Nordic Confucius Institute, 2006 with Torbjorn Loden) and

Salvation and Modernity: Intellectuals and Faith in Contemporary China

(Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2004). Mark Fang SJ is Professor Emeritus at Fujen Catholic University, Taipei, Taiwan. He earned his SSD at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, in 1963. Recent publications include Studies on Genesis (Taipei: Kuangchi,

2005; 5th edn); The Three-letter Classic and Holy Scripture (Taipei: Voice of

the Catholic Church, 2006). Lloyd Haft was educated at Harvard and Leiden, and for many years has taught Chinese poetry at Leiden University. His special interests are poetic form as a parameter of expression, and the interfaces of Western and Chinese poetry. Publications include Zhou Mengdie's Poetry of Consciousness (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2006); The Chinese Sonnet: Meanings of a Form (Leiden: CNWS, 2000); and, with Wilt Idema, A Guide to Chinese Literature (Ann Arbor, MI: Centre for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1997). Professor Haft has also published ten volumes of original poetry including a Dutch free-verse adaptation of the Book of Psalms. Grace Hui Liang is departmental lecturer in Chinese language and literature at Zhejiang University. Recent publications include Hokmah:

The Biblical Passage to the Good Life - Research on the Wisdom Literature of the Hebrew Bible (Hong Kong: Wen Wei, 2006); How Do Modern Chinese Christian Intellectuals Read the Bible? - A Study of Wu Lei-chuan's Interpretation of the New Testament (Hong Kong: The Chinese University

Press, 2007).

List of Contributors


Chloe Starr is departmental lecturer in classical Chinese at Oxford University. Recent publications include Red-light Novels of the late Qing (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2007) and a co-edited volume, China and the Quest for Gentility (London: Routledge, 2007). Current research interests include Qing dynasty Christian and liturgical texts. Thor Strandenaes is associate professor at the Missiology School of Mission and Theology, Stavanger, Norway. He is the author of The Principles of Chinese Bible Translation (Stockholm Almqvist & Wiksell,

1987) and numerous articles on theology, theological education and Chinese church liturgy and hymnody. Tian Haihua is an associate professor at the Christianity Research Centre of Sichuan University. She completed her doctorate in biblical studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2005, and has published numerous articles on Old Testament and gender studies. She is co-author of two books, Holy Mission: Rereading Maritain (Sichuan: Sichuan Renmin, 1997) and Major Religions of the World (Taipei, 1997)

Sze-kar Wan was from 1990-2007 John Norris Professor of New Testament interpretation at Andover Newton Theological School and is now Professor of New Testament at Southern Methodist University, Texas. Research interests include Second Temple Judaism, Pauline studies and Chinese Protestant hermeneutics. He is the author of Power

in Weakness: Conflict and Rhetoric in Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians

(London: Continuum, 2000); editor of a Chinese translation of Philo's De

opificio tnundi and Legum allegoriae and co-editor of The Bible in Modern China: The Literary and Intellectual Impact (Sankt Augustin: Institut

Monumenta Serica, 1999). John Y.H. Yieh is associate professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. His academic interest includes gospel studies, history of interpretation, and Chinese biblical

hermeneutics. He is the author of A Concise Greek-Chinese Dictionary of the New Testament (Hong Kong: UBS, 1989), One Teacher: Jesus as Teacher in

Matthew's Gospel Report (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2004) and Making Sense of the Sermon on the Mount (Cambridge: Grove, 2007).

Zha Changping is associate professor at the Christianity Research Centre of Sichuan University, Institute of Daoism and Religion Studies. Recent publications include a translation of The Imperial System and Christianity in the Transformation of Modern Japanese Society (Beijing: Huaxia, 2007) and

numerous articles on Pauline theology. Zha Changping is the chief editor of the Guiyang Journal for Humanities and Art, and, since 2006, chief editor of the Classical Translation Library of Christian Culture, Shanghai. Richard X.Y. Zhang is director of the Centre for Christian Studies at the Institute of Comparative Religion, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangdong. Professor Zhang studied at Chicago and the University of Basel and worked as a lecturer in theology in Nanjing Union Theological Seminary. His publications include works on Culture Christians and Chinese Christian philosophy.

List of Abbreviations BCP

Book of Common Prayer


China Christian Council


China Ministries International


Chinese Union Version (1919)




Kuomintang (Guomindang)


People's Republic of China


Republic of China


Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Sinense


Today's Chinese Version


Three-Self F'atriotic Movement


United Bible Societies

Introduction Chloe Starr The earliest evidence for Christian Scriptures in China derives from a Nestorian stone stele erected in the seventh century in Chang'an (modern Xi'an). Although successive groups of Catholic orders and missionaries lived in China from the fifteenth century onwards and built up a flourishing church in many provinces, it was not until the early 1820s that a full translation of the Bible came to be printed in Chinese. With a wave of Protestant revival throughout Europe and the USA, and with the stimulus of numerous newly created societies dedicated to fundraising for translation projects, the sending of missionaries to China specifically to engage in translating Scripture was a mark of the era. Early Protestant translators made much use of the publications and treatises of their Roman Catholic missionary predecessors, and initial editions of the Bible were in a literary form of Chinese with terminology closely following the choices of the Jesuits and others. Traces of denominational influence remain in Chinese scriptures: to this day, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox editions of the Bible in Chinese use different transliterations and abbreviations for the names of certain books of the Bible. There have been several excellent volumes in English on translations and editions of Chinese bibles, and this study does not seek to reproduce their findings.1 What this volume presents is an exploration of the parameters of the question of how Scripture has been read in China.2 Part 1 looks at the history of readings through to the present and of the contextual settings of the Bible in China, while Part 2 focuses on hermeneutics, presenting case-studies of individual Chinese biblical exegetes and their approaches to reading. The volume is joyfully, and necessarily, interdisciplinary: historians, theologians and sinologists combine their textual knowledge with biblical studies specialists. The volume has not imposed any particular form of discourse on contributors but gathers different approaches to provide an outline of the field. Unlike a volume on, say, Asian-American biblical interpretation, whose contextual hermeneutics are firmly grounded in the contemporary era, many of the essays in this volume concentrate on historical readings.3 Though not its primary aim, the collection gives a fascinating representation of the last century or two of Chinese history through a Christian lens. That this lens exists is still news to some: both to educated Chinese of the generations which grew up in the People's Republic and who until recently have had no access to materials documenting


Chloe Starr

Christianity in their own country, and to the many students of theology in the West who have had equally little access to works by Chinese exegetes. Extracts from essays, diaries and letters by Christian intellectuals, educators and statesmen give insights into modern history not found in standard textbooks. The tangential representation of cultural change and historic events from a Christian viewpoint reminds us again how official histories suppress threads of individual experience. The presuppositions, and problems, that exegetes encounter show as much about China as the Bible. Given the relative paucity of knowledge on Chinese biblical studies, an introductory volume with a wide purview still seems acceptable, a necessary stage before the many themes explored here are themselves the subjects of fuller studies. A dearth of knowledge on Chinese theologians and biblical exegetes is to the detriment of all: it hampers China from paying a full part in global theology, and it depletes the West. If China is soon to be the nation with the greatest number of Christians on earth, this alone might render its Christian heritage and beliefs of some import to smaller neighbours in the old Christian heartlands.

The Bible as text The commonly used modern term for the Bible in Chinese, shengjing (§2 M), directly translates 'Holy Scripture'. The term jing denotes Scripture, as used for Buddhist sutras and Daoist texts, but also signifies a classic, and is used primarily for the Confucian classics. One of the themes which runs throughout this volume is how Chinese Christians have responded to the Bible as text, within their own textual traditions. How to integrate biblical truths and Chinese custom is tied to the problematic of the text itself, and to the notion oijing as a central civilizing force for the empire. We cannot read pre-twentieth-century Chinese responses to Scripture without some understanding of the framework of imperial scholarship. The Confucian classics, such as the Odes, or the Book of Rites, as well as works of philosophers such as Confucius or Mencius, formed the basis of the system of Chinese education and governance. The history of textual scholarship and reception of the classics in China has formed the context for reading foreign jing. Roman Catholic scholars and priests in China had used the term jing for Scripture as early as the seventeenth century, but early Protestant missionaries were not convinced that the Bible should be so classified, and Robert Morrison, the first Protestant missionary to mainland China, used in his early translations sheng shu (Mil) 'Holy Book'. This may have differentiated the Bible from the Buddhist and Daoist scriptures, but by the 1830s and 1840s jing was standard usage as Holy Scripture, alongside separate terms for the Old and New Testaments. In using the term jing to translate Scripture, nineteenth-century Chinese Christians were appropriating millennia of textual meaning: both in terms of what the text was - its authority and canonical status and how it was to be read. The classics were learned from early



childhood, recited by heart, and were so ingrained into the educated mind that speakers could finish each others' quotations, retort with another citation, or pun at will on text and commentary. The state was institutionally involved in the setting of curricula, the examination of students and the appointment to office: excelling in office first required a thorough knowledge of the chosen texts. The classics were not just the means to individual advancement through the imperial examination system; they were also the moral and ethical base for Chinese society. Moral andritualbehaviour was so codified under the Confucian textual heritage that knowing the texts was seen as equivalent to embodying them: to be a scholar was to have internalized the precepts of the classics. Christian writings were entering a highly textualized society and one which would apply its own reading practices to them. While Western missionaries were right to understand the import of providing written materials to propagate the gospel in China, they could not expect to govern the terms of their reception. Chinese biblical readings, particularly in centuries prior to the twentieth, have inevitably been a product of interaction between Western and Chinese beliefs, and traces of contemporary debates in Europe can be seen in Chinese writings. For late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Chinese readers of the Bible, the matrix from which the text emerged was overlaid with a deep layer of nineteenth-century Western interpretation. The mission context, and the particular concerns and interests of the sending churches, pressed between Chinese readers and their interpretations. This was in part a matter of what was translated, and of what secondary and explanatory texts were printed for the Chinese market. If two cultural matrices are always involved in interpreting biblical texts in the West, for the Chinese this was three. How Chinese readings and reception of the Bible differed from their teachers' is raised in chapters such as that of Tian Haihua below, who exposes the tensions for Chinese Confucians in adopting Mosaic Law. The missionary intermediaries cannot be bracketed out of the Chinese reception since their interpretative traditions as well as the reading materials they produced were all that the great majority of Chinese Christians has access to. The situation cannot, however, be reduced to a simplistic colonialist pattern. In many aspects, as outlined in various essays below, the Bible proved a liberationary force for Chinese radicals bent on extricating their country not from Western imperialists but from their own imperialist past and the ruling Qing dynasty. To what degree have modern scriptural reading practices in China been influenced by centuries of Chinese thinking on texts and on canons - or is the modern institutional framework of New and Old Testament studies in Chinese seminaries and academy entirely derived from Western curricula and understandings? The question is, in part, about China's recent Christian heritage. Universities brought a modernizing discourse to China, promoting science, female learning and Western curricula, but most early universities themselves were Christian foundations, set up and often funded through church sources. The reading practices and theological starting-point of educated Chinese theologians


Chloe Starr

reflected contemporary Western concerns. This was, moreover, a time when western learning was widely held by influential young reformers to be the key to China's future strength. Did older textual practices have any influence on the authority with which the scriptural text was received? A recent mode of examining such questions prior to the widespread introduction of Western learning in China has been championed by Archie Lee (Li Zhichang) in Hong Kong, that of cross-textual reading strategies.4 For Lee, the fundamental problem for Chinese in the clash of texts when reading Christian scriptures was one of loyalty. Societal pressure and internal angst governed exegetical and reading patterns. Various chapters in this volume have been influenced by Lee's textual reading strategies. Essays focusing on the formative period in the first half of the twentieth century, when imperial education traditions had been cast aside, but before the PRC took over an ideological role in guiding textual interpretation, include an examination of the 'New Culture' (May Fourth) era Protestant biblical hermeneutics,, and studies of seminal figures such as Wu Leichuan or T.C. Chao (Zhao Zichen). These essays consider how scholars trained in classical text interpretation, and writing for Chinese audiences, sought to integrate their Christian identities with their cultural heritage. A further essay by John Yieh extends this pattern, seeking to identify typical Chinese hermeneutical traits in a diachronic comparison of reading of the Sermon on the Mount.

Social and personal readings Two major points of tension are highlighted throughout the volume: the first between traditional Chinese heritage and scriptural mores, and the second between personal and individual readings and institutional or academic ones. The first concentrated minds in imperial and republican China, while the second set of tensions pertain more to the PRC era, and in particular to the time following the period when the Church was effectively shut down. It is notable how many Chinese Christians came to faith through the moral force of Christianity. Chen Jianming's article cites example after example of late Qing and twentieth-century intellectuals who were drawn to faith because of the compelling moral goodness of Jesus as described in the Bible, and as compared to the exemplars of self-centred or depraved behaviour that they perceived around them. This is not surprising: the entire thrust of Confucian doctrine was aimed at becoming a sage, a morally perfected person, or, the next step down the aspirational rung, a junzi, a gentleman who embodied the highest moral values. The self was to be continually refined and fulfilled through a process of increasing self-awareness. Wu Leichuan, discussed by various scholars in this volume, presents an extreme case of this, one for whom prayer was essentially self-transformation, very much in a Confucian mode. Theologically, the rejection of the divinity of Jesus and of traditional eschatological beliefs by such as T.C. Chao can be seen



as a logical extreme to scholars grafting Christianity onto Confucian thought. For these reasons, the core of much writing by early twentiethcentury Christians, particularly those still schooled in the classical canon, was Jesus himself, the character of Jesus. Old Testament scholarship was rarely acknowledged. Jesus as sage, Jesus as revolutionary hero: these inspired the first generation of Chinese living outside imperial rule. A tension in biblical readings parallels tensions in early twentiethcentury history. The focus on Christian thinkers and writers from this period in the volume reflects the extraordinarily creative period in Chinese history as the old ways of society were decried as moribund and collective effort was focused on seeking a new national direction, identity and system of governance. Many Christian writers embodied this tension, being committed to self-cultivation or traditions of holiness alongside Confucian patterns: to daily reflection, self-examination and reflective self-improvements - and to political engagement. An emphasis on national salvation permeates late Qing and republican writings, and an awareness that the biblical message can be used to encourage citizens to further political aims. A split can be discerned between intellectuals from both May Fourth (1919-C.1925) and communist periods using the Bible as a means of inspiring citizens to revolution, to arms, to programmatic national salvation, and personal non-intellectual readings. Elite, educated readers have not slotted themselves neatly into a history of scholarly interpretation and continued the philological and philosophical debates that preoccupied their missionary forebears a generation or two earlier. The reasons for this were twofold, both because neutral scholarship is difficult in the face of national peril, the overriding concern of the late Qing and early twentieth century, and because the education system was itself under attack by those same radicals and intellectuals. Since classical learning, its syllabus and the privileges it entailed, were part of what was being overthrown in an attempt to modernize China and prevent economic collapse and Western occupation and exploitation, Bible scholarship among Chinese academics was unlikely to reprise Greek and Hebrew historical criticism. The intellectual appreciation of the Bible which emerges is evidently tied to the historic situation of China, and to an overriding concern with deliverance from national ills and humiliation. The theme of a socially useful Christianity has remained remarkably constant, reappearing under different guises as circumstances change. In part a defence against Marxist charges against religion, for Bishop Ding Guangxun and a generation of Three-Self Patriotic movement (official) church leaders from the 1950s onwards, Christianity was to be geared towards the building of a socialist society, contributing to the common good by encouraging believers to love each other, and encouraging the personal development of the 'new human' (xinreri) in China. In the late 1980s and 1990s, a number of newer scholars, often cultural Christians, or academics sympathetic to Christianity, have continued these calls for a socially useful religion. Many, from government ministers downwards, have acknowledged that Christianity can bring benefits to society in encouraging a dutiful workforce (the Protestant work ethic as a source of


Chloe Starr

economic success is often mentioned, rather wistfully) and promoting harmonious relationships and social good works; this line reappears in academic texts on Christianity. The 'spiritual vacuum' that worries commentators on contemporary China is a factor encouraging even ardent communists to consider the social gain from organized religion. Academics such as Yng Huilin at Renmin University in Beijing have recently advocated a 'non-religious' interpretation of Christianity, suitable to the Chinese cultural situation. Contemporary readings The Bible in contemporary China cannot be studied outside institutional contexts, and the institutional context of the Chinese Church has as its backdrop the political movements and campaigns which have dominated Chinese social life through the PRC era. It is well known that at the height of the communist period in the 1950s through to the 1970s (now officially in a phase of 'socialism with Chinese characteristics', which includes such aspects as a market economy), Christianity was anathema to the state, and professing Christians suffered much, in line with, and sometimes beyond, the sufferings of other 'non-Red' categories of people. Many would argue that the sufferings of the Church were the seed-bed for the remarkable growth of recent years. With disbanded churches and seminaries throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, survival was a priority for the Church, and serious theological or biblical studies an inconceivable luxury. One of the greatest needs articulated by the Chinese Church today is for well-trained leaders and a new generation of academic theologians. Tendencies to a very narrow evangelical faith, and to the appearance of heterodox sects, are two outcomes of the paucity of trained pastors and clergy. A deep fault line runs between more liberal and more literal biblical readings, which equates to a very general division between proponents of China Christian Council (CCC) and house church theologies. Academic theologians have in general more in common with official church thinking than with the experiential or pastoral concerns of much house church writing. The division between registered and unregistered churches is painful for many, predicated as it is on a sense of betrayal among those who chose not to register their churches with the government on ideological grounds in the 1950s and 1960s, and who may have served long prison sentences, suffering greatly in comparison with those who both registered and acceded to the party line on religious matters. The sense of betrayal on the part of the underground or family churches means many are deeply suspicious of sanctioned theologians. Just as in many contemporary debates in the West, the authority of scripture is at the heart of the tension. The Chinese academic scene is closer to the American divide between university and seminary than the European one, where theology is taught in universities and ordinands may take MAs with a confessional outlook within the university system. Where once the Church was



considered to be the only authority for reading the Bible and discerning its meaning, the Chinese academy has assumed this responsibility to itself, and appropriated the mantle of authority: the text is to be read as academia sees fit. Even Bishop Ding Guangxun has conceded that better theology is being done outside the Church in China than within it: academic departments in universities are better equipped, often with better educated, more intellectually gifted students, than seminaries, some of which, as Fredrik Fallman points out in his article, are in essence Bible schools, taking students who may not have completed senior high school. The 'lost generation' of those who missed out on education during the Cultural Revolution are now at the age when they would be running departments and institutions. Even after the Opening-up and Reform period (197&- ) hastened the rebuilding of universities, theology faculties were still regarded as suspect. Many of the 40 or so university MA programmes in Christian theology across Chinese universities which began in the late 1990s and early 2000s come under the rubric of philosophy departments, although some are within religious studies or sociology of religion programmes. Because of the emphasis on state needs and priorities, and in line with its atheistic determination, legitimate study of religion has concentrated on the sociology of religion, on comparative philosophies, and on safely distant church history. Biblical studies has been critically neglected. Today, university departments in Chengdu, Jilin, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangdong and elsewhere do have biblical studies specialists, but this is an area of very recent growth, and many scholars are relatively junior. Some mainland Chinese are currently studying for doctorates in New Testament or Old Testament in the West, but the number of scholars trained in biblical languages is comparatively minute. The biblical illiteracy of undergraduate students means that extant courses are also less advanced, more like overview courses in Western culture. While -isms may have dominated biblical studies elsewhere in the world, the Chinese academy has until now been too small to have the luxury of such sub-fields. Contemporary approaches do encompass the whole range, from literary to contextual, liberation to feminist, but scholars often work in isolation. For these institutional reasons, when we discuss reading Christian scripture in China, we are talking less about exegetical scholarship and more about a range of readings, from commentary tomes through to sermons and diary jottings. The Chinese Church throughout the course of the twentieth century has only briefly had access to scholars trained in biblical languages, and research tools and facilities to engage in hermeneutical, or particularly, historical-critical scholarship. Application of the Bible has been of much greater concern, among both elite and provincial Christians. There have been few academic theologians among exegetes (though they have inevitably had a disproportionate influence in written texts), and the majority of Chinese biblical study has been confessional, by the Church for the Church, in sermons, tracts and (rarely) in monograph form. The emergence of Sino-Christian studies as a research field on the mainland and in Hong Kong has recast some of the questions of


Chloe Starr

scriptural hermeneutics in the past decade. The strong presence of nonconfessional biblical readings in mainland academia has led to the dominance of a certain strand of intellectual enquiry. As recent scholars have noted, the institution of Sino-Christian studies as a discipline has aimed to construct a branch of Chinese theology that emphasizes the humanistic and academic character of the subject. The restriction of 'Chinese language theology' (Hanyu shenxue i £ i § # # ) to a paradigm of 'humanitarian studies' (renwenxueK^C^) has led to a situation where theology may be entirely divorced from a church setting. Sino-Christian theology does not insist on the precondition of belief and does not proselytize, but aims to bring Christian theology into mainstream Chinese culture and enrich wider scholarship.5 Adherents of SinoChristian theology distinguish between theology in the West as being of the church and for the church, and in China as being from Chinese academia for Chinese academia. Sino-Christian theology wants to contemplate the Christ-event directly, not through the intermediary of Western thought or Western-language theology. As a field of study, it captures the Zeitgeist of the era: the upsurge of interest in religion, and the adamantly Chinese nature of the scholarship - on Chinese terms, not following Western leads or interests. Scriptural reading practices in Taiwan and in diasporic Chinese communities offer a counterbalance to mainland trajectories, and open up avenues for comparative research. Part I of the book presents a series of studies which explore the setting in which Chinese bibles were printed and received. Chen Jian-ming's chapter considers several angles on the reception of the Bible: as a source for moral living, a heterodox document, a revolutionary guide and a literary text. Chloe Starr looks at the texts by which nineteenth-century missionaries were interpreting the Bible to their readership, noting that most Chinese were introduced to 'the Bible' in the form of Bible stories, primers or catechetical texts. Fredrik Fallman and Thor Strandenaes continue the theme of biblical literature, but for the contemporary era. Fallman looks at bible printing in modern China, and surveys biblical stories and texts available in public bookshops, whereas Strandenaes looks at literature produced by and for the Church, including hymnals, to assess contemporary views on the Bible. Zha Changping's article introduces readers to the current academic scene in China, giving an overview of New Testament studies and scholarship on the mainland. Part 2 begins in the early twentieth century, with four chapters that consider scholarly exegesis in that formative period of Chinese church history beyond the missions era. Sze-kar Wan looks at five prominent Protestant exegetes find outlines theological differences between them and affiliations among them. Grace Hui Liang and Richard X.Y. Zhang take two of these individuals, Wu Leichuan and T.C. Chao respectively, and assess in more detail their contributions to the readings of scripture. John Y.H. Yieh focuses on the Sermon on the Mount and examines three very different Chinese Protestant responses to this text across the twentieth century. The final three chapters return to Roman Catholic readings of scripture. Tian Haihua's essay complements John Yieh's in its



examination of Ming dynasty Confucian responses to the Decalogue. Mark Fang looks at translations of the Psalms and their liturgical use in the twentieth-century Catholic Church, while Lloyd Haft presents one edition of the Bible, an edition in literary Chinese by Wu Jingxiong from the 1940s, and examines the translations and theology of key verses in John's Gospel. The Bible, as shown in the essays gathered here, has influenced the language of modern China, provoked moral outrage, inspired revolutionary leaders, motivated writers, elicited sacrificial responses and been a daily devotional guide for countless readers. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first Protestant missionary in China, whose goal was to render the scriptures into Chinese: it is an opportune moment to reflect on Chinese responses to the text and its meaning.

Notes 1. See, for example, Jost Oliver Zetzsche, The Bible in China. The History of the Union Version or The Culmination of Protestant Missionary Bible Translation in China (Nettetal: Sankt Augustin, 1999); or Irene Eber, Sze-kar Wan, Knut Waif, Roman Malek (eds), Bible in Modern China. The Literary and Intellectual Impact (Nettetal: Sankt Augustin, 1999). 2. Although the volume focuses on the People's Republic and Taiwan, 'China' is taken to refer both to the territorial integrity of the Chinese state(s), and to Chinese-speaking and diasporic areas. 3. Cf. the excellent volume edited by Mary F. Foskett and Jeffrey Kah-Jin Kuan, Ways of Being, Ways of Reading: Asian American Biblical Interpretation (St Louis, MO: Chalice, 2006). 4. Echoes can be heard of R.S. Sugirtharajah's postcolonial reading strategies for Indian tests, illuminating the Christian texts via local religious works - see, e.g., Asian Biblical Hermeneutics and Postcolonialism. Contesting the Interpretation (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999; 2nd edn), Ch. 4. While Sugirtharajah co-opts the term 'Asia' in a way which may not fit the East Asian situation, many of his insights prove thoughtprovoking for China. 5. See Yang Huilin 'Inculturalation or Contextualisation: Interpretation of Christianity in the Context of Chinese Culture', Contemporary Chinese Thought (M. E. Sharp) Vol. 36, no. 1, Fall 2004, pp. 7-32. 6. See Li Qiuling, 'Historical Reflections on "Sino-Christian Theology"', China Study Journal (Spring/Summer 2007), pp. 54-67,56. The Beijing academic He Guanghu had advocated in contrast a 'mother-tongue' theology to draw on the richness of Chinese culture as expressed through the language.

Parti The Bible in China

1 Modern Chinese Attitudes Towards the Bible Chen Jianming During the years 1814-1949, the British, American and Scottish Bible Societies, together with the Chinese Bible Society, sold around 300 million scriptures in China, the great majority of them part-Bibles. There has been very little research so far on the question of how Chinese from different social backgrounds and from different faith backgrounds have understood the Bible. This essay divides Chinese understandings of the Bible into four categories for analysis, on the basis of how the Bible has historically been regarded: as heretical, or unorthodox; as a code, or norm for faith; as a guide for revolution in its teachings; as a model for enriching Chinese language and literature and a well-spring from which to draw a humanitarian ethic. The publication of Chinese-language biblesflourishedfrom the late Qing until around 1949. The Protestant Bible was translated in five main language modes: 'high classical' language, 'easy classical', Mandarin, dialects and minority languages. Up to a thousand different editions circulated: single books of the Bible, New Testaments, the New Testament with Psalms, complete bibles, Chinese-English parallel text versions, Braille editions. According to Tang Yin's statistics, from 1814 to 1952, sales from the combined Bible societies amounted to 280 million volumes.1 Of these, in the years 1814-1940, just over two million were complete bibles, and six and a half million were New Testaments. Of the 300 million total, the great majority were therefore portions of Scripture, with full bibles accounting for only a very small proportion. The French Jesuit Ludovicus de Poirot, who arrived in China in 1770, noted, in a rather sweeping statement, that there were two types of reader of Scripture: those who sought moral instruction, and who did not care whether the translation was elegant or coarse, involved or abstruse, but who would still read diligently; and those who read to ease boredom, or who read for the novelty value, or to appreciate the literary quality of the writing.2 The question arises in the nineteenth century of what effect the huge numbers of scriptures produced had on Chinese society. How many Chinese read the Bible thoroughly? There are no detailed statistics to give us the answer to these questions, but by looking at individual examples we can gain a general sense of the attitudes and understanding of the Chinese towards the Bible in the modern era. 13


Chen Jianming

1. The Bible as a heterodox text When Protestant Christianity came to China in the early nineteenth century, the dominant ideology in society was still Confucian (Ruist) thought, which scholars and officials promoted as orthodoxy. The content of the Bible was diametrically opposed in certain aspects to traditional Chinese culture and customs, and so encountered the resistance and censure of these scholars and officials. This had been the situation in the Ming dynasty, and continued so into the late Qing, becoming, if anything, even more virulent. Four areas of critical reaction can be seen among scholars: a. Doubts as to Jesus' origins and divine nature. Yang Xiangji (1825-78), a Qing dynasty literatus who enjoyed debating the arts of governance, expressed a common feeling of doubt on Jesus' origins: In discussing Jesus, we need first to discuss where Jesus came from. His book says that he took flesh from a virgin named Maria. Now a virgin becoming pregnant would be the greatest oddity in history, and since Jesus had a mother and no father, and his physical origins are shrouded in ambiguity, then how can we be sure of the rest!3 The author of a piece in the miscellaneous section of the True Record of Warding off Heresies, which appeared during the anti-foreign religion disturbances, expressed disbelief regarding teachings on Jesus' birth and his atonement for humanity. 'If he was the son of God, why would he be born as a human? And if humans commit sins, how could he atone on their behalf?'4 'A Public Proclamation from Hunan Province' from the early 1860s expressed similar doubts on Jesus' divinity: 'The one born of Heaven, Heaven will protect. Now Jesus had only lived for 30 years when he was put to death by the ruler of Judaea state, his body was not even protected - and as for saying that his spirit can bless people, it doesn't take an intellectual to know whether this can be so!'5 b. Denial of Jesus' miracles, or ascription to heresy. A 'Public Proclamation from Hunan Province' claims that holding Jesus to be a sage on the basis of the evidence of his actions in healing the sick and saving people is untenable, since these sorts of miraculous events are seen in Chinese history too. If we look at his arts, all he could do was heal. If healing made you a saint, then Bian Que, Hua Tuo [famous surgeons from the Warring States and the Han dynasty respectively] and all those who could save from death and return to life would be called saints! Moreover, the earth is so vast - how many people could one man save? Lin Changyi (1803- ?), a jinshi degree scholar, compared Jesus' actions to the magical arts of Chinese Daoists,

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If we look at his whole life, then the most remarkable things were his healings. Now harming the flesh is sorcery. He once broke seven loaves to feed three thousand disciples, which is no more than the transporting arts of the Daoists. He had no other acts of merit, and he dares to call himself the Lord who created heaven and earth, and falsely claim that heaven, earth, people and all sentient beings were made by him!6 c. Criticisms of the concepts of heaven and hell. 'A Public Proclamation from Hunan Province' notes that The Christian religion says that all have sinned, and only the Lord of heaven can forgive sins, and that all those who enter this religion will ascend to heaven. Leaving aside its deep blue appearance, who has ever seen heaven? Even if it existed, then not asking who was good and who bad, but elevating all - wouldn't this be an extreme case of God 'aiming for preferential treatment and encountering humility?'7 Wang Bingxue, a jinshi scholar from the end of the nineteenth century who had held the post of district magistrate, was similarly affronted: The concepts of heaven and hell originated in Buddhist texts. Whether there is such a thing or not, has never been proven. If there were such a thing, then it would certainly be loyal subjects, filial sons, righteous husbands and chaste wives, those who were orthodox and upright in all they did and who were without evil, who would ascend to heaven. Those who cared nothing about either father or ruler, who were disloyal and unfilial, who were lewd or evil, malicious or thieving: such people would certainly go to hell. If we think rationally about it, it must be so. The current teaching of the Lord of heaven stealthily takes concepts from the Buddhist texts and deludes people, saying 'those who accept this teaching will go to heaven when they die, those who do not accept this teaching, will all go to hell' ... it is Buddhism which teaches of heaven and hell, with the intention of exhorting to good and warning against evil. Christianity is borrowing its concepts to trick people into entering its religion.8 d. Denying the possibility of judgement on the final day. In his 'On the Difficulties for Christianity in China', Liang Tingnan (1796-1861) presents an introduction to the Bible, and to the creed, canons and history of Christianity. Liang, who served as private secretary to a state official, expresses his doubts on the judgement of the last day, as recorded in the Bible, on the grounds that the limited space on earth lacks the capacity to contain all of the spirits awaiting judgement. If there really were a final judgement, why is it delayed, with no clear appointed time for proceeding? If Heaven really were to have a day of collective judgement, this would be the end of corporeal humanity, and the beginning of a


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spiritual body. Never mind that we do not know how long in the future it will be before judgement takes place, it has already been over a thousand years from the time of Jesus to now - why would judgement take place all at once?9 Apart from such sentiments expressing an inability to believe in the content of the Bible, a few scholars also refused to take part in the work of aiding missionaries in translating the scriptures. Guan Sifu (d. I860), a renowned scholar from Shanghai, had dealings with the missionaries and had once translated three Western medical texts with the doctor Benjamin Hobson, but in 1859, when the American Elijah Bridgman asked him to translate the Old Testament, he refused on the grounds that various Christian books were 'very much opposed to Confucianism'. Guan castigated Wang Tao, a famous literati translator of the Bible, We enter through the gate of Confucius; so we may not emulate their sages and holy people; we are created through the highest and most learned texts, and if we cannot reject their heterodox teachings, we should at least give assistance to our own great teachings. How could you yourself hold the brush and ink, and write such rootless discussions? If you follow the current of books which are opposed to reason, you are swelling their waves.10 Although Guan Sifu had come into contact with Western learning, he maintained a clear Confucian standpoint on the question of Bible translation activities. The above examples give some idea of the negative attitudes that certain Qing scholars and officials held towards the Bible. By the late Qing and beginning of the Republic of China (1911), although there was no lack of Christians in China in the years after Sun Yat-sen's revolution, there were also those virulently opposed to Christianity, of whom Zhu Zhixin (1885-1920) was a representative example. In 1919 Zhu published an article entitled 'What sort of a thing is Jesus?' in the Shanghai Republican Daily, which analysed and criticized Jesus, and offered an evaluation of the Bible. 'The so-called most reliable books of the Christian New Testament are commonly seen as the three gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke', he wrote. But the gospels as transmitted from ancient times to the present have undergone much change, since 'these were only handcopied manuscripts of the ancient gospels, which were incomplete. Whichever group of monks took control of the church could add volumes of scriptures at will.' Since each sect did this, and they did not mutually recognize each other, 'it was only when an enthusiastic emperor couldn't bear any more, and summoned monks from each sect and convened a summit, that they came to decide, section by section, verse by verse, whether each was true or false, by majority decision a totally ridiculous situation'. Zhu compared this mode of canonformation with the false creation of divination and mystical Confucian texts from the Han dynasty, and noted: 'anyone who understands that these divination records are completely untrustworthy will understand the value of these gospels'. While he held that 'various aspects of

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morality and outlook on life in the Bible are truly excellent', his conclusion on Jesus' character as narrated in the Bible was quite extreme: 'Jesus was an image of one who said yes and meant no, who was narrowminded, egotistical, approved of anger and loved revenge.'11 Among Chinese of this period there were some who had believed in Christianity, but came under the influence of socialism, evolutionism or atheism, and abandoned their Christian faith, denying the Bible. One such was the Communist Party member Che Yaoxian (1894-1946), who had been an officer in the Sichuan army. In 1921, while stationed in Jianyang, he became acquainted with gospel-hall pastor Nie Shengming, read the Bible and became a Christian. In 1927 Che went to Shanghai as a representative of the Christian Church in Sichuan to take part in the East Asian Christian Association conference, but after being discriminated against by white delegates, returned home in anger. Following this episode, he often exposed the exploitative nature of imperialist Christianity, and in October 1928 he became a member of the Chinese Communist Party.12 In a poem entitled 'Oath to Myself, Che expressed his rejection of belief in Christianity and the Bible: In my youth I trusted force, and embraced a Buddhist heart I cast aside the butcher's knife and sought the true God I read through the Bible a thousand times Religion merely deceives foolish people.13

2. The Bible as a norm for faith Following the publication of translated bibles, some Chinese did believe in Christianity, and among them were a few from the echelons of the feudal great families. The first Protestant disciple in China was Liang Fa (1789-1855), whose conversion to Christianity came about mainly through reading Scripture. Liang Fa carved and printed the bible-blocks for Morrison, and in his leisure time occasionally read the pages. He later expressed his feelings on reading as follows: When I examined the Bible, I saw that it prohibited impurity, cheating, idol worship and such sins, and I thought to myself: This is a good book which exhorts people to desist from evil. The teaching in this book 'takes the miracles of Jesus for its proof without a doubt is true scripture'. After this I took care to listen to people explaining the Bible, and on the Sabbath when the Bible was read I paid more attention, and asked the missionaries to explain its meaning to me. According to McNeur, the book which most stirred Liang Fa's conscience and prompted him to seek the truth was William Milne's Life of Jesus, with its detailed explanations and historical and geographical background.14 Baptized in Malacca in 1816, Liang wrote a volume based on his own understanding of the Bible, entitled Explanation of the Bible, of which Robert Morrison wrote: 'I believe that Liang Fa has already


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realised the power of the Holy Scriptures; this is a good example of how, in a China filled with idol worship, good use can be made of Scripture to elucidate the truth .. .'15 A tract by Liang Fa which propagated the Bible and Christianity, Good Words to Exhort the World, was published in 1832. In the trading ports, a few new-style Chinese literati were in contact with the missionaries, and various individuals came to accept Christianity. One early reformist intellectual, Wang Tao, came to Shanghai in 1849 and entered the academy run by W.H. Medhurst. Medhurst had undertaken to translate the Bible, and Wang Tao was invited to assist; publishing New and Old Testaments successively in 1852 and 1854. In August 1854 Wang Tao was baptized, and became well-known as a Christian attached to the London Missionary Society. In October of the same year he went on a regional mission tour with Medhurst and William Muirhead, distributing bibles and other mission texts.16 While some traditional literati were steadfastly denigrating Christianity, there were others who, having read the Bible, accepted Christ. One such was the Shanxi literatus Xi Shengmo (1836-96), who in 1879 took part in an essay competition organized by the English missionary David Hill of the Wesleyan Methodist Society. Having won first prize in the competition, Xi came into contact with Christianity and read a large quantity of Protestant books, writing that 'The New Testament is not just a book, but the revelation of God', revealing the things he had always yearned to know.17 Under the tutelage of Hill, and having undergone a period of his own reflection, Xi took part in a Christian group and became a Protestant believer. In the same year, 1879, one Qu Fangyi, a scholar from Shanxi, read Mark's Gospel out of curiosity, and finding the content interesting, went on to read the whole Bible. The book left a deep impression on him, and he sought out a missionary teacher. Having become a Protestant, Qu was later pressed into service as a pastor.18 Turning from the late Qing to the Republican era, the following section considers two intellectuals who came to faith through being moved by the Bible. In May 1939 the Youth Association Press published an announcement in papers in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Kunming and Chongqing soliciting articles, one of the themes of which was 'My Christian Faith'. An article submitted by Wang Jishen entitled 'How I came to Christian Faith' was one of those published. In the article Wang spoke of how he had been born into an office-holding hereditary household, but from a young age had not been able to bear stories of bullying and oppressing the poor. When he was 14 and graduating from primary school, his elder brother returned from Beiping (modern Beijing) to his hometown. One evening towards dusk, he followed his elder brother, who had already become a Christian, onto the hilltop, and facing the lingering rays of the dying sun, read aloud from the New Testament. What struck him was Mt. 18.1-5 and 19.13-15. 'At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? Then he called a child, whom he put among them, and said, truly I tell you .,.' When Wang Jishen read this, he felt 'a sort of extreme delight

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that I had never experienced before seeping into the depths of my heart'. Not long afterwards he was baptized and became a Christian. Later, he spoke of the reason for taking this step: The Bible told me that Jesus was a person of love alone ... I read the thick volume of the Bible in its entirety ... the people I met in the circumstances of daily life were selfish, cruel, indulgent, cheating, depraved and inferior, and caused much suffering and distress to my weak spirit, but in Jesus I found developed the complete opposite: he was so great, loving, ascetic, sincere, upright and noble, that only by following him and converting to him could one overcome evil and gain eternal life.19 The founder of the Three Self Patriotic Association, Wu Yaozong (18931979), became a Christian through the effect of the Sermon on the Mount. In 1947 he recounted his experience of reading the Bible: Thirty years ago, one Spring evening, I was in an American friend's house, reading for the first time the Sermon on the Mount. Like a flash of lightning, these three verses seemed to shake me out of a dream. I opened my eyes wide; I saw a strange image, I saw one of great character, dignity, kindness, depth, incisiveness - he grasped my spirit, he practically stopped my breath. Returning to my lodgings afterwards, I was happy, I called out, I was moved to tears, I said involuntarily to this image: 'Lord, you are my Saviour!'20 In 1921 the elite Christians Zhao Zizhen (1888-1979), Wu Leichuan (1870-1944) and Wu Yaozong jointly published an article entitled 'Why do I read the Bible? What methods should be used to read the Bible?' Zhao Zizhen's answer to the question 'Why should I read the Bible?' begins to give an idea of how professing Christians in China viewed the scriptures. Zhao wrote: 'The Bible is the book of life. I read the Bible in order to gain life, and from this life benefit myself and benefit others, to save the nation and help society.. / 2 1 Whether we look at Zhao Zhizhen's early theological perspective, or his life-long thought, he places comparative importance on the relationship between Christianity and the individual, emphasizing an individual's spiritual existence and religious experience. Zhao believed that the function of Christianity in society is expressed in its saving the country through morality. The first goal to aim for is spiritual renewal, that is, character renovation, and then comes societal and governmental reform.22 Wu Leichuan's response to the same question was Before I became a Christian, my faith somehow received confirmation as I read through the Christian Bible. After I became a Christian, I understood further that Christians not only have to improve their own spiritual cultivation, but also have to transmit to others what they themselves believe. Without researching the Bible, there is no base for anything. Because I want to save myself and save others, I have put continuous effort into reading the Bible over the last five years ... The doctrines of Christianity are essentially


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universal, and genuinely adaptable to the needs of the different ages ... As I read the Bible each day, it reminds me not to forget that I am a Christian. And, after studying the Bible, and reflecting a little further, sometimes I am provoked into action, so that I do not become a corrupt and useless Christian.23 Contemporary scholars such as Liang Hui have noted that the motives of both in reading the Bible were concerned with the contribution Christianity could make to China under given historical circumstances, and both Liang and Wu promoted the notion of saving the country through moral character. As for specific paths to achieve this goal, Zhao Zhizhen leaned towards individual salvation and spiritual renewal, while Wu Leichuan emphasized the implementation of the faith, and its societal function. 'The desire for life' and 'salvation for self and others' represent their respective modes of Bible study, forming differing principles in interpreting the Christian classics.24 Among the military elite, Zhang Zhijian (1882-1966) presents a notable example of committed involvement in proselytization through Bible distribution. Baptized in Hunan Province in 1918, Zhang placed great importance on reading the Bible and constantly carried a copy with him, reading it in spare moments while in transit, and setting himself the target of completing the New and Old Testaments at least once every year.25 According to his daughter's recollections, Zhang Zhijiang would divide daily Bible reading into two rounds. On the first reading he would circle important phrases with a blue pen and add dots (i.e. traditional Chinese text annotation, here adding emphasis), and on the second reading he would use red pen followed by green ink, circling, dotting and adding marginal notes.26 Zhang would record his feelings when reading on the blank pages of the Bible. The following is an example notation: I thank our father in heaven for giving me grace, and calling me to read the Bible diligently, which has given me an inner sense of eternal life, and moreover, a sense that knowing the Bible thoroughly is the only weapon by which we can triumph over sins, and that there is no other way to receive grace and be saved. And so I am determined to read the New Testament and Old Testament over and over again, highlighting with circles again and again, to increase my familiarity with it and support my spiritual growth. Father in heaven! I want to follow the ways of my Saviour, and constantly be mindful of your work; I want to follow the ways of Paul, and consider all things as refuse for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. Father, help me to reveal your power, and let me fulfil your will in my life, and may it be so in all the elect whom you have called in your grace, for ever and ever, Amen.27 Zhang Zhijiang demanded that the troops he commanded attend Bible study classes and prayer meetings, even in the midst of battle. He not only promoted Bible reading among his troops, but also in wider society. He actively supported the American Bible Society's activities in China. In

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1925, for example, he ordered from the society 2,000 copies of the Bible and 6,000 copies of the New Testament, to give to army comrades who were believers.28 The bibles he donated were quality editions, with black leather covers and gilt edging, embossed with the words 'This is the great classic [jing, scripture] under the heavens7 and below, 'A gift from Paul Zhang Zhijiang . At the front a preface by Zhang was attached: My gift to you of this Bible is not a customary social nicety, but is in line with God's will, to love you and respect you. I hope you will take this Bible and carry it with you always: study it daily without fail, and pray always without ceasing, and then you will naturally develop in wisdom and gain great strength. Not only will you be able to resist sin and evil, understand the truth and gain eternal life, but our nation, its peoples and creatures will all have the great hope of salvation through you.30 The American Bible Society later sold some of the bibles at a special price and made over 5,000 yuan. Zhang earmarked this income for the further printing of the Bible. Some were given as gifts to graduating ordinands in 1930, some to newly ordained priests and to various hospitals, and the rest sold. Zhang donated 5,000 yuan again in 1931, and printed 1,000 copies of the Bible and more than 2,500 copies of the New Testament, bringing the total number of bibles he had sponsored to 25,000.31 In terms of the military sponsoring bibles, the support, both financial and intellectual, of the nationalist Chiang Kai-shek (Zhang Jieshi) for Wu Jingxiong's translation work in the 1940s also merits note.32

3. Using the Bible as a guide to revolution There is nothing unusual in Chinese history in the use of folk religions or mystical divinations to start peasant uprisings, but the use of Western Christianity to initiate revolt began with the Taiping Rebellion. In the spring of 1836, the 22-year-old Hong Xiuquan (1814-64) travelled to Guangzhou to take the provincial examination for the xiucai degree. One day he accepted on the street a small book distributed by missionaries, entitled 'Good Words to Exhort the World'. This was a popular Chinese tract by Liang Fa, published in 1832 in Malacca. Approximately half of the short text of around 10,000 characters was copied directly from the original Chinese text of the Bible translated by Robert Morrison in 1823. The other half was religious doctrines expounded by Liang Fa in the light of China's situation, including writings on his own experiences of learning the Way. The theological content included discussions on Genesis, original sin and atonement, heaven, hell and the final judgement. The tract emphasized 'The absolute nature of God as the only truth, the only one to be respected and the only omnipotent one, and that the spirits and idols of all other religions were heretical and would be eliminated, and anyone worshipping these would be committing an offence against heaven.' The tract not only stressed the unique nature of


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God but also strenuously censured the three Chinese religions: Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism.33 In 1943, when Hong Xiuquan failed his exams once again, he became seriously ill, and in his dreams saw a strange vision. He took his strange dream as verification of 'Good Words to Exhort the World', seeing it as a 'heavenly book' given to him by 'God', 'the foundation of the true way'. If someone wished to borrow the book, he would warn them strictly not to alter or damage it, quoting Ps. 33.4 at them.34 Hong decided to follow God and baptized himself on the basis of his own understanding, to represent cleansing from sin and the abandonment of the old to start anew. He lectured to friends and relatives on 'the evil of worshipping idols and the need to worship the true God'. He also baptized Feng Yunshan (1822?-52) and Hong Ren'gan (1822-64). Hong Xiuquan was influenced in two major ways by 'Good Words to Exhort the World' in believing first that God is the one true God and ruler of all, and that all other deities, boddhisatvas and idols are all heretical and evil spirits; and secondly that all are sons and daughters of God, and are equal. The following spring Hong and Feng went to the mountainous areas of Guanxi province to 'spread the true Way'. In March 1847 Hong Xiuquan and Hong Rengan went to Guangzhou and studied the Bible at the church run by Issachar Jacob Roberts. The Bible used by Hong was the New Testament (1835) revised by W.H. Medhurst, Elijah Bridgeman, John Morrison et ah, and the Old Testament of Karl Giitzlaff (1838). In the same year, Hong Xiuquan brought the Bible to Mount Zijing in Guangxi province, probably the revised version of the Giitzlaff edition. By this time, Feng Yunshan had already established a Society of God Worshippers at Zijingshan, with more than 3,000 disciples who recognized Hong Xiuquan as their leader. Hong Xiuquan read selected texts from the New and Old Testaments he had gone to Guangzhou to obtain, and 'earnestly exhorted people to believe in the truth with a true heart'.35 The main doctrines of the Society of God Worshippers came from amended and addended doctrines of Christianity, mixed in with Chinese folk beliefs and ideas of imperial authority, as well as folk witchcraft. Hong Xiuquan revered the Bible. In 1853 when the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom established its capital in Tianjing ('Heavenly Capital'), Hong ordered a grand scale printing of the New and Old Testaments and Imperial Edicts on True Life, which gathered together his own edicts, to form the classics of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, to be issued throughout the kingdom. Hong Xiuquan even placed the Giitzlaff version of Genesis, Exodus and Matthew on the syllabus for examination candidates. According to tradition, the 'Heavenly' (Tianguo) of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom took the phrase 'the Kingdom of Heaven' from the Giitzlaff translation of Matthew. As contemporary scholars Zhang Yingming and Qu Xingming have written: Hong Xiuquan understood the translation of 'God' according to his own way of thinking and own values, and creatively moulded God as the highest deity in nature. He then turned, and in the name of

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worshipping the only true deity, attacked traditional Chinese beliefs, changing traditional culture. He understood himself to be God's second son, and at the same time conferred the title of 'Holy Spirit' on Yang Xiuqing. He limited Jesus to the position of God's eldest son, altering the Western conception of God as Holy Trinity. Hong Xiuquan attacked the doctrine of the Trinity, criticising it as a theory of 'three gods', damaging to the name of the Heavenly father and his eldest son, and one which violates Heavenly principles and the Three Cardinal Guides and the Five Constant Virtues. At the same time, he insisted on the view that there is only one God, that Jesus was only God's eldest son, and that 'if you stubbornly explain Christ as God, then you have a separate God'.36 It is clear that Hong Xiuquan was neither a real Christian nor had he completely understood the doctrines of Christianity, but he was genuinely influenced by the Bible, and by utilizing and adapting Christian doctrines he started a vast peasant revolt, attacking traditional Chinese culture and setting up the Taiping Kingdom of Heaven on earth. There are many more such examples during the later nationaldemocratic revolution of those who utilized biblical teachings to foment revolution, but, unlike Hong Xiuquan, the majority appropriated the moral example of Jesus in order to save the nation and rescue the people. Jesus became for Chinese revolutionaries the model of relentless selfsacrifice for national salvation from peril. In his youth Sun Yat-sen (Sun Zhongshan, 1866-1925) 'read the story in the Old Testament where Moses led the Jews out of Egypt to Canaan, and was in such delight at reading that he struck the table and shouted out, 'Why can't I, Sun Yixian lead our Han minority to break away from the Tartar enemies and build a new state?'37 Even in his declining years, Sun used Moses' story to encourage Christian friends. In 1924 he wrote in an article 'Encouraging the Chinese Christian Youth': The Church coming to China has opened up the atmosphere in China, and inspired people's senses, enabling us finally to free ourselves from the autocratic yoke of foreign peoples, just as Moses liberated the Israelite people from Egypt. After the Israelites had come out of Egypt, they still suffered, wandering around in the desert for 40 years, and had to wait for Joshua to lead them to Canaan. He hoped that the Christian Youth Association would 'take on the responsibilities of Joshua, to guide this 400 million people through flood and fire and onwards to the resting-place'.38 Sun saw Jesus as a great person who sacrificed his life for the benefit of the masses. When he was studying at the Hong Kong College of Medicine he often 'discussed Jesus and the ideals of revolution' with his Christian friends. They thought that 'the ideal of Jesus was to save people through self-sacrifice, and the ideal of revolution is to save the nation through self-sacrifice. The spirit of sacrificing the meagre self for the greater good of the people is identical in both.'39 In Sun's opinion, the Bible, Christianity and


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revolution were not in conflict but shared mutual ground. In the spring of 1904, Sun travelled to America to spread anti-Manchu propaganda to the overseas Chinese there and plead for sympathy from the American people. In May, in a lecture to the American public in San Francisco, he said: 'Our plan to take over Guangzhou was a failure, but we are still full of hope. Our greatest hope is that in using the Bible and Christian education as a method of transmission, we can pass on to our fellow compatriots that through having just laws there is the possibility of acquiring well-being and happiness/ 40 In August 1936 the 'Christian General' Feng Yuxiang (1882-1948) participated in the activities of the Retreat Society in Jiangxi. When explaining religious doctrine, Feng mostly took 'the responsibilities of a Christian in loving people and saving the nation' as his theme, pointing out the death of Jesus was precisely a sacrifice to save the nation. Feng took Jn 11.50 ('it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed') as proof in explaining the death of Jesus as a sacrifice for the nation. Facing the current threat to the nation, Chinese Christians must make sacrifices, without consideration to success or failure, and strive to save the nation.41 Although not inclined to accept the creation myths of Genesis on scientific grounds, when Feng read the history of the suppression of the Jewish people, he felt deep empathy, because of the similarity with the situation in China. During the Sino-Japanese War, Feng felt that the revolutionary spirit of Jesus could be an important motive force propelling the anti-invasion impetus. As a church believer, he must 'imitate the revolutionary spirit of Jesus, so great it is, a struggle against the mighty, a sacrifice for universal principles'.42 Zhang Zhijiang likewise believed in a form of Christian revolution. He wrote: 'the great prophets of the Old Testament such as Moses, Isaiah, Daniel and Ezekiel, and the ancient Chinese sages such as Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang, Wen, Wu, the Duke of Zhou, Confucius, Mencius and Zhuangzi were from the same origin and had the same objective - that is, to awaken the world and save the people'.43 He advocated the theory of Jesus 'saving the nation through moral character', and held that Christians should devote themselves to the righteous war of the revolution. In refuting the view that true Christians should not enlist in the military, he claimed: If we want to save China from its peril, then if true Christians do not join the army, there will be no strong or rapid results, and no once-and-for-all solution. Therefore I hold that in present-day China, true Christians must enlist, and only then can there be hope of truly saving our country and our people. This is because only genuine Christians can have the spirit of real revolution and great sacrifice, and will see it through, unchanging, until death. They will never start something and not finish, giving up in the middle.44 Zhang Zhijiang's theory of Christian involvement in saving the nation presents a salient viewpoint. Even Chinese communists who advocated

Modern Chinese Attitudes Towards the Bible


atheism, such as Chen Duxiu (1879-1942), Yun Daiying or Che Yaoxian, still praised Jesus' spirit of self-sacrifice in the Bible.

4. The Bible as a model for enriching Chinese literature Many of the great modern Chinese writers, whether they believed in Christianity or not, read the Bible. Lu Xun (1881-1936) bought many bibles in his lifetime and recorded this fact in his diaries; he was familiar with the text and often refers to biblical stories in his writings. Ba Jin (1904^-2005) once read many different versions of the Bible, published both in China and abroad, for his translation work, and possessed a profound knowledge of the Bible. Its influence on his techniques and thinking has been the subject of various studies.45 Guo Moruo (18921978) took to reading the Bible aloud to relieve boredom in Japan. He once said: 'I have read the whole Bible, and there was a period in my life when I like to read it very much, to the point where I almost decided to be baptized/ 46 Although Guo never did convert to Christianity, he too often cited Bible stories in his works. Shen Congwen (1902-88) travelled from Hunan province to Beijing carrying two books with him - the Shiji and the Bible. From these he learned literary narration and the techniques of emotional expression and style. He esteemed the Bible throughout his lifetime and continued to read it everyday through to old age.47 Zhou Zuoren (1885-1967) used the Bible to learn foreign languages, and because of this felt emotionally attached to Christianity. Cao Yu (1910-96) and Bing Xin (1900-99) both had early contact with the Bible.48 The Bible was significant in the construction of the new literary language of China, particularly the Union Version of 1919, which promoted the development of modern vernacular Chinese. In 1941 Zhu Weizhi (1905-99) wrote in the introduction to his book Christianity and Literature:

Of course, China already has a long cultural history, with a unique and rich literary inheritance; but this was the contribution of previous eras, and the efforts of our ancestors. We have entered the new world and badly need a new spirit, a new character and a new style to make new contributions to literature. It is not enough that the new literature has the veneer of a foreign religion - we need elements of the spiritual foundation of Christianity.49 Zhu also pointed out that the greatest contribution of Christianity before the May Fourth movement was the translation and publication of the Bible, the most representative version of which was the Mandarin Union Version. After May Fourth, the Bible's greatest influence on Chinese literature was thought to lie in the translation and publication of hymns, particularly Hymns of Universal Praise, published in 1936.50 Chinese authors gained much from the Bible. Shen Congwen candidly said that when he first learned composition, he was mainly reliant on the vernacular version of the Bible, and in repeated reading, he 'received


Chen Jianming

much beneficial inspiration, learning the basics of narrating feelings7, and that he 'liked the translated versions nearest to vernacular Chinese', 'and some of the sections filled with lyrical poetry7.51 Zhu Ziqing also held that 'the modern Mandarin translation of the Bible has enriched our language7.52 Guo Moruo thought that the impact of the vernacular Bible on modern Chinese was practically comparable to the impact of the translation of the Buddhist scriptures on classical Chinese: 'I know that translation work is not an easy task, and the style of translation is not an insignificant element in the casting of a national language or literature. This leads us to wonder about the influence which translations of the sutras had on Chinese literature from the Sui and Tang onwards, and also leads us to think about the influence of translations of the Bible and modern Western literary works on the current Chinese-language literature/ 53 Much of Ai Qing7s poetry draws directly on the Bible. For example, The Death of a Nazarene, written in 1933, describes the episode where Jesus was betrayed by a traitor and executed. Many poems and odes allude to idioms and classic biblical tales.54 There are at least 63 references in Ba Jin7s works to biblical material or allusions, as well as innumerable instances of vocabulary or proverbs originating in the Bible.55 The popularity of the vernacular Bible greatly expanded the lexicon of modern Chinese, in vocabulary, literary quotations and phrases. Zhu Weizhi has noted the common use by Chinese authors in their literary creations of words such as paradise, angels, doomsday, crucifix, baptism, soul and so forth. Allusions to the Fall, the Exodus, the Prodigal Son and Judas7 betrayal are also frequently found.56 Zhou Zuoren, a pioneer of the new literature, expressed more profound opinions on the relationship between the Bible and new literature. In an article 'The Bible and Chinese Literature7, published in 1921, he discussed the positive effects of vernacular Chinese translations of the Bible: I remember that people used to object to the New Literature, saying that such writing could not be said to be new, because it was all from the Gospel according to Matthew. At the time I found such words laughable, but when I think about it now, I admire their insight. Matthew7s Gospel really was the earliest Europeanized literary vernacular Chinese, and I predict that it will have an extremely significant and close relationship with the way ahead for the new literature of China.57 Zhou Zuoren described the significance of the experience of Chinese translations of the Bible in the construction of the new literary language: Although previous generations passed down to us various kinds of spoken records, collected sayings and dramas, which can be used for reference, if we want to use them to express rather more refined or elegant thoughts, these are insufficient. Some people advocate 'a literary national language (Mandarin)7, others a Europeanized vernacular, and these are all very reasonable, but this kind of

Modern Chinese Attitudes Towards the Bible


idealistic language cannot be instantly constructed: it needs to go through a period of research and experimentation before a foundation can even roughly be established. Even a chronic illness is not too late to treat, but we are not satisfied with long-term cures, and always want to get better faster than is possible. I have recently found the right type of treatment in the Bible, because it is really a Europeanized literary national language that has undergone much research and experimentation, and we can use it for reference and as a tool ... The vernacular translation is in fact very good and it also has great value as literature. Although we cannot determine what is the best or designate a kind of ultimate model for beauty, it can be said that the Bible uses, from today's viewpoint, unusually good vernacular. The translation was originally intended for religious purposes, and the literary aspects are not necessarily deliberately emphasized, but because of the careful and accurate translation, much of the literary flavour of the original has been retained, raising its literary value.58 Such literary forms as the eulogies and prayers in new literature are also new lyrical forms produced under the influence of the relevant biblical literary forms. In 1936 the publication of Hymns of Universal Praise symbolized a new era in the compilation of hymns by the Chinese Church, becoming the most famous and most widely sold collection of hymns. While the modern writer Xu Dishan (1893-1941) was at Yenching University, he participated in church activities and took part in Christian literary work. Among these, his 'God Save China' anthem was based on the form and tune of the British national anthem. When editing the Hymns of Universal Praise, Xu had Yan Yinliu (1899-1984), score a new melody for this, entitled 'The Beautiful Land'. The hymn acquired a new style and was able to convey the patriotic fervour of Chinese Christians. Chinese Christian literature also had its prayers: examples being Bing Xin's Evening Prayer and Liang Zhongdai's (1903-83) Evening Prayer, Wen Yiduo's (1899-1946) Prayers, Mou Dan's (1918-77) Two Prayers, as well as Wang Duqing's (1898-1940) Before the Statue of Mary. The contemporary scholar Liu Lixia has written in detail on the influence of the Bible on the new literature of China. We might concur with her conclusions that the Bible 'has been a multifaceted resource for Chinese literature, as manifest in the introduction and transplantation of biblical language and verbal imagery; in the recognition and embodiment of the spirit of Christianity manifest in the Bible; and in the borrowing from and absorption of the biblical style'.59 The leader of the New Culture Movement Chen Duxiu wrote in February 1920 in an article entitled 'Christianity and the Chinese People': 'I think Christianity is a religion of love ... The most fundamental doctrines of Christianity are faith and love, everything else is secondary/ Chen did not believe in the theology of Christianity, but still thought highly of Jesus Christ's moral ideals as narrated in the Bible. As he wrote:


Chen Jianming

Genesis, the doctrine of Trinity, and various spiritual notions of Christianity are mostly ancient mythology and false analogies, which have been undermined by the study of history and science. We should discard our old beliefs and find new beliefs. What is this new faith? Jesus' esteemed, great moral character, and his fervent, deep feelings. He concluded: 'We know no other Christian doctrines than Jesus' moral character and feelings. This kind of fundamental doctrine has never been damaged by scientists, and will not be in the future/ 60 As Chen Duxiu was writing this article, he was participating in the process to establish the Chinese Communist Party. As a believer in Marxism and Leninism he could not believe in religion, but through his study of Christianity he did believe he could use Jesus' ethical teaching to change China's situation. Jesus was, for Chen, not God, but a person of high moral character. Even after accepting Marxism, Chen Duxiu continued to believe in Jesus' precious spirit of universal love and self-sacrifice, but with less mention of forgiveness.61 This essay has outlined different understandings and attitudes of modern Chinese towards the Bible. Those who treated the Bible as a heterodox teaching were mainly the feudal elites in the late Qing; in the republican period they were the new-style intellectuals and revolutionaries. The communists advocated atheism and did not believe in any religion, including Christianity. Those who took the Bible as their rule of faith were of course devout Christians, coming from each and every level of society. Those who used the Bible to promote revolutionary activities included genuine Christians (such as Sun Yat-sen) and false Christians (such as Hong Xiuquan). Those who borrowed literary forms and images from the Bible to enrich Chinese language and literature, and those who drew on its humanitarian spirit tended to be writers and the cultured elite. The majority of these had no Christian faith but often expressed a 'Christian spirit'.62 A final point remains: to acknowledge an inherent weakness in study of the Bible in China. This essay has in the main reflected the understandings and attitudes of the educated towards the Bible. This is due to the low literacy level of the wider populace in China in the modern era, who have no direct means of reading the Bible. For this reason, we lack an understanding of their reception of the Bible.

Notes This chapter was translated by Humphrey Ko. 1. And of the 14 million scriptures that the Chinese Bible Society sold between 1914 and 1950, 500,000 were full bibles, and 600,000 New Testaments. Tang Yin, 'Zhonghua Jidujiao shengjing shiye shiliao jianbian', Summary of Historical Data on Bible Publications by the Churches of Christ in China, Xiejing Monthly (Shanghai), 9 (1953): 48. The exact figures given are: 2,003,231 NTs and 6,610,794 complete bibles for the years 1814^1940; 14,070,614 scriptures from the Chinese Bible Society, of which 544,012 were complete bibles and 618,491 NTs.

Modern Chinese Attitudes Towards the Bible


2. Ma Zuyi, Zhongguo fanyi jianshi [A Concise History of Translation in China], (Beijing: China Translation and Publishing Corporation, 2001;), p. 51. 3. Yang Xiangji: 'Yangjiao suo yan duo buhe xiren gezhi xinlilun' [Where the Foreign Religion does not Accord with New Theory of Natural Sciences in the West], in Ge Shijun (ed.), Huangchao jingshixven xubian [Collected Essays on National Affairs in the Imperial Dynasties], Vol. 112 (n.p.: 1888). 4. 'Bixie shilu' [How to Ward off Evil Spirits], quoted in Lii Shih-Chiang, Zhongguo guanshen fanjiao de yuanyin [The Origin and Cause of the Anti-Christian Movement among Gentry (Taipei: Institute of Modern History Academia Sinica, 1985; 3rd edn), p. 38. 5 'Hunan hesheng gongxi' [Public Proclamation from Hunan Province, in Wang Minglun (ed.), Fan yangjiao shuwen jietie xuan [Selections of Documents and pamphlets on the Anti-Christian Movement] (Beijing: Qilu, 1984), p. 2. 6. Lin Changyi, 'Bixie jiaoyi' [On Warding off Heresy], Xiao shiqu ge zvenji, Vol. 1. 7. 'Hunan hesheng gongxi', p. 2. 8. Wang Bingxue, 'Shang xiekui wogenfeng zhongtang shu' [A Letter to Wogenfeng], Wu ziqi shi wenji, juan 6 (n.p., Qing dynasty). 9. Liang Tingnan, Yesujiao nan ru Zhongguo shuo [On the difficulties for Christianity in China] (1844), cited in Gu Weimin, Jidujiao yu jindai Zhongguo shehui [Christianity and Modern Chinese Society] (Shanghai: Shanghai Renmin, 1996), p. 205. 10. Fang Xing and Tang Zhijun (eds), Wang Too riji [Wang Tao's Diary] (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1987), p. 92. 11. Zhu Zhixin, 'Yesu shi shenme dongxi' [What Sort of Thing is Jesus?], in Zhu Zhixin ji [Zhu Zhixin Collected Works], Vol.1 (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1979), pp. 63&-48, p. 645. 12. In the early 1930s Che organized the Chengdu Christian Improvement Association, an anti-imperialist group, advocating 'self-support', 'self-propagation' and 'selfnourishing'; he also published a magazine, Improvement 13. Che Yaoxian, Che Yaoxian jinian wenji [Corpus to Commemorate Che Yaoxian] (Chengdu, Sichuan: Benshu bian weihui bian, 2002), p. 1. 14. George Hunter McNeur, China's first preacher, Liang A-fa, 1789-1855, trans. Hu Zanyun; Jindai shi ziliao 2 (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1979; 2nd edn), p. 151 15. Mrs Eliza A. Morrison, Ma Lisun huiyi lu [Memoirs of the life and Labours of Robert Morrison], trans. Gu Changsheng (Guilin: Guangxi Normal University Press, 2004), p. 164. 16. Xia Junxia, Qingmo Minchu zhishifenzhi dui jidujiao dejiena yu rentong [The Identification with Christianity of Intellectuals of the Late Qing and Early Republican Eras], in Wang Zhongxin (ed.), Duoyuanhua de Zhongguo yu jidujiao (Scarborough, ON: Christian Communication, 2001), pp. 19-21. 17. Mrs Howard Taylor, Xi Shengmo zhuan: jieduzhe de kaige [Pastor Hsi - Confucian Scholar and Christian], trans, l i u Yin Ling (Hongkong: Christian Communications, 1993), p. 60. 18. See Wang Shou'en, l i u Anrong, 'Jindai Shanxi chuantong wenren dui jidujiao de paichi yu guiyi - yi l i u Dapeng, Xi Shengmo Weili' [Conversions to Christianity among Modern Literati in Shanxi Province: the cases of Liu Dapeng and Xi Shengmo], Zongjiaoxue Yanjiu [Religious Studies Journal of Sichuan University], 2 (2006): 103-7. 19. Wang Jishen, 'Wo shi zenyang xiangxin jidujiao de' [How I Came to Believe in Christianity], in Wu Yaozong (ed.), Jidujiao yu xin Zhongguo [Christianity and the New China] (Shanghai: Youth Association Press, 1940), pp. 124-45; see pp. 124-7. 20. Wu Yaozong, 'Jidujiao yu weiwulun: yige jidutu de ziyou' [Christianity and Materialism: A Christian's Liberty], Daxue Yuekan [University Monthly], 7 (1947); quoted in Ding Guangxun, 'Zhongguo jidutu zenyang kandai Shengjing' [How Chinese Christians regard the Bible], in Ding Guangxun wenji [Collected Works of Ding Guangxun] (Nanjing: Yilin Press, 1998), p. 82. 21. Zhao Zichen, Wu Leichuan, Wu Yaozong 'Wo wei shenme yao du shengjing? Yong



23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31.

32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43.

Chen fianming shenme fangfa du shengjing?' [Why Do I Read the Bible? What Methods should I Use to Read It?], Shengming yuekan [life Monthly], 1.6 (1921): 1. Liang Hui, Chu Liangcai, Huang Tianhai, 'Zhongguo xiandai de jidutu shi ruhe du shengjing de, yi Wu Leichuan yu Zhao Zichen chuli shengjing de yuanze yu fangfa weili' [How Did Modern Chinese Christians read the Bible? The examples of Wu Leichuan and Zhao Zichen], Shijie zongjiao yanjiu [Studies in World Religions], 3 (2005): 79^87, 79. Zhao Zichen et al, 'Why Do I Read the Bible?', p. 1. Liang Hui, 'How did Modern Chinese Christians Read the Bible?', p. 80. Zhang Zhijiang, Zheng dao yizhu [The Story of My Conversion] (Shanghai: Christian Literature Society, 1937), pp. 7-8. Zhang Runsu, 'Zhang Zhijiang xiansheng ersan shi' [Two or Three Notes on Mr Zhang Zhijiang], Tianfeng, 9 (1988): 24. Zhang Zhijiang, Zheng dao yizhu, pp. 22-3. Lin Tianhe, 'Bennian shengjing zhi liutong' [Circulation of the Bible 1925], Zhonghua Jidu Jiaohui Nianjian [The China Church Year Book], 9 (1927): 124. Zhang Runsu, 'Zhang Zhijiang xiansheng er san shi', p. 24; Lin Tianhe, 'Bennian Shengjing zhi liutong', pp.124-8,124. Zhang Zhijiang, Zheng dao yizhu, p. 28. Li Xuande (Carlton Lacy), 'Liang nian lai shengjinghui zhi gaikuang' [Overview of the Bible Societies over the Last Two Years], Zhonghua jidu jiaohui nianjian, 11, section 4 (1930): 75-6. In 1933, when the American Bible Society celebrated its 100th year of print publication of the Bible, Zhang Zhijiang participated in a series of promotional activities; the 'Christian General' being guest of honour at events across the south coast. When in 1937 the American Bible Society, English Bible Society and Scottish Bible Society negotiated the establishment of the Chinese Bible Society, Zhang Zhijian became a member of its executive committee. See Lloyd Haft's contribution to this volume, ch. 12. Liang Fa, 'Quanshi liangyan' [Good Words to Exhort the World], Jindaishi ziliao, Vol. 2 (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1979), pp. 1-141. A.F. Lindley, Ti Ping Tien Kxvoh [The History of the Ti-ping Revolution, including a Narrative of the Author's Personal Adventures], trans. Wang Weizhou (Shanghai: Shanghai Guji, 1985), p. 31. Society of Chinese History, Taiping Tianguo [The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom] (Shanghai: Shanghai People's Publishing House, 1957), Vol. 4, p. 735; Vol. 6, p. 824. Luo Ergang, Taiping Tianguo Shiliao Kaoshi fi [Annotated Historical Data of the Taiping] (Beijing: Sanlian, 1956), p. 78. Cui Canghai, 'Shi lieshi yu jidujiao xintu hezuo geming zhi xinshi' [The Truth on Martyr Shi's Revolutionary Cooperation with Christians], Zhenguang Zazhi [True light Review Special Issue for 25th Anniversary June] (1927). Sun Zhongshan, Sun Zhongshan quanji [Collected Works of Sun Yat-sen], Vol. 11 (Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 1986), pp. 537-8. Wang Chonghui, 'Zhuihuai Guofu shulue' [Remembering Sun Yat-sen], Geming Xianlie Xianjin chanyang guofu sixiang lunwenji [Colloquia of Revolutionary Martyrs and Precursors on the Thought of Sun Yat-sen], Vol. 1 (Taibei: n.p, 1965). Sun Zhongshan, Sun Zhongshan quanji, p. 240. Xing Fuzeng (Ying Fuk-tsang), Jidu xinyang yu jiuguo shijian: ershi shiji qianqi de gean yanjiu [Christian Doctrine and the Praxis of National Salvation: A Case Study of the First Half of the Twentieth Century] (Hongkong: Alliance Bible Seminary, 1997), pp. 293-4. Second Historical Archives of China (eds), Feng Yuxiang riji [Feng Yuxiang's Diary] (Nanjing: Jiangsu Classics 1992), Vol. 4, p. 865 (28 December 1936); Vol. 5, p. 13 (13 January 1937); Vol. 5, p. 409 (13 March 1938). Zhang Zhijiang, Zheng dao yi zhu, p. 7.

Modern Chinese Attitudes Towards the Bible


44. Zhang Zhijiang, Zheng dao yi zhu, p. 25. 45. See e.g. J. Monsterleet, Ba Jin de shenghuo yu zhuztw [The life and Writings of Ba Jin], trans. Wang Jiwen (Hongkong: Wenfeng Press, 1950), p. 164. 46. Guo Moruo, 'Shuang Huang7, Guo Moruo quanji wenxw bian [Collected Works of Guo Moruo], Vol. 10 (Beijing: Renmin Wenxue, 1984), p. 95. 47. Jeffrey C. Kinkley, The Odyssey qfShen Congwen [Fenghuang zhi zi: Shen Congwen zhuan], trans. Fu Qiaqin (Beijing: Zhongguo Youyi, 1999), p. 172. 48. Editor's note: this litany of names represents almost all great names of early and midtwentieth-century Chinese literature. 49. Zhu Weizhi, Jidujiao yu wenxue, daoyan [Christianity and Literature, An Introduction] (Shanghai: Shanghai Shudian, 1992), p. 6. 50. Zhu Weizhi, 'Mantan sishi nianlai jidujiao wenxue zai Zhongguo' [Discussion of 40 Years of Christian Literature in China], Jinling Shenxue Zhi [Nanking Seminary Review], 26. 1, 2 (1950). 51. Shen Congwen, Congwen zizhuan [Autobiography of Shen Congwen] (Beijing: People's Literature, 1981), p. 135. 52. Zhu Ziqing, Xinshi zahua [On New Poetry] (Beijing: Sanlian, 1984), p. 64. 53. Guo Moruo, 'Fushide Jianlun' [Concise Discussion on Faust], in Luo Xinzhang (ed.) Fanyi lunji [Discourse on Translation] (Beijing: Shangwu, 1984), p. 335. 54. Zhang Zhichun, 'Ai Qing yu shengjing' [Ai Qing and the Bible], Yan'an Daxue Xuebao [Yan'an University Journal], 1 (1990): 37-44, 37. 55. Dong Biyan, 'Ba Jin yu shengjing' [Ba Jin and the Bible], Jiang Huai luntan [Jiang Huai Tribune], 2 (1988): 80-2, 80. 56. See Zhu Weizhi, 'Zhongguo wenxue de zongjiao beijing' [On the Religious Context of Chinese Literature: A Bird's-eye View], Jinling Shenxue Zhi [Nanking Seminary Review], 12.10 (1940). 57. Zhou Zuoren, 'Shengshu yu Zhongguo wenxue' [The Bible and Chinese literature], Xiaoshuo Yuebao [The Short Story Magazine], 12.1 (1921): 7-13, 7. 58. Zhou Zuoren, 'The Bible and Chinese Literature', pp. 6-7. 59. Liu Lixia, 'Guanhua heheben shengjing de chenggong fanyi jiqi dui Zhongguo xin wenxue de yingxiang' [Successful Translation of the Mandarin Union Bible and its Impact on China's New Literature], Nanjing Shifan Daxue Wenxueyuan Xuebao [Journal of School of Chinese Language and Culture Nanjing Normal University], 3 (2005): 94-100, 94. 60. Chen Duxiu, 'Jidujiao yu Zhongguo ren' [Christianity and the Chinese] in Duxiu Wencun (Anhui: Anhui Renmin, 1987), pp. 279-89, pp. 279, 283, 286. 61. Guo Xiuwen, 'Ye lun Chen Duxiu yu jidujiao' [On Chen Duxi and Christianity], Fujian Luntan [Fujian Forum], 7 (2005). 62. Cf. Yang Jianlong, Kuangye de husheng: Zhongguo xiandai zuojia yu jidujiao wenhua [The Cry from the Wild: Modern Chinese Writers and Christian Culture] (Shanghai: Shanghai Jiaoyu, 1998).

2 Reading Christian Scriptures: The Nineteenth-Century Context Chloe StanStored in the Bodleian library in Oxford for over a century have been two large collections of publications by missionaries in China. These works, many of them short tracts, were exhibited at international book exhibitions, one in Philadelphia in 1876 and one in London in 1884. The catalogue for the Philadelphia exhibition gives us a good idea of the sort of scriptural texts produced for nineteenth-century Chinese consumption and begins to sow doubt into notions of 'the Bible' as an entity published, distributed and taught to Chinese Christians.1 Apart from 50 or so different editions and single books of scripture, there were several hundred commentaries and annotated scriptures, narrative works, including educational primers, biographies of saints, catechisms and liturgical books such as prayer-books and hymn-books. The volume of tracts and para-biblical texts begins to give an idea of how the Protestant missionaries - who put so much emphasis on translating and introducing scripture throughout China - viewed those scriptures: theologically, pedagogically and devotionally. This chapter provides a brief introduction to the types of scriptural text available in China in the nineteenth century, and considers what this array of annotated works and exegetical essays might have meant for the incipient Protestant Church. Study of the Bible in China to date has been dominated in the West by attempts to trace histories of editions, and to examine the roles and characters of the Western missionary translators.2 In concentrating scholarly attention on Bible translations and their chronology, under the assumption that this consumed all the energies of the missionaries, less emphasis has been placed on their textual context. Although missionary tracts have been the subject of linguistic and theological enquiries,3 there is still little written on non-biblical texts, with nothing published, for example, on the Book of Common Prayer in China, although that cornerstone of Anglican liturgy and worship appeared in numerous translations across the century in various language levels, dialects and textual forms. This essay began as an attempt to study how late-Qing intellectuals approached the Bible as a text, to reconcile traditional Chinese modes of reading and textual scholarship with patterns of Bible study as introduced by their missionary tutors.4 The aim was to question whether Qing dynasty textual scholarship, philological techniques, commentary and 'accompanied reading' traditions had any effect on patterns of 32

Reading Christian Scriptures: The Nineteenth-Century Context


nineteenth-century biblical reading. Did an accommodation of Chinese textual practices threaten an orthodox Western reading of scripture, or rather enable a Chinese comprehension? The level of influence that Western missionary publications in baihua SIS (spoken vernacular Chinese) had on the developing Chinese language in the nineteenth century is beginning to be reassessed in mainland China,5 but there is scant research on the reverse effect: how Chinese textual practices influenced missionary translators and educators. And when Chinese Christians translated scriptural texts for themselves, did their centuries of inherited thinking on canons and classical interpretive practices leave a mark which has influenced modern scriptural reading practices? Or is the modern institutional framework of New and Old Testament studies in Chinese seminaries, and analysis in the Chinese academy, entirely derived from Western curricula from the early twentieth century? It soon became apparent, however, that this is not an adequate frame of reference. The original intent of this essay was to use the extensive collection of nineteenth-century Christian tracts and biji (notes or essays, often recording an individual's daily life) in the Bodleian Library's holdings to build up as clear a picture as possible of how newly converted, educated Chinese scholars reconciled the reading of Christian scripture with their own patterns of text reading, but prior questions surrounding the texts available to Qing readers demand consideration before scholars' reading habits can be determined. The reception of the Bible by Qing intellectuals cannot be separated from the parallel processes of the making-Chinese of the text by its Western translators and contextualizers, and this has yet to be researched in depth. Three initial points emerge, which will be sketched throughout this essay: that Protestant writings were more in line with centuries of Catholic production than might be imagined, with scores of parabiblical texts out in the reading environment; that the availability of such texts recasts the reception/appropriation question; and that a textual reformatting is a key part of that reception - but on the part of the missionaries, rather than the Chinese side. Several categories of text supplement the numerous annotated scriptures and commentary editions that rolled off the mission presses, and this essay presents a rather taxonomic examination of primers and children's educational texts, Bible stories and dictionaries, as well as liturgical texts which quote extensively from Scripture. Other categories of published tracts and volumes included biographies, hymnals, apologetic essays, allegories such as translations of Pilgrim's Progress, and later in the century, systematic theologies and volumes of church history. The great majority of these were, however, translated from English-language sources, sometimes edited for Chinese consumption, whereas much Bible-related material was produced specifically for Chinese readers and reading patterns.6 Although translations of the Bible into Chinese are not the focus of this essay, it is worth an early digression to note that among these too, the addition of intertextual and supratextual commentary often followed Chinese practice, blurring the distinction between Bible and commen-


Chloe Starr

tary. Block-printing, the major form of Chinese print production, had for centuries provided a means of cheap and rapid book production, and one which encouraged a textual fluidity and discouraged notions of copyright or authorial intellectual ownership of the text. When Chinese circulated manuscripts among friends, for example, they would not expect the text to return in its pristine form. Reading was a process of writing, and rewriting: all educated Chinese were trained in techniques of textual emendation. Handwritten commentaries often found their way into later editions of texts, and 'eyebrow' commentary at the top of the page supplemented intertextual commentary in printed editions of texts.7 While the American Samuel Schereschewsky's translation of Genesis from 1866 provides a rare example of a 'straight' Bible translation, late in the century,8 many more followed Chinese textual norms. Produced in Shanghai, Schereschewsky's unannotated portion of scripture is without preface or explanatory notes, the text itself divided only by tiny interlineal verse numbers. Proper names and place names are marked by lines running vertically alongside the text, but the aim has clearly been to produce as unmediated a text as possible. In the Chinese context, such an edition makes a strong theological statement, presenting the scripture for God to speak through directly, and presuming a notion of textual reading that distinguishes it from the various annotated and sinicized texts on the market. Medhurst's Annotated Romans is a much more typical example of nineteenth-century Bible translation-cum-annotation: the biblical text is interspersed with copious explanations.9 Detailed notes follow each phrase or sentence in Paul's letter. The first couple of line annotations, for example, include discussion of the time frame of writing (AD 57); the language of the text ('colloquial Greek'), the target audience, and so on. The notes also move towards application: if we really want to understand difficult texts, we should pray humbly. Early verses gloss the name of Paul/Saul; present cross-scriptural references to the Old Testament; explanation of diaconal content; historical background, theological explanation of the Trinity, as well as notes which provide cross references to the Chinese context. The reader of this scripture is told, for example, that David was King of Israel about the time of King Zhao of the Zhou dynasty. This form of text would be readily comprehensible to readers educated in textual emendation practices. 1. Primers A flourishing industry of children's Christian material in Chinese emerged after formal Sunday schools were established in China in the late 1860s, with large numbers of popular children's tracts produced in translation by the Chinese Religious Tract Society in the 1880s.10 However, much earlier in the century, some radically Chinese teaching material was being produced, the most outstanding example a primer by W.H. Medhurst.11 There are tens of extant editions of Medhurst's

Reading Christian Scriptures: The Nineteenth-Century Context


Trimetrical Classic, or Three Character Scripture [Sanzi jing], a work based

on the Chinese children's character-learning text, and taking the same title. Termed jing, 'classic' or 'scripture', Medhurst was able, just as Catholic predecessors had done in their Four Character Scripture texts, to draw on this ambiguity to create a short Christian text that both aspired to the teaching status of a classic and was scriptural. Medhurst's original was published in 1823, and reprinted numerous times.12 Alternative versions followed from other missionaries,13 and commentary editions were soon supplemented by sequels and imitative versions.14 Versions for educating females, such as Sophia Martin's Trimetrical Classic for Girls [Xunnii sanzijing] promoted a more gendered agenda, combining instruction on the value of female learning with theological input which paralleled the standard (i.e. male) texts. 15 The three- (and four-) character scriptures are some of the most innovative missionary-authored parascriptural texts ever to have been produced. The Bible is recreated in precis, in rhyming couplets of three characters each. More poem than academic exegesis, Medhurst's text is highly creative, with an assonant, regulated flow of speech, in a clapperbeat text. The three-note text simplifies the entire biblical narrative, but cleverly so: the sense is retained even though the work is only 924 characters long, like a Reduced Shakespeare Company rendition of the Bard's plays in an hour. Daoist elements vie with Confucian and Buddhist terms. Creation resonates with the opening lines of the Daodejingin its 'Beginning without beginning, it ends without end' (#p MUn, &&&&), and prosperity theology meets Platonic dualism.16 This is very much a Chinese document, drawing on Chinese language, culture and pedagogy: critics might question whether it is possible to have too much acculturation. In terms of content, like many of the missionary products, the Three Character Scripture text leaps from Genesis almost directly to Jesus' saving power, and from there to the application of scripture. Readers are told 'how to act', that is, follow God's law, act rightly, read and obey scriptures, receive baptism and communion. The 'message' of Protestant evangelicalism is integrated into the Scripture. This predigested reading of scripture focuses on belief and a right response; on grace and action, on the apocalypse and judgement demanding unceasing prayer and praise from God's people, a rectification of hearts and a proclamation by mouth. Annotated versions of the classic tell us perhaps more about their author's views on scripture and its function. An 1846 edition from Ningbo of Medhurst's text with commentary by D.B. McCartee, entitled

New Improved, Annotated Three Character Scripture, provides one such

example.17 Each six-character phrase, or couplet, is given a paragraph of comment. This is no longer a text for children or illiterate learning, but a much more detailed educational work. Even in children's textbooks, the missionaries were bringing their commentary on texts into texts, in Chinese fashion. The first phrase: 'He transformed heaven and earth, and created all creatures' (uc?ct&, 7&M$J), is expanded with comment explaining how heaven and earth could not have been born of themselves, but needed a creator God to produce them, and that this


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true Creator Lord made heaven and earth, including the sun, moon and rain. Without a sun, moon, clouds and rain, then there would be no grass or trees, and thus no food for birds and animals. Amplification of the meaning of this stylistically brief text is intermixed with explanation of a more biological or zoological nature. Comment on the second phrase ('He created humans, the true Lord' JkM\, jfc#±) melds an explanation of how God provides for all human needs, with an explanation of who he is, going to the root of the theological argument of the nature and substance of the Trinity. Even before he created people, notes the commentator, first God created food for people, together with clothes and objects for daily use, and then afterwards created them. He made it so that if people were hungry there would be food, if they were cold there would be clothes. The true God has three persons (you san wei WH $L) called the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; his substance is of one nature and one body (qi shi zhi you yi xing yi ti ^Ilf KW^tt-HSf). In the commentarial glosses, a significant amount of theology is introduced. Some annotations give detail to the impressionistic flow of the poetry, others correct knowledge of the Chinese pantheon. Explanation of the omnipotent Christian God, for example, is followed with discussion of his name, Shangdi, and comparisons made between the God who is uncreated, and the Great Jade Emperor (Yuhuang taidi), whose birth-date we know as the ninth day of the first lunar month. Some phrases of the text are annotated with reference to scripture, such as 'God is Spirit, eternally without form' (#j^ll> MMJf) which is glossed by reference to Jn 4.24 on worshipping God in spirit and truth, and a quotation from Acts on how to worship, noting in passing that prayer requests must come from a life of doing good. God's nature and form preoccupy the first several stanzas of the primer. The commentator explains how God's creating humans in his image did not mean that God had a form, since he was spirit, but that humanity shared the same nature as God, with humans possessing the four Confucian virtues of benevolence, righteousness, ritual propriety and wisdom (ren, yi, li, zhi tUtlSW), and a spirit and knowledge that enables them to manage the earth and its flora and fauna. The story of Adam, Eve and the prohibited tree is equally elliptical in the text, but prolix in the annotation. God wanted to see if Adam and Eve would obey him, and set a small test, ordering that they not eat the fruit of just one kind of tree. The devil, formerly an angel who rebelled and was punished by God, took the form of a snake. Some say, notes the commentator, that Eve's sin was a very minor sin, but this is not so: God did not intend to give them any other orders, merely prohibit one tree to test them. This was a very easy order to follow, but still Eve was unwilling, and so their sin was great, and their nature changed to evil. 'AH are evil, there are none who are holy', continues the text, with support from David in the Psalms, and metaphorically from Jesus, whose saying 'a good tree produces good fruit, and an evil tree evil fruit' is here quoted as referring to people's hearts, that with evil hearts they cannot do good acts. If our founding ancestors had evil hearts, the same is true for the generations they gave birth to, states the commentator, explicitly

Reading Christian Scriptures: The Nineteenth-Century Context


countering the theory of innate human goodness of the philosopher Mencius. From these first few stanzas and their explanations, it can be seen how historical and theological/mythical explanation are intertwined, with an emphasis on comprehending scripture in order to transform one's mode of life. 2. Biblical stories and narratives Biblical texts were reworked into story formats by missionary educators, employing different styles to appeal to their readership. Like other categories of work, many of these were direct translations of English materials, and like much of the missionary output, by the last third of the century had adopted a level of language that was somewhere between the written language of official documents and the written vernacular of popular fiction. The missionaries termed this 'qian wenli' or easy classical, and it can be seen as a precursor to the colloquial vernacular adopted for writing by the early twentieth-century iconoclasts.18 Medhurst's volume of 1846, Historical Records of the Bible [Shengjing shiji

SLUjfetfi], predated the vogue for translation over composition. The title refers directly to the great literary-historical text of Sima Qian from the second century BCE, and presents the Bible broken up into narrative episodes.19 Non-versified, unlike scripture translations, Medhurst's text is characteristically both simple and highly readable. The stories that he retells are close to translated versions of the Bible. This can be seen in the narrative of the first six days in Genesis, the text of which reproduces almost verbatim circulating editions of the Bible. A notable feature of Medhurst's selection of stories is his use of commentary notes at the end of chapters in the voice of the Grand Historian (^C5fe), in the manner of Sima Qian's Historical Records. This formula provided an excellent opportunity for comment, served to authenticate the stories, and deliberately placed the narrative in the mould of great historical writing. 'What this chapter has been discussing is the day of rest and events in paradise', begins one such entry. 'Now there are two uses of the Sabbath, to honour God, and to give rest to people on earth.' Like the annotated Bibles, Medhurst's book of historical narratives takes the opportunity to develop the message of scripture after the interests of the writer. This compilation of narratives continues with the flood, Abraham and Isaac, through to Moses by Chapter 28, but the work remains unfinished. Other works were more derivative. J.W. Quarterman's 38-page storytext stands out for the quality of its illustrations.20 These are Western engravings, presenting Western/Jewish-looking figures showing some of the more renowned episodes in the lives of biblical characters in characteristic poses, such as Cain killing Abel, the animals entering the ark and others drowning in the flood; Babylon and Babel, etc. The link between the pictures and passages suggests Quarterman's selection of stories was governed by available illustrations. The stories again integrate comment with the abridgements, with thematic links made between Old and New Testament episodes. Creation, for example, comes


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with Jesus' teaching on the Sabbath added in, and this is then extended to contemporary application: 'Someone asks, how may we serve the true God?' Answer: read the Bible, sing hymns, pray, do good works, listen to teachings in church, and teach your family members to do the same. The story of the flood and Noah is linked to discourse on sacrifice (via the thank-offering Noah sacrificed) and thence to Christ, and Christ's sacrifice as the means to salvation. Episodes develop away from the text: from Noah, for example, the comment moves to an extended section on idols, with historical references to the descendants of Noah in Asia, and specifically to the Han Chinese as descendants of biblical figures.

3. Bible dictionaries The English term 'dictionary' covers a number of different texts in Chinese. John MacGowan's 1873 translation of John Eadie's Biblical Cyclopaedia (1849), is closest to the notion of an explanatory volume of words and terms used in scripture, representing both a translated and an interpreted volume in its form.21 Three pages of preface in classical Chinese explain the need for a searchable volume and the value of scriptural study. Unlike Chinese-language dictionaries, opines the preface, this one is not contending for linguistic brilliance, or competing with the heterodox theories and false doctrines of minor schools of learning, but aims to expel falsity and revere truth.22 The dictionary is compiled in stroke order and then thematically, with an index according to traditional radical order (—§P, J SP, ZM, etc.). Much of the dictionary covers proper names: people and places, giving reference for each from within scripture together with an explanation of the term. The first fascicle of text begins with the term 'seven' (qi -b), explaining how much use is made of the number seven in the Bible, with God creating the world in seven days, seven years of good and bad harvests, Jewish festivals on the seventh day, through to the seven churches, seven candlesticks, seven spirits, etc. of the apocalypse, and so on.23 The second entry in the text discusses the name Shangdi (God), which signals the tetragrammaton YHWH, 'the One Who is of Himself, Jehovah', and who showed his power in creating all creatures. A cultural as well as linguistic frame of reference is built up for readers across the entries, which number several hundred. A second form of bible 'dictionary' is exemplified by A.P. Happer's Elaborating the Meaning of Holy Scripture of 1874.24 This is not so much a

dictionary as a summary of each book of the Bible in turn, with a page of text per book. Happer's reference text is written in a modern vernacular (baihua) and is simple to follow: those with a moderate education could consult it easily. Each section presents a mixture of analysis and interpretation of a book, giving basic information on authorship and composition, commenting on the structure of the text, and pointing out any other important features. The section on Genesis, for example, explains that this book is the first of the Pentateuch, written by Moses through revelation, and describes how Jehovah (Yehehua) created

Reading Christian Scriptures: The Nineteenth-Century Context



heaven, earth and humankind, and how the records of the first nine generations of humankind describe human sin and its consequences in Adam and in Noah. Babel, Abraham and Sarah are all alluded to, as Happer points out that the book of Genesis covers the events of 2,369 years.25 Thematically, the power of God to create and destroy, to punish sin and apply grace, is signalled. Scripture is revelation, and what is written must come true. The veracity of Genesis is clear: there are only a few generations from Adam down to Moses, so the events were not so far removed in time, and both later references, and the interrelation of Genesis with New Testament texts prove its revelatory truth. The description of Genesis ends with a note on the three divisions of the narrative: Chapters 1-8, 9-11 and 12-49, placing the text somewhere between a dictionary and a Bible commentary. As with the previous volume, in contrast to the simple vernacular of the main text, the preface to Happer's work is in a significantly more elevated and erudite form of classical Chinese. This preface, written from the Peaceful Virtue Hall, sets out the rationale behind a scriptural overview. When you glance through the entire scriptures, you will see the height of its meaning and depths of its sentiment, its excellent perfection in discussing things pertaining to the human. God's miracles and signs are set forth in it, as is Jesus' power and glory. A reader will find, though, that the number of books is perplexing, and that there were more than 20 authors from Moses to John, all coming from different generations and with different purposes in exhorting or warning their audience. In adopting a formal division between preface and text, missionaries allowed themselves to indicate to their readership their literary skill and the true extent of their linguistic ability and erudition. The split in style and language accorded with the traditional mode of fictional writing, but in scriptures and classics there was usually no such language division. The form of preface suggests a leisured Chinese scholar penning works with a flourish from his scholar's studio. The pose of a Chinese literatus was calculated to present scriptural study as an appropriately cultured pursuit, and show that Christian writings could accord to Chinese writing norms. This text, and its line of argumentation and appeal, was directed towards the literati who had undergone a traditional education in the Confucian classics.

4. Overviews and reading guides A wide selection of works devoted to providing an overview, or outline of scriptures, was published to enable Chinese readers to find their way around the text.26 Jakob Lorcher's substantial work of 1873 is a typical example of a scriptural overview. The preface describes its aim and purpose, giving first a 'Brief Explanation of Scripture', which states that the Bible is for people to know God, his will, and his means of saving people. The second section presents an overview of the divisions of the Bible, with discussion of the two testaments: the Old Testament, divided into history, teachings and prophets, showing God's almighty nature, his


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Law and his will, and the New Testament, showing his atoning and saving power. The third section presents 'Holy Scriptures as the sure foundation of the Way', and the fourth describes the history and chronology of the Old Testament. This latter is given at length for the 2,369 years from Adam to the death of Joseph. Tables of the ages and deaths of Genesis figures (Adam at 930, Shem who lived from 912-1042; Enoch from 905-1140, etc.) are printed, alongside reign tables of the Kings of Israel and Judah, etc., presenting a historical chronology of events. The intent to historicize, and to echo the format of Chinese dynastic histories, is clear. Following this preface, the main text gives introductions and overviews book-by-book of both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. By contrast, John Preston's Table for Reading the Scriptures (1895) presents not so much an intellectual as a practical manual for Bible reading.27 The preface comments on the huge number of books in Bible: if you do not have a good method of reading them then it is difficult to be clear on the principles of righteousness. This volume, explains the author, divides up the chapters and verses, using the principle of allowing Scripture to explain Scripture, by putting associated chapters together for reading, such as where prophecies of the Old Testament are fulfilled in the New, or where the ceremonies of Moses are explained in Paul's letter to the Hebrews. The aim is to link meanings, so that readers can recite the scriptures with their mouths and turn it over in their minds. If one follows in the proper sequence then gradual progress will be made; if you respectfully obey the teaching of holy instruction, then you will daily progress and will increasingly obtain the light of the Holy Spirit. The second section of text comprises 'Reading Notes', a table of abbreviations giving the names of biblical books and the tables for scripture selections. Each year has 24 period divisions, each with 15 (or 16) days which make up the Chinese calendar year, so the Old Testament and New Testament is split up accordingly. Each day there are three reading sessions and four readings, the first and second to be read in the morning, the third during the day and fourth in the evening. Chapters are given in characters, and verses denoted by punctuation marks. The bulk of the text, a 'Reading Table for Scripture', sets out columns and rows of readings for morning, noon and night in each season, beginning with the first period of spring, following the Chinese New Year. The entire Bible may thus be conveniently and systematically read by all able to follow a calendar.

5. Selections of Scripture sentences The concerns of home environs and the societies to which missionaries were affiliated inevitably affected the patterns of scripture reading that incoming missionaries brought to China, A strong belief in the power of Scripture alone to convict and save was seen when an early missionary such as Karl Giitzlaff (1803-51) spread tracts abroad by offloading

Reading Christian Scriptures: The Nineteenth-Century Context


thousands along the littoral, and appears later in the tracts which presented dozens of sentences from Scripture with no explanation and little context.28 There were two main sets of these tracts: the first which presented selected scriptural verses (sometimes together with credal statements) to form a core outline of the gospel, and others which targeted certain vices.29 Charles Finney Preston (1829-77), an American Presbyterian, edited in the 1860s many of the latter type of 'Selections from Scripture', including ones on Avarice, Lust, Intemperance and Alcohol, as well as more benevolent topics such as the (Confucian) Five Relationships or Five Virtues. The version on Gambling is precisely that: six pages of quotations relevant to gambling (including cognate themes such as covetousness) taken sequentially from the Bible, from Exodus through to the letter of James.30 It is not wholly clear whether these texts were intended for individual exhortation or self-improvement, as teaching aids, or for group study. The Swiss missionary Rudolf Lechler's Scripture Quotations is one of many examples of compilations of string after string of scripture quotations. The pattern throughout is one of listing Bible verses plus occasional explanatory sentences, with multiple verses in each section. These decontextualized selections of scripture sentences are more programmatic in their theology and more directive in their application than other categories of text. The first few sections of Lechler's volume, for example, are headed: 1. On what the Bible teaches people about the Way they should believe 2. How we ought to follow the Way of God 3. Scripture shows us how we should treat animals 4. How to die with a mind at ease Later sections include selections of quotations on the Bible, God's law, the Decalogue, good behaviour, morality, prayer, the Kingdom of heaven; on the merit of God in creation and of Jesus in salvation; on husbands, wives, fathers and mothers, children, servants, household heads and widows. The final sections include not just scripture quotations but prayers to use on various occasions, such as in the morning, before eating, before studying, etc. The Bible becomes a guide for living and for lifestyle: a 'how to live' manual. A similar text by the well-known writer D.B. McCartee discusses at length the rationale for selections of scripture sentences, arguing that although scripture was written by different people in different eras, there is a principle (li M) which runs throughout, and that biblical books must be read together. Because of the difficulties of probing the entirety, and because local scriptural translations were not yet complete, selections by category of important sayings would enable better searching of scripture and the mysteries of the whole to be inferred.31 In addition to many of the same categories of sentences that Lechler offers, McCartee also lists scripture verses on such topics as the Trinity, forbidden foods, angels, devils and verses for those in distress or needing comfort.


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6. Liturgical texts Most missionary figures known for scripture translation also produced prayer-books, and the tens of editions and reprints testify to their import for the nascent Chinese Protestant Church. The earliest of these prayerbooks were printed in high classical Chinese, but by the 1850s missionaries such as Medhurst and Karl Gutzlaff had published editions in vernacular Chinese, alongside literary language versions. During the 1860s family editions for home use appeared, and several dialect versions of prayer-books were prepared in the southern and eastern seaboard areas around the treaty ports.32 The history of the prayer-book in China evinces a different picture of the missionary Church to usual depictions: one of ordered gatherings, of ritual and of simple services. The efforts and energy expended in publishing printed volumes of prayer-books suggest a concern for the language and meaning of the service among missionaries of various denominations, as well as belief in the value of liturgical texts for the Chinese Church. These texts expand our understanding of scriptural readings in pointing towards the liturgical use of scripture. The history of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (BCP) also raises interesting theological points regarding mission: the curious promotion of a denominational text by members of other churches; imagined relations of Church and state in China; expectations of liturgical and credal universality and of cultural assimilation. It is striking how many catechisms appear in the catalogues: even more than the number of scripture texts, and it is clear that teaching of basic doctrine was a priority for the first generation of missionaries. Most catechisms date from the 1850s through to the 1870s, with the prayerbooks falling into a similar time-bracket, from the 1840s onwards, with a concentration in the 1860s.33 The teaching role of catechistic works complements publications for use in worship like the prayer-books, which themselves contain no explanations of liturgical texts. We might suppose a natural concentration in the early years of mission activity on core texts and simple explanatory works, with higher level exegesis and hymn-books favoured once congregations were more established. (Hymns were a relatively recent addition to Sunday services in England, and large numbers of hymnals only appeared after 1820; their centrality to nonconformist worship explains the large numbers produced by missionaries.)34 Publication and marketing of prayer-books in China extended well into the twentieth century. By the 1930s catalogues of Protestant literature were still listing great numbers of full and partial translations of the scriptures categorized according to language type and the name for God used in each, but a new generation of translators had also continued to produce editions of the BCP, now most commonly under the term Gongdao wen (^}§3t). The longest of these ran to over 500 pages, suggesting that demand was still high and that editions remained widely used in the Church. Alongside standard prayer-books (where standard now meant in baihua, commonly termed 'Mandarin') readers

Reading Christian Scriptures: The Nineteenth-Century Context


could still purchase Shanghai or Fuzhou colloquial editions, a prayerbook primer, a commentary on the prayer-book, and assorted other collections of collects and prayers for use in schools. As with Bibles, translations of particular terms (especially 'God7) tended to denote denominational affiliation; and for prayer-books, the source edition itself, as well as the version of Bible from which scriptural quotations were taken, was key. The first BCP text which can be accurately dated is the 1829 text, whose title page was translated into English for the 1845 reprint as Important

Words: being the United Prayers and Supplications to God of the English Nation Translated into Chinese Characters, and bears Robert Morrison's title

'A Compendium of the Book of Common Prayer'. The average length of a Chinese prayer-book grew considerably over the course of the nineteenth century, as translations of the communion service, baptism rites for various categories of people, and occasional services such as burials or consecrations were added to the basic morning and evening prayer service texts. With increasing length came increasing variety: family prayer-books, dialect prayer-books and editions in specific language styles (high classical, simple reading) appeared in profusion. Two of the most aesthetically pleasing (and therefore most acceptable to an educated Chinese readership) texts are the parallel versions of the Complete Prayer Book which Medhurst had published at the St Paul's Press in Hong Kong in 1855. Thread-bound with a yellow paper cover on reasonable quality paper, the print style looks like any classical text, with commentary and references in dual line small print, blank circles marking speech sections, and side lines marking proper nouns. The index shows the full range of the text: in 14 bound fascicles this is the entire Book of Common Prayer, beginning with morning prayer and the litany and progressing through towards the burial service and the 39 Articles. Various glosses are provided, especially early on in the text, such as an explanation of the derivation and meaning of the characters jidu (3£|?) used for the term Christ (1/ 2b of Mandarin text); or a note that at the end of each prayer everyone should respond with the word 'Yameng' (i2i£) which means 'this is my/our desire' in colloquial Hebrew. The Book of Common Prayer of John Shaw Burdon and Samuel Schereschewsky, on which they started work in 1862 and which was issued in Peking in a print-run of 1,000 in 1872 was, like that of Medhurst, a very neat, full, professional text, bound into three volumes, utilizing the best of contemporary Chinese printing practices. Containing the BCP in full, with an entire translation of the psalms, this edition shows both what two competent linguists could achieve, with better training and dictionaries than those available to early nineteenth-century missionaries, and how the modern standard language of Mandarin was evolving. The text uses a syntax which prefers four-character phrases and such literary traces, but in a form which any educated child today could easily read. During the 1860s and 1870s a number of individuals produced editions of prayer-books in dialect form for use in their locale. Some, like the


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Methodist George Piercy's edition of A Complete Prayer Book, printed in Canton in 1859, are based on earlier Chinese texts to which alterations have been made for dialect speakers.36 Piercy's text is also one of very few to have the amens and antiphonal responses printed in red, to alert the congregation. What is notable across the dialect editions is their mixture of language levels and forms: scriptural quotations may be taken from standard versions and barely altered, and sections of antiphonal response may be practically classical Chinese, but other parts, such as the oral responses of the congregation within prayers, may be intelligible only to locals. Pronouns might be transcribed into dialect characters, but other terms are mostly written in standard characters. Texts such as Warren's Household Prayer Book (HCA^HlJt) printed in Hong Kong in 1867 were specifically designed for daily use in a household, with the words usually ascribed to the priest here printed for the household head (jia zhang ^ H ) , with 'household members7 supplying congregational responses.37 For an emergent church in a country of protocol, ritual and hierarchy, with a strong tradition of literacy, it evidently made good sense to have text-based community prayers, whatever the preferences of those from less liturgical denominations. The large numbers of prayer-books produced and the high scriptural content of the prayer-books suggest that this was one of the main ways in which Chinese congregations came to know the Bible.

Conclusions If the image of reading scripture in China conjures up a small group of people huddled in an apartment poring over the Word, then we need, at very least, to allow into the picture a few other documents on the table beside them. Chinese Bible translation and production spawned an entire language and culture industry across the nineteenth century. This twoway cultural exchange saw grammars, dictionaries and Confucian classics produced for Western study of China, and translations into Chinese of tracts, Bible stories and morality works representing the missionary offering to Chinese readers.38 One could argue that the primers and language textbooks were all part of a mission industry, geared to enabling the better learning and teaching of Chinese by mission partners in order to enhance their ministry. But the texts produced demonstrate the deep knowledge that many who taught the Bible had acquired and internalized of Chinese traditions and classical texts. It is unsurprising that the earliest professional sinologists were missionaries, the first Professor of Chinese at Oxford James Legge, a nonconformist ex-missionary who had translated everything from the Four Books of the Confucian canon to early poetry and ritual texts.39 The question of reading Christian Scriptures in China opens up a matrix of interpretive problems that have only recently begun to be addressed. The Bible in China is a translated text; it is also a transformed text (in its sinicization of form) and a transposed text (in its new cultural

Reading Christian Scriptures: The Nineteenth-Century Context


and textual milieu). An aspect of the introduction of Christian Scripture to China which has received less attention than it merits is the form in which texts were introduced. The notion that early Protestant congregations had entire bibles (or even entire New Testaments) to hand is misleading, and a great number, possibly a majority of readers, would have come to the Bible through tracts, explanations, stories or primers. The Chinese context of many of these texts is immediately obvious. These titles show that Western missionaries understood Chinese reading traditions well enough to perform their own acts of commentary on the scriptural texts, and were already linking Chinese and Western interpretive practices, either through evaluative comments (pingdian if i£ or pi Jtfc), or as annotations or clarifications (zhu ft, jie ffl, shu Si). They had internalized and reproduced Chinese educational tools to elevate Holy Scriptures to the status oijing and to present them in study form for Chinese readers. The appearance of numerous selected excerpts or explanatory works and tracts show that the Bible was being actively interpreted as it was introduced. It is clear that, taken as a corpus, Western translations both of scripture and of other key church texts such as the Book of Common Prayer, underwent a textual sinicization over the course of the late Qing. Christian texts added colophons, prefaces and reading notes to the title pages. Manuscript-style calligraphy graced the prefaces. The Western missionaries had learned that in order for a text to be read as a Chinese work, its paratextual apparatus had to look Chinese too. Many texts were produced under names immediately recognizable as pseudonyms, in Chinese literatus fashion. Medhurst used 'One who Esteems Virtue' (j«j H # ) ; William Dean used 'One who Enacts Benevolence' ( ^ t # ) and Giitzlaff used 'The One who Loves Chinese' ( H # | # ) for their commentary editions of individual books of the Bible in the 1850s. Nineteenthcentury tracts and liturgical texts adopted interlinear commentary sometimes just to give a scriptural reference for each passage cited drawn from the Chinese books that Christian writers would handle every day in China. These commentary editions raise such questions as whether the 'text and commentary' pattern seen in annotated books of the Bible led in readers' minds to the same reading processes described in traditional texts where 'text and commentary became confused' and where the 'lines dividing commentary from text became even more porous in the reader's memory7.40 This short essay has only been able to assess some of the tract publications in terms of their form and content: the contours of further research into the original question, the reception of biblical texts by Qing readers, await further research. It is clear that denominational and theological biases of writers were interposing between the Bible and its interpretation in these explanatory texts. There can be no simple presentation of the Scripture: even a translation shows through linguistic and cultural biases, and selections of scriptural sentences lifted to show a moral pattern are inevitably culturally conditioned. If the parabiblical texts had as much significance as their numbers, frequent reprints and small cost suggest, then their influence upon developing Chinese theologies has probably been


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underestimated, and we need to look beyond 'the Bible' in the search for the roots of twentieth-century Chinese Protestant theology.

Notes I would like to thank Ryan Dunch for his comments and suggestions on this chapter. 1. See David Helliwell, T w o Collections of Nineteenth-century Protestant Missionary Publications in the Bodleian library7, Chinese Culture, 31.4 (1990): 21-38. The Philadelphia catalogue is thought to have been produced by Alexander Wylie of the British and Foreign Bible Society. 2. Among the best recent English language works: and those which go beyond this remit, are Irene Eber, The Jewish Bishop and the Chinese Bible S.IJ. Schereschewsky (1831-1906) (Leiden: EJ. Brill, 1999); Irene Eber, Sze-kar Wan, Knut Waif (eds), Bible in Modern China. The literary and Intellectual Impact (Nettetal: Sankt Augustin, 1999); Jost Oliver Zetzsche, The Bible in China. The History of the Union Version or The Culmination of Protestant Missionary Bible Translation in China (Nettetal: Sankt Augustin, 1999). 3. Suzanne Barnett and John K. Fairbanks edited volume, Christianity in China: Early Protestant Missionary Writings (Cambridge, MA.: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1985) remains a welcome exception to the general dearth of material. For a recent survey and analysis of tracts, see John Tsz Pang Lai, "The Enterprise of Translating Christian Tracts by Protestant Missionaries in NineteenthCentury China', DPhil. dissertation, Oxford University, 2005 (hereafter "Christian Tracts'). 4. In keeping with the 'paradigm shift' that Nicolas Standaert notes in the field, from a missiological to a sinological approach: see Standaert (ed.), Handbook of Christianity in China Volume One: 635-1800 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2001), p. ix. 5. Prominent among such scholars working on this theme is the Fudan modern literature specialist Yuan Jin, see e.g. his Zhongguo zvenxue de jindai biange (Guilin: Guangxi Normal University Press, 2006). For a discussion on the hermeneutical space that the emergence of modern Chinese language gave to Bible translators in China, see Yang Huilin, The Union Version of the Bible and its Hermeneutical Analysis', Contemporary Chinese Thought, 36.1 (autumn 2004): 85-99. 6. For a survey of Chinese tracts, see Lai, 'Christian Tracts', pp. 143-81. Lai quotes sources suggesting 90 per cent of nineteenth-century Christian publications were translations or abridgements of Western literature (pp. 7-8). Two of the most popular works, and those lauded by other missionaries, were notably original compositions: W.A.P. Martin's Tian dao su yuan [The Origins of the Way of Heaven] (1854) and William Milne's famous Zhang Yuan liangyou xianglun [Discussion among Two Friends, Zhang and Yuan] (1819). See further Lai, 'Christian Tracts', pp. 150-51. 7. For a general text on Chinese imprints and book culture, including discussion of William Milne and Christian text printing, see Joseph P. McDermott, A Social History of the Chinese Book (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2006). 8. Samuel Schereschewsky, Guanhua Chuangshiji [Mandarin Genesis] (Shanghai: Meihua, 1866). The British and Foreign Bible Society directed its missionaries to produce versions devoid of annotations. 9. Walter Henry Medhurst, Luomashu zhujie [Annotated Romans] (Shanghai: Mohai Shuguan, 1857). 10. Lai, 'Christian Tracts', pp. 165-6. 11. Evelyn Rawski has studied Medhursf s Sanzijing and its sequels from the perspective of an educational text, and in the context of missionary debates on educational values and curricula. Her article discusses the problems of a suitable Christian terminology, and of Christian primers teaching fewer characters than Chinese originals. See Evelyn S.

Reading Christian Scriptures: The Nineteenth-Century Context

12. 13.

14. 15.


17. 18. 19.

20. 21.

22. 23.

24. 25.



Rawski, 'Elementary Education in the Mission Enterprise', in Barnett and Fairbank (eds), Christianity in China, pp. 135-51. On W.H. Medhurst and his developing interest in broadening educational teaching as an adaptive response to the Chinese situation, see Jane Kate Leonard,' W.H. Medhurst Rewriting the Missionary Message', in Barnett and Fairbank (eds), Christianity in China, pp. 47-59. E.g. Hong Kong 1843; Shanghai 1851,1856; Peking 1863. Such as S.W. Bonney, Zhenli Sanzijing [True Reason Trimetrical Classic] (Canton, 1860, 1863, 1872). The title of Wilhelm Lobscheid's edition, Medhurst's Trimetrical Classic (Maishi sanzijing) of 1857, reprinted in 1863, tells of the need to distinguish among versions. For a classification of the various trimetrical classics in circulation, see Rawski, 'Elementary Education', p. 146. E.g. Ferdinand Genahr, Xinyue sizijing (Hong Kong: Yinghua Shuyuan, 1863, repr. 1869). Sophia Martin, Xunnu sanzi jing (Singapore, 1832). Martin was W.H. Medhurst's sisterin-law. On this text and other female primers, see Ryan Dunch, 'Christianizing Confucian Didacticism: Protestant Publications for Women, 1831-1911' (forthcoming). "Irtis is called the body this is called the soul these two are clear and explicit the body has substance the soul is without form the body and mind die the soul eternally exists if you do not nourish the body you will not live long if you do not nurture the soul you will bring disaster on yourself/ Many passages tell of the benefits in this life from believing. D.B. McCartee, Sanzijing xinzeng zhujie [New Improved Trimetrical Classic] (Ningbo, 1846). Cf. Yuan Jin, Zhongguo wenxue de jindai biange [Transformation in Modern Chinese Literature] (Guilin: Guangsi shifan daxue, 2006), pp. 69-%. Medhurst, Shengjing shiji [Historical Records of the Bible] (Shanghai: Mohai shuguan, 1846). This wasn't the only such attempt of Medhurst, cf. Lunyu Xinzuan [New Edition of (Confucius') Analects] (Singapore: Jianxia, 1841). John Winn Quarterman, Shengjing Tuji [Illustrated Scriptures] (Ningbo, 1855). John MacGowan, Shengjing chanxiang [Bible Dictionary] (Xiamen, 1873). John Eadie's original, reprinted many times, was entitled A Biblical Cyclopaedia, or, Dictionary of Eastern Antiquities, Geography, natural history, sacred annals and biography, theology and biblical literature, illustrative of the Old and New Testaments (London, 1849). MacGowan, Shengjing chanxiang, preface, lb. The only difference in content here with Dr Eadie's Biblical Cyclopaedia is the omission of discussion of seven as a round number, or perfect number; the form of the two texts is quite different, with the English in alphabetic order, with tiny print on three columns per page. Andrew Patton Happer, Shengshu yanyi [Elaborating the Meaning of Holy Scripture] (Shanghai: Meihua, 1874). On Happer and others' writings on astronomy, and on missionary attempts to incorporate China into a global chronology, see Ryan Dunch, 'Locating China in the World: Space and Time in late Qing Protestant Missionary Texts', unpublished essay. See e.g. W.H. Medhurst, Fuyin dazhi [Great Design of the Gospel] (Hong Kong: Yinghua, 1870); William Aitchison, Shengjing lunliie [Introduction to Study of Bible] (Peking: Meihua, 1870); D.B. McCartee, Yesujiao liyan [Summary of Jesus' Doctrine] (Shanghai:


27. 28. 29.

30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35.

36. 37.


39. 40.

Chloe Starr Meihua, 1874); Jakob Lorcher, Shengjing tigang [Scripture Outline] (Hong Kong: Zhonghua, 1873). John Preston, Jingxne zhinan [Table for Reading the Scriptures] (Canton: EHshipu Fuyintang, 1875). On Giitzlaff, see e.g. Jessie G. Lutz, 'Karl F.A. Giitzlaff: Missionary Entrepreneur' in Barnett and Fairbank (eds), Christianity in China, pp. 61-87. Examples of the former include Alexander Stronach, Fuyin yaoyan [Important Gospel Sayings] (Shanghai Mohai Shuguan, 1853); Rudolf Lechler, Shengjing tiyao [Scripture Quotations] (Hong Kong, 1869). C.F. Preston, Shengshu caijie tiyao [Selections from Scripture on Gambling] (Shanghai: Meihua, 1869). Divie Bethune McCartee, Shengjing leishu [Classified Scripture] (Ningbo: Huahua Shengjing Shufang, 1856), preface lb, 2a. I.e. Fuzhou, Guangdong, Ningbo, Shanghai and Xiamen: areas where missionaries were able to operate legitimately from 1842. The more limited selection of works in the Illustrated Catalogue 1884 has three prayerbooks from the 1870s and 1880s and only four scriptures, from the 1850s and 1860s. Cf. W.D. Maxwell, The Book of Common Prayer and the Worship of the Non-Anglican Church (London: Oxford University Press, 1950), p. 9. Cf. Eber, The Jewish Bishop and the Chinese Bible, p. 165. This trans., Jiaohui daowen, was not Burdon's first printed prayer-book: Wylie lists three precursor texts containing portions of the litany from the 1860s, Memorials of Protestant Missionaries, p. 283. George Piercy and S. Hutton (eds), Qidaowen quanshu, trans. W.H. Medhurst (Canton, 1859). C.J. Warren, trans., Jiaren daowen [Family Prayer Book] (Hong Kong: Shengshitifan libai Tang, 1867). Another of Piercy's translations was aimed at the household: like other missionaries, he produced a rendition of the popular 'The Peep of Day' by Favell Lee Mortimer. Robert Morrison's Horae Sinicae: Translations from the Popular Literature of the Chinese, for example, was printed as early as 1812, A Grammar of the Chinese Language in 1815; and his three-volume dictionary between 1815-23. On missionary contributions to technical dictionaries and the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in China, see Shen Guowei, The Creation of Technical terms in English-Chinese Dictionaries from the Nineteenth Century' in Michael Lackner, Iwo Amelung and Joachim Kurtz (eds), New Terms for New Ideas. Western Knowledge and Lexical China in Late Imperial China (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2001), pp. 287-304; Cf. other articles in the same volume. On Legge, see e.g. Norman J. Giradot, The Victorian Translation of China: James Legge's Oriental Pilgrimage (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002). David L. Rolston, Traditional Chinese Fiction and Fiction Commentary: Reading and Writing Between the Lines (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997), p. 1.

3 Hermeneutical Conflict? Reading the Bible in Contemporary China Fredrik Fallman Christianity was long deemed a 'foreign religion' in China, where foreignness was a negative notion, and the Bible has been a central source of this foreignness. During the last 20 years this notion has changed. Christianity is still a foreign religion to China, but today this epithet has positive connotations and the Bible has become a 'Western Classic', accepted even by the Chinese authorities. The Bible has many connotations in various contexts, and in contemporary China is seen as sacred text, as literature and as a source of ethics, as well as being regarded as superstitious or potentially dangerous material. In October 2004 a newspaper in Shanghai reported that the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission proposed that the Bible should be on the list of recommended extracurricular reading for Middle School students. Parents who were interviewed expressed concern that such an early exposure to religious literature would be 'harmful to their children'.1 This is a good example of the conflicting status of the Bible in China today, especially at various levels within government. News of the recommendation spread quickly abroad through Reuters and other news agencies, but the Education Commission denied in November 2004 the publication of such a list. News of the denial, however, was not transmitted outside China.2 The Bible is still rarely available in ordinary bookstores, only in church-run outlets. However, there are exceptions which bypass this policy. In October 2004 Jiangsu People's Press published a newly translated commentary version of Genesis by Feng Xiang, a literature and law scholar, now a Professor at Harvard but originally from Shanghai. Feng Xiang's work was mostly based on the King James version, and the book was produced as a literary, not religious, text in order to secure publication. Feng Xiang's book is in two parts, the first part forms his retelling of 20 of the Genesis stories, with additional background information and reflection, the second is an actual translation of Genesis, annotated and with traditional verse structure.3 Among other recent Bible publications, the 'Tree of Life' book series [Shengming shu shuxi], produced under the supervision of Wang Hanchuan, is noteworthy. Genesis, the Gospel of John and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress have already been published in the series. Two separate translations of the Apocrypha have also appeared in the PRC during the 1990s.4 Most bookstores across the country, even in remote and predomin49


Fredrik Fdllman

antly Muslim Xinjiang, sell copies of 'Bible stories' either in cartoon form, retold or simplified. The Bible can also be found for sale in some bookstores hidden under the shelf and at a price several times higher than in church outlets. In March 2007 English paperback copies of the King James version were to be found in highly visible spots in the Sanlian bookshop in central Beijing, although shop attendants could not answer questions about the reasons for this sudden display of the Bible. The Quran, Buddhist scriptures and even Christian prayer-books and theological study material are available in bookstores. Why then not the Bible itself? In the 1990s the prestigious Renmin University of China in Beijing (with a strong tradition of Marxist studies) embarked on a project to publish a revised version of the Bible in cooperation with the Jinling Union Theological Seminary in Nanjing, to be sold in ordinary bookstores. In 2002 only final revisions and proofreading remained before the book was to be published at the end of that year. Still nothing has surfaced.5

1. Access to bibles Bible-smuggling to China occurred frequently during the 1980s and the 1990s, but has now been replaced mainly by bibles illegally printed within China. Smuggling and illegal printing present a dilemma for Christians regarding how the Bible is viewed, read and perceived. The same person or print shop agreeing to print bibles may also print other illegal material with which Christians may not want to associate the Bible. Sometimes the printing is done in small print shops in rural townships with a concomitant crude quality, and many wrongly printed characters. The version in most cases, legal or illegal, is the 1919 Union Version, Illegally printed bibles have led to several unregistered church leaders being put in jail. Produced at a certain cost of risk and suffering to the Church, these bibles become more precious to their readers and more worthy of reverence than if purchased in a state bookstore.6 The question arises as to whether there really is a need for illegally printed bibles, when there are several million legally printed bibles produced every year. It is clear that not everyone wanting a Bible is able to secure one. The reasons for this are more difficult to establish. The total number of legally printed bibles between 1988 and March 2007 exceeded 54 million copies, and the number will reach 60 million copies during 2007, according to Amity Press estimates. Out of this number around 600,000 have been Catholic versions of the Bible. Catholic Bibles have also been printed at other facilities, such as the Xinhua Press in Beijing, and the total number of Catholic bibles printed after 1980 is more than two million.7 Sixty million is more than the double the 'official' number of Christians in China, but still the Amity Printing Press in Nanjing pours out more bibles each year.8 Who is reading the Bible in China today? The large numbers of new Christians make up a heterogeneous group, coming from all parts of society. The majority of Christians are still in rural areas, but a recent

Hermeneutical Conflict? Reading the Bible in Contemporary China


survey from East China Normal University indicates that the increase is now focused in the big cities and coastal areas. This trend points to a challenge for the Church, facing seekers with higher education and a different worldview. Among the rural population there are many who would still love to have a Bible - and to be able to read it. Illiteracy is still widespread in China, and rural churches often hold literacy classes with Bible studies added on.9 However, it is not only confessing Christians who read the Bible in China today. Many intellectuals, students and officials read it to understand better the cultural background, ethical foundations and socioeconomic development of the West. Others see it purely as fascinating literature. Students of English often read the King James version, and courses in Bible literature have run at several universities since the 1980s.10 The majority of 'ordinary' lay believers in China are keen Bible readers. The Chinese Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and the China Christian Council (CCC),11 the two official Protestant bodies in China, acknowledge that most Chinese Christians are evangelical and charismatic. According to Bishop Ding Guangxun (K. H. Ting) (1915- ),12 former leader of the TSPM/CCC, Chinese Christians have a tendency towards fundamentalism, due to the legacy of Western missionaries. In 1990 Bishop Ding gave an important introduction to the topic, in an article entitled 'How Chinese Christians View the Bible'. Here Ding claims that a change in Bible view occurred during the 1980s when charismatics and fundamentalists in China began to stress the Bible as 'a wide-open book' where you could 'pick up fresh manna every day'. After the opening-up and reform period (1978-), standpoints on the Bible were legitimately open to change. Bishop Ding even commended the Bible view of 'some fundamentalist co-workers' who see 'an infinite meaning' in scripture, and are open to focus on biblical interpretations for contemporary society. Ding quotes and argues with Paul Ricoeur in this respect: 'the process of a scripture text surpasses the limited field of vision of the original author; its meaning today being much more important than what the original author wanted to say at that time'.13 Ding stresses that the Bible should be read and interpreted under contemporary circumstances, and gives examples and interpretations of four types of biblical texts that would be representative of Chinese readings of the Bible. These four deal with relief and salvation from suffering through God (Ding mentions Mt. 5.11-12), how to know Jesus (Gal. 1.15-17, Heb. 1.3), God's holy love (1 Jn 4.16) and Christian solidarity and brotherhood Qn 17; 1 Cor. 1). Ding's interpretation and discussion of these themes can be seen as his biblical analysis of the Chinese Church in recent decades. From 1949 to 1976 the Church went through many hardships before entering a phase of resurrection. To accommodate the believers and the Church to socialist society Ding stresses God's universal love and Christian brotherhood, extending to non-Christians.14


Fredrik Fallman

2. Ding Guangxun on the Bible Bishop Ding's hermeneutical analysis is the foundation of official TSPM/ CCC publications, and stressing that 'God is love' has become a trademark of Ding and the official Chinese Church. Many Chinese lay believers and pastors adhere to Ding's interpretations, but during the last ten years it has been clear that large numbers also do not. Since 1998 the TSPM/CCC has run a national campaign to Tniild up theological thinking' (shenxue sixiang jianshe)15 with similar characteristics to Ding's analysis. The top priorities of this campaign are 'to stress that faith accords with the Bible', 'pay attention to individual spiritual development' and 'to promote Christian ethics'. One theme in this campaign that has raised special attention abroad is the statement that 'justification by faith should be played down' (danhua yin xin cheng yi). 'Played down' is the official English translation chosen by the TSPM/CCC, but could be rendered 'weakened' or 'diluted'. The Chinese word danhua originally means 'desalinate', and one could interpret this as making the Christian message less of 'salt and light'.16 In the second phase of this campaign from 2003, the emphasis has been to establish 'a correct view of the Bible' (zhengque de shengjingguan). Bishop Ding developed his ideas on this 'correct view' during the period 1990 to 2003, and explained in a report of a meeting in Shanghai in July 2003 what he would like to see for the future of the Church in China. Ding here uses a rather simple argument, exemplifying horrific events and cruel statements from the Old Testament, and claiming that they are evidence of man's interference in the text. Ding argues that there is confusion as to what is really 'God's word' in the Bible, and that one must not confuse the Bible as being wholly from God but only 'inspired by God'. While this is not really controversial as such, but a rather standard demythologized attitude, taking a historical-critical perspective of the biblical text, Ding's focus on 'God is love' leads him to an exposition where texts in the Bible that do not tell the reader that 'God is love' are not 'God's words', and the outcome is a kind of 'justification by love'. The major revelation of the Bible to us is that 'God is love', as in 1 Jn 4.8, and from this Ding wants to change the Chinese Church into something new: 'a Church that conforms with the historical tide and with the needs of the people ... I believe that this Christianity will be welcomed by the Communist Party.'17 Both Ding and Revd Cao Shengjie, current president of CCC, have underlined the need to 'face up' to different views of the Bible. Cao Shengjie stresses the need for an understanding of basic hermeneutical principles to understand the original meaning of the text and lay the foundation for 'correct' expositions for contemporary China. Ding criticizes those believers who hold an extreme reverence for the Bible, likening their stance to worshipping statues of Buddha.18

Hermeneutical Conflict? Reading the Bible in Contemporary China


3. Study and interpretation Chinese culture has its own tradition of Confucian, Buddhist and Daoist scriptural hermeneutics that are rarely drawn on in the contemporary Chinese Christian context. We might ask to what degree this tradition is still alive in contemporary China, and what kind of questions other scriptural traditions pose for interpreting the texts today. What teaching materials for Bible interpretation, Bible analysis and Bible introduction are available in China today? The TSPM/CCC runs 18 theological seminaries around China that all have curricula with heavy emphasis on Bible teaching. Many of the seminaries are in reality Bible schools, and scarcely conform to the ideas of 'building up theological thinking'. There are also a large number of lay training centres with strong emphasis on the Bible, often related to preaching. For the ordinary lay person or nonbeliever there are an increasing number of simplified Bible stories, cartoon Bibles and so on, but also translations of classic devotionals and prayer-books, such as the beautifully illustrated Streams in the Desert [Huang mo gan quan] which was first translated into Chinese before 1949,19 published and sold in all bookstores. Such translations are not done by the Church, but by scholars and publishing houses, and have proved an influential part of the trend of publishing about faith and religion in China. The Church produces relatively little material for 'popular use', only for internal training, and that material is not sold in ordinary bookstores. Most Chinese wanting to know about the Bible thus have to use material produced by secular publishing houses, and the last few years have seen a number of interesting publications. Shengjing biyu [Bible Parables] by Ye Shuxian,20 professor at the Institute for Literature at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, is one example. This book explains and interprets biblical concepts and parables, based partly on translated material. An even more important work is Shengjing daodu [Introduction to the Bible] by Sun Yi from Renmin University, published in a series called Book Series on Humanities and Art Written for the Masses, where other titles deal with topics such as art, design, myths and dance. Sun gives a thorough introduction to the history and context, as well as textual and literary aspects, of the Bible. The Religious Culture Press in Beijing published in 2004 the ambitious Explaining Biblical Culture Book Series in six volumes with two well-known Bible scholars as editors, Liang Gong from Henan University and Lo Lung-kwong (Lu Longguang) from Chung Chi College, Hong Kong. The series contains five volumes of thematically arranged Bible expositions and one volume entitled Bible Explanation with an introduction and overview of biblical study and interpretation. Most of the authors in the series are mainland scholars, which shows the development of academic biblical scholarship in the secular university system of the PRC.21 In 2000 the CCC published a book entitled 'The Modern View of the Bible' [Xiandai Shengjingguan] by Tang Zhongmo. However, this 'modern' book was written in 1936 by Dr Tang, then president of the Central Theological Seminary in Shanghai, the Anglican seminary affiliated with


Fredrik Fallman

St John's University. This is a specific choice for republication that fits the purpose of the campaign for ^building up theology7. It also reflects the background of Bishop Ding in promoting a Bible view and analysis on Anglican grounds, quite far removed from the experience and background of the majority of both lay believers and pastors in contemporary China. Revd Chen Yongtao, teacher at Jinling Union Theological Seminary, has hailed this book as one of the landmarks in 'the evolution of views of the Bible, the church and God in the modern Chinese Church'.22 Tang writes in his foreword to the book:23 Readers of scripture should not be ignorant of the authors' background and origins, for this will result in quoting out of context and distortion of meaning. The Bible should not be seen rigidly as a book of heavenly revelation and the reader should not be a stickler with a stubborn bias for strange expressions. Chen views Tang's book as 'earth-shattering for those with a fundamentalist and evangelical view of the Bible'. Chen uses further strong language in his article, claiming that the doctrine of 'justification by faith' 'tends to lead to Christians exalting themselves and despising others'. This kind of statement undoubtedly further widens the rift between the TSPM/CCC leadership, evangelical groups within the TSPM and unregistered groups outside the TSPM. However, Chen also affirms the Bible as authority in matters of faith: 'theological adjustment should be carried out on the condition that it is based on and honours the Bible, and does not run counter to or change basic faith'.24 The TSPM/CCC Council for Rural Work has produced a small series of books for volunteer training of five tracts. One of them contains '18 points for explaining the Bible'.25 This book was published in 1996 and is based on a correspondence-course publication, Shijingxue [Hermeneutics], from 1993, published by the Far East Broadcasting Centre in Taiwan. The acknowledgement of this comes in very small print at the last page of booklet. It is somewhat surprising that such a central tool as basic hermeneutics for the rural churches is taken from a Taiwanese evangelical organization, undoubtedly critical of the TSPM/ CCC system. This Taiwan-based organization is closely related to 'Brother David' (code-name for Doug Sutphen, 1936-2007), one of the foremost bible smugglers to China in the 1970s and 1980s.2 Among the 18 points in the tract are the need for a basic understanding of why one must interpret the Bible, and the need to do thorough exegesis to reach a full understanding of the writer's original context. The principles also include the need for prayer and spiritual guidance in interpretation, as well as avoiding use of the biblical message for private or political purposes. One of the 18 principles is particularly surprising for the Western reader, but explained by the rural uneducated Chinese context. The clause explains that one must not interpret the biblical text based on the meaning of individual Chinese characters, since the Bible was not originally written in Chinese. This final clause is aimed at preachers - or publications - that aim to interpret the biblical message

Hermeneutical Conflict? Reading the Bible in Contemporary China


through Chinese characters, and see divine inspiration in how the individual characters are formed. Such attempts come close to folk religious traditions and beliefs in the power of the text and the characters themselves.27 Other widely available publications with a biblical focus include magazines and journals. Besides the national monthly Protestant magazine Tianfeng [The Heavenly Wind], there are also local magazines published by provincial Christian councils, and not available for international subscription. One of the more widespread is The Dew [Ganlu], published by Zhongnan Theological Seminary in Wuhan, claiming to be 'the magazine of the Protestant churches of Zhongnan area, China'. This particular magazine reaches beyond the six provinces of the Zhongnan area to Beijing and the northeast of China, since the seminary attracts students from all over China, and has a nationwide reputation for its open atmosphere.28 During 2004-5 the magazine ran a series of articles on biblical studies and interpretation, which formed a basic course for Bible readers. This series shows a local attempt at being part of the national campaign for Imilding-up theology'. The articles had themes such as 'Culture and Hermeneutics', 'Prophecies, Parables and Miracles' and 'Christian Exegesis', with a different tone and focus to Tianfeng material. In the first sentence of an article entitled 'The Proper Qualifications of an Exegete', the author Bao Luo, 'Paul', says: 'Only a saved and born-again person can fully understand the Bible.' This is quite contrary to the ideas of the campaign for 'building-up theological thinking', and shows the disparity also within the TSPM/CCC when it comes to Bible teaching and interpretation.29 The recent campaign and the directives from the TSPM/CCC may have had a reverse effect to the one intended. One of the original goals for the campaign was to root out sectarian tendencies, primarily in the rural churches, and to establish a modern church, 'with the times', adhering to and promoting the development of a socialist society. Acting against sectarian tendencies is a well-founded fear, and promoting the 'correct Bible view' has validity in a country where heresies and misinterpretations occur frequently. However, it is also obvious that many unregistered churches have seen this campaign as yet further proof of government interference in the TSPM/CCC.

4. Unregistered Church views on the Bible The unregistered Church in China is a multifaceted movement and it is difficult to give a unified picture of its Bible views. Attitudes towards the Bible are generally rather fundamentalist, just as with many believers in CCC congregations. On the periphery of the house churches new sects are sometimes formed. China has a thousand-year long tradition of sectarian movements,30 and this is one reason why Chinese authorities are suspicious of unregistered religious groups in general, and millenarian Christian ones in particular. Strong belief in the Bible and its power does not necessarily involve reading and thorough study but


Fredrik Fdilman

may have fetishist tendencies, when the Bible as a Holy Book is believed to assist in miraculous events. 'Brother Yun' (Liu Zhenying), one of the best-known unregistered Christian leaders (at least in the West), has explained how he once was simply walking along a countryside road, chanting Bible verses, when he suddenly travelled a great distance in an instant. He has likened this experience with that of Philip in Acts 8.39-40. Brother Yun is now living in Germany, but during his life in China he experienced many miraculous events, often accompanied by Bible chanting or by messages from the Bible.31 The many different unregistered Christian groups often organize 'secret' Bible classes and leadership training, and a central part of Bible classes is to memorize sections or whole books of the Bible. Just as with the Four Books and other classical texts of the Confucian and Daoist canon in earlier times, there is a tradition in China of memorizing long parts of the Bible. This had an upsurge during the 1950s and the Cultural Revolution, when it was a useful way of keeping faith alive. At that time and into the 1970s, bibles were also hand-copied for spreading the word, and the rarity of copies increased their symbolical value. This idea of memorizing the Bible, or other books, is not just a feature of the unregistered Church, but in that context it conveys a certain view of the Bible. A majority of believers in these groups would adhere to the view that the whole Bible is 'God's Word', and that any exposition of the Bible must be done through the work of the Holy Spirit. Every word in the Bible is thus important and memorizing will assist in keeping one's thoughts on the right track.32 Some of the unregistered groups receive support from abroad, mostly from fellow Chinese Christians in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and the USA. One major actor in the field of Bible-teaching has been China Ministries International (CMI), based in Taiwan and headed for many years by Jonathan Chao (193&-2004), an evangelical pastor and scholar. CMI has published a handbook for Christian lay leaders in the mainland, a 'Handbook for Training Church Workers' \Jiaohui gongren peixun shouce IS&XAi&M^M]. First published in 1995, this is an ambitious work, spanning over 1,300 pages in small print on thin 'Bible paper'. A thorough overview of Christian teaching, it includes Bible view, interpretation, doctrines of the Church, and church history. In the Handbook there is a hundred-page section entitled 'Hermeneutics' where themes such as 'The Holy Spirit in Exegesis', 'The Importance of Revelation' and 'History and Culture in Exegesis' are explained. Special emphasis is laid on the importance of understanding the historical setting of the original text and the attitude of the original author, in order to explain fully the biblical truth in the contemporary setting of the reader. The Handbook gives a serious and thorough teaching of biblical interpretation, close to the one expressed, for example, in The Dew, and one which can be found in many TSPM/CCC congregations. That the CMI has made an impact on the mainland, has been confirmed, unwillingly, by TSPM leaders. TSPM chairman Presbyter Ji Jianhong has criticized Chao for his attitude to the TSPM, but also acknowledged that 'Chao's influence on the believers is very strong'.33

Hermeneutical Conflict? Reading the Bible in Contemporary China


Several of the larger unregistered Christian groups in China made a public declaration of faith in 1998, which included their view of the Bible. The first paragraph of their statement reads: We believe the sixty-six books of the Bible to be inspired of God and that they were written by the prophets and apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is the complete truth and without error; it will allow no one to change it in any manner. The Bible clearly describes God's plan of redemption for man. The Bible is the highest standard of our faith, life, and service. We are opposed to all those who deny the Bible [as the Word of God]; we are opposed to the view that the Bible is out of date; we are opposed to the view that the Bible has error; and we are opposed to those who believe only in selected sections of the Bible. We want to emphasize that the Scriptures must be interpreted in light of their historical context and within the overall context of Scriptural teachings. In seeking to understand Scripture, one must seek the leading of the Holy Spirit and follow the principle of interpreting Scripture by Scripture, and not taking anything out of context. In interpreting Scripture, one ought to consult the traditions of orthodox belief left by the church throughout her history. We are opposed to interpreting Scripture by one's own will, or by subjective spiritualization.34 This statement and view of the Bible could probably be agreed upon by a majority of Christians in China, regardless of their belonging to a registered or unregistered church. The most marked difference with the official TSPM/CCC view is the line about 'complete and inerrant truth' and the lines with 'opposed to'. The brief guidelines for interpretation do not differ substantially from TSPM/CCC criteria. One might say that there is an equal eagerness to establish 'a correct Bible view' in these groups as there is in the TSPM/CCC, albeit on quite different grounds. The unwillingness to accept individual interpretational freedom is similar. The TSPM wants to obtain interpretational authority for themselves, whereas house-church leaders claim to point to higher spiritual authority. These house-church leaders also assume that they have the moral standard to hold up the 'inerrant truth'.

5. Intellectuals and the Bible In the conflict of power, legitimacy and authority between registered and unregistered churches, Chinese intellectuals have taken their own path for investigating faith and the Bible. A small group of so-called Cultural Christians (wenhua jidutu)35 have devoted their whole lives and careers to theology and Christian ethics. A minority of them are openly believers, some keep their faith secret in order to safeguard their faculty positions, while others are simply not believers. Intellectual Christians tend to be very free in their Bible readings, and mostly focus on other theological or analytical works, rather than the Bible itself.


Fredrik Ffflman

The epithet Cultural Christian has been used by outsiders trying to distinguish themselves from the phenomenon. This phenomenon of intellectuals taking an interest in Christianity is not coherent or structured, but may be divided into several layers or circles. In my earlier analysis I distinguished four circles: (1) scholars studying Christianity from a purely academic viewpoint, without faith, trying to keep a neutral position towards the Church; (2) scholars sympathetic to Christianity but not openly confessing faith and not associating with churches; (3) scholars openly professing faith but not attending church and not being baptized; (4) a small number of scholars who are baptized and regularly attend church. The first circle is the largest, and also the second is growing today. The third circle is the one closest to the original idea of Cultural Christians.36 Liu Xiaofeng (1956-) is the best-known of the Cultural Christians, and he is also a baptized believer. In his youth in the 1970s Liu started his investigation into Christian faith through the literature of Dostoevsky, and also read the works of Shestov, Scheler, Pascal and Kierkegaard. Only later did he start reading the Bible. Liu's critics have claimed that he was 'unorthodox', not having read the Bible, 'the source', first. Liu has discarded this criticism, and argues that any person's spiritual journey and reading of the Bible starts in private experiences or presupposed ideas. His reading of other texts is not in conflict with his Bible reading, but merely a complement and a preparation. Liu does not quote the Bible very frequently in his writings, and holds a respectful but free attitude to the texts. His focus is on faith, on God's love and the beauty and importance of the Christian message, not primarily on tradition or textual reverence. In the 1980s, when Liu and a few other Cultural Christians started to speak and write openly about their faith, they even dissociated themselves from churches, ritual and baptism. Several of them have since changed this attitude and have been baptized and sometimes attend church services.37 Through his early readings Liu reached 'a new standpoint for values Christian faith'. That is the crucial point for Liu Xiaofeng, not the question of how it came about, if it was through Bible reading or not. This statement also shows the core of the whole Cultural Christian phenomenon, and its duality. For Liu and his generation the Bible is not primarily a daily source of spiritual comfort, but a foundation for their spiritual journey. There is a threefold tension between Cultural Christian acceptance of faith, their acceptance of biblical authority and their scholarly freedom. In his best-known works Salvation and Easy Wandering and Towards the Truth on the Cross, Liu Xiaofeng introduces his own selection of Christian theology to Chinese readers, and compares Western and Christian culture and philosophy with Chinese cultural and philosophical traditions. Liu has taken the Christian notion of 'salvation' (zhengjiu M$k) to represent Western tradition, and the Daoist expression of 'free and easy wandering' (xiaoyao MM)39 to represent Chinese tradition. In his analysis, Chinese scholars have neglected the Christian spiritual foundation of Western modern society, and Western modern society has also tended to disregard this heritage. Liu Xiaofeng wants a

Hermeneutical Conflict? Reading the Bible in Contemporary China


pluralistic modern China where Christianity can play an equal role in public discourse, and where Christian ethics can be the foundation of values in society.40 The choice of Liu Xiaofeng and other scholars to follow the path of theology and Christian studies was a strong statement against the prevailing atheist ideology, and also against the ruling party. Liu Xiaofeng is the best-known name in the Cultural Christian phenomenon, and his books have sold in very large numbers as scholarly works. The small group of influential people that constitute the core of the Cultural Christian phenomenon has contributed greatly to making theology and biblical studies a legitimate part of Chinese academia again. There are now centres and departments for Christian and religious studies at the most prestigious universities in China, including Peking University, Tsinghua University and Renmin University in Beijing, Fudan University in Shanghai, Central China Normal University and Wuhan University in Wuhan and Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. These intellectuals share a common interest in Christianity, but their research is diverse, stretching from Christian-Confucian dialogue to Old Testament studies and further to political philosophy. Some are involved in textual studies, and Yang Huilin (1954- ) at Renmin University has written what he claims to be the first academic work on theological hermeneutics in contemporary China, Sheng yan ren yan - shenxue quanshixne [Holy Word Human Word - Theological Hermeneutics].41 Yang Huilin has a background in comparative literature studies, and presents a thorough introduction to the hermeneutical tradition and some well-known theologians. He analyses a number of Western scholars and adds his own comments and suggestions for the Chinese context. Yang is critical of many contextualization efforts in China. He points out that a contextualized Christian message in the form of an ethicized interpretation with Confucian roots is no different from the ethics and beliefs of a non-Christian. It has lost the 'otherness' which is what people are seeking. Yang Huilin has been involved together with Liu Xiaofeng, He Guanghu (1950-, also at Renmin University) and several other scholars from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan in discussing and developing 'Sino-theology' (hanyu shenxue $Hin#^). The expression actually means 'theology in Chinese language', and there has been a continuous discussion about its content since the issue was raised in the early 1990s. One could see 'Sino-theology7 as the sociopolitical implication of the Cultural Christian phenomenon, in the way that it provides a structured pattern for Christian thinking in the Chinese language context Several volumes have been published which analyse its meaning, but there is not yet a clear definition. In the debate, He Guanghu has stressed the universality of the Christian message but also the need for 'mother-tongue theology', as a contrast and complement to 'indigenous theology' or 'contextualized theology'. Liu Xiaofeng has discussed the need for a 'new field of vision', to break free from 'missionary patterns' and avoid Christian division. He also connects 'Sino-theology' to the issue of modernity, and it seems quite clear that


Fredrik Fallman

'Sino-theology' is an ongoing process, a mode of thinking, rather than a fixed idea.

6. A new generation Younger Christian intellectuals are often much inspired by Liu Xiaofeng and his generation of Cultural Christians, but state their Christian identity more openly. They simply see themselves as Christians, albeit with higher education, or as involved in literature, film or art. In recent years there has been a new development of house-church meetings with academics, artists, writers and artists attending. One well-known example is 'The Ark Church' (Fangzhou jiaohui Jj&WLiU) in Beijing, where writers Yu Jie (1973- ) and Bei Cun (1965- ) were among the initiators. In the 1980s and 1990s the Cultural Christians made a point of not associating with the Church, not taking part in church rituals or associating with Christian fellowships. Now 'The Ark Church' is representative of a new kind of Christian community in China, a more evangelical but still intellectual group. Their style of worship is similar to a CCC congregation, but with longer and more intense prayer sessions.43 'The Ark' and other similar groups or individuals are noted for their political ambitions and their taking part in public discourse, albeit mostly on web-pages ready to be closed any minute by the authorities. 'The Ark Church' started publishing its own magazine in late 2005, also named 'The Ark' [Fangzhou], a name changed to 'Olive-branch' [Ganlanzhi fflj$t |£] with the third issue in 2006. This magazine is not officially registered, but is seen by the editors as 'a gift to family and friends', which is also printed on the back of each issue. In the foreword to the first issue, the magazine is said to be 'a large-scale cultural magazine with Christian faith as its foundation'. The editors argue that Chinese Christians have neglected writing, literature, music and academic studies, and that there have been no great novels with Christian themes as in Russia, or no Christian music like Bach. The magazine wants to be 'a servant of the Church' for a greater cultural development in Chinese Christianity.44 The magazine contains private testimonies, prayers, poems, but also more political articles, such as 'The Covenant and Principles of Constitutional Government' by Wang Yi (1973- ).45 Wang Yi is a wellknown debater, writer and law scholar, teaching at Chengdu University in Sichuan. In every issue of 'Olive-branch' there are articles about government repression of Christians, and analyses of religious policy and regulations. 'The Ark Church' and other similar groups have been active in the developing 'protection of rights' movement (weiquan yundong WBMW)), and in promoting religious rights and freedoms. The Bible is frequently mentioned in 'The Ark', and it has a more central position for these young intellectual Christians than for the earlier generation of Cultural Christians. Someone with the pen-name 'Yage' (James or Jacob) wrote on a new Bible translation project in 'The Ark' in 2005, connected with 'The Chinese Standard Version Bible Society' [Zhongwen biaozhunban Shengjing xiehui]. This seems to be yet another

Hermeneutical Conflict? Reading the Bible in Contemporary China


new translation, with a group of around 15 translators. The writer argues for a new translation to overcome the deficiencies of the older ones, and given the development of the Chinese language. The aim is to make a translation in everyday language, close to spoken language as to facilitate understanding by everyone. The translators believe in the authority of the whole Bible, as revealed by God and without fault. As translation is progressing each Bible book will be published separately for test reading among church leaders and believers. Although it will be a copyright translation, the translation team will make it possible freely to reprint and transmit the text electronically 'for the glory and blessing of the Chinese people'.46 In most universities across China there are Christian student groups, sometimes well organized with larger meetings and Bible study groups, and sometimes just small groups meeting in a dormitory. One group with a larger following is called 'Timothy's Family' (Timotai zhi jia), which formed in 2001. In the last few years both internal and external conflicts have impacted on their activities, and they have also come under pressure from the authorities. In several places, however, they have an agreement with the local CCC congregation. Sometimes members take an active part in local services, but often just use church facilities and in that way receive certain legitimacy. They are very active in evangelizing among students, and have a very strong commitment for evangelization and also for mission outside China. Group leaders are often students or university lecturers who have been abroad for postgraduate studies, and had some formal or informal theological training.47 The Bible also plays an important role for these groups, which for many are the first experience to share their faith and their Bible readings with fellow believers. The expressions of worship in these groups are more charismatic than in most CCC congregations, and Bible study and biblical guidance in private and daily life is essential for the young group members.

7. The government and the Bible In contemporary China, even government officials read the Bible, although Communist Party members may not profess faith. This does not bar individual officials and party members from reading the Bible, and local TSPM/CCC representatives often give away bibles to local officials and invite them to take part in services. In spring 2006 the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) sponsored a Bible Work Exhibition in the USA. This was organized by the TSPM/CCC and had a motto taken from Ps. 119.105 '[Your word is] a lamp to my feet and a light to my path/ The SARA Director, Mr Ye Xiaowen, spoke the following remarkable words at the opening ceremony of the exhibition: 'The Bible is the message from God, but it has many different versions and is available in many different languages. The Church, also, is one


Fredrik Fallman

part of God, but it works in different ways and has different kinds of organization/48 Ye Xiaowen holds the rank of vice-minister and is also an alternate member of the CPC central committee. Calling the Bible 'the message from God7 would not have been necessary for him as an official, and only a few years ago no Chinese official would have used such words about the Bible and Christianity in a public speech. Even though this speech is official propaganda, giving a positive picture of the religious situation in China, it is still surprising. Ye Xiaowen has been outspoken on several occasions. At the death of Fu Tieshan, Catholic bishop of Beijing and chairman of the Catholic Patriotic Association, in April 2007, Ye Xiaowen published an obituary of Bishop Fu on the front page of the People's Daily [Renmin ribao], the main Communist Party newspaper. Ye Xiaowen quoted from 2 Tim. 4.7-8 to describe Bishop Fu's life and achievements: 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing/ 49 This is quite possibly the first instance that a biblical quotation has appeared on the front page of the People's Daily. Ye's use of biblical quotations, and his seemingly respectful attitude to the Bible is difficult to interpret. In contrast to these positive statements Ye and SARA harshly criticize non-registered church activities, the unauthorized spread of bibles, and even some actions of the registered churches. In 2005 Mr Ye said the following: Objectively, religion is a Western anti-Chinese force carrying out Westernization and splitting China, but one cannot say that if religious persons 'are not of our kind, they have a different heart'. One cannot simply equal religious issues as infiltration and an enemy situation. The Chinese policy of freedom of religious belief is realistic, and not at all persecuting religious believers. This shows the complexity of the issue of the Bible and of faith in contemporary China. SARA is currently focusing effort into research on Christianity and the Bible, and promoting scholars from within and outside its own ranks. Each year the best students from universities around China apply to work at SARA, or are handpicked, and lay the foundation for understanding and policy-making of the government.

Conclusion One of the main issues of Bible interpretation in China is who has the right to comment and interpret. There is also the very important question of legitimacy for the Chinese Church. A strong schism between the unregistered and the registered over Bible interpretation and leadership issues has persisted since the 1950s. However, this has widened since the campaign of 'building up theological thinking' started in 1998. This conflict has had devastating effects in a country with huge need for

Hermeneutical Conflict? Reading the Bible in Contemporary China


biblical and theological teaching. As mentioned above, many new Chinese Christians have no Bible and lay preachers often lack a solid foundation, with merely a few weeks, at best months, of basic training. At the other end of the scale there is a need for Bible teaching of another kind. Intellectuals outside the Church represent the most interesting theological contextualization attempts, and have been determinedly putting the Christian message to use in contemporary society as a foundation for a new China. Something new is emerging from the younger generation Christian intellectuals who have analytical capability as well as linguistic and literary knowledge - and a living faith sustained by frequent Bible reading in daily life. Non-Christian readings of the Bible are also extremely interesting, and here we may connect to the translation of Genesis by Feng Xiang, both a new translation and a commentary on the text. The Bible is more and more becoming a text that anyone can read in China, and anyone can interpret. Here is perhaps the most challenging hermeneutical conflict or tension. There are at least four discernible groups with differing biblical traditions, interpretations and reading patterns identified in this essay. Two are in a mainstream Church setting (TSPM/CCC and the unregistered groups), while the other two are in the intellectual sphere. These overlap in many settings and on many occasions, and analysis by vaguely defined group may not be helpful. Neither section of the Church has the authority for the curious reader who may have a modern intellectual and individual perception of faith. For the Church this is also an ecclesiological challenge since it has to redefine its basic standpoint, which is what we are seeing with the 'building-up of theological thinking' movement, but also with the attempts at unification and cooperation in the unregistered movement. Making the Bible readily available in bookshops, combined with a joint effort by Church and intellectuals for sound and analytical biblical teaching, would be a logical solution to the hermeneutical conflicts of Bible readers in China.

Notes 1. Rachel Yan, 'Schools Suggest the Bible', Shanghai Daily, 19 October 2004; 1. 2. The Shanghai Municipal Education Commission denied the existence of such a list with recommended readings in direct reply to a question at the Commission webpage 24 November 2004. See http://web.arcWve.Org/web/20041124221346/http://www.shmec. (accessed 27 April 2007). 3. Feng Xiang, Chuangshiji: chuanshuo yu yizhu [Genesis: Legend with Translation and Annotation] (Nanjing: Jiangsu renmin, 2004). 4. Wang Hanchuan (trans.), Shengming zhiguang: Yuehan fuyin jianshang zhinan [The light of Life: Appreciation and Guidance to the Gospel of John] (Beijing: Qunyan Press 2005); Zhao Peilin, Zhang Diao, Yin Yao (trans.), Shengjing djing [Apocrypha] (Changchun: Shidai wenyi, 1995); Zhang Jiuxuan (trans.), Shengjing houdian [Apocrypha], Zongjiao wenhua congshu [Religious Culture Series]; (Beijing: Shangwu, 1999). Catholic bibles printed in China also contain the Apocrypha.


Fredrik FdUtnan

5. Available in all bookstores, this version should have given a much wider audience the possibility of their own interpretation of the Bible. Monika Ganssbauer, 'Bibeliiersetzung fur den freien Buchmarkt geplant', in Aktuelle China-Nachrichten, 53, 14 January 2002 (Hamburg: China InfoStelle, 2002); private communication with Yang Huilin, 21 January 2002. 6. Yan Xin, 'Zai tan jidujiao yu "Shengjing" zai Zhongguo' [Discussing again Christianity and the Bible in China], (accessed 23 August 2006). 7. Nanjing Amity Printing Co., 'Bible Printing', englishweb/bibles.htm (accessed 30 April 2007); John Baptist Zhang Shijiang 'Dangdai Zhongguo jiaohui de Shengjing tuiguang yu fuchuan' [The Promotion of the Bible in Contemporary China and Evangelization], Tripod, 27 (2007): 144. 8. A recent research survey from East China Normal University gives even higher numbers of religious believers, with a total of 300 million, including 40 million Protestants: Amity News Service, 'Church Statistics', php?page=1230 (accessed 24 August 2006); Wu Jiao, 'Religious Believers Thrice the Estimate', in China Daily, 7 February 20071. It is impossible to give accurate figures for the total number of Christians in China, and the official organizations acknowledge the lack of reliable statistics. See further Tony Lambert, 'Counting Christians in China: A Cautionary Report', International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 27.1 (2003): pp. 6-10. 9. Wu Jiao; 'Shifting Believers', Amity News Service, 16: 1-3.3 (Hong Kong: Amity Foundation, 2007). 10. Bishop Ding Guangxun's wife, Professor Guo Xiumei (Kuo Siu-may) led such a course called 'The Bible as literature' at Nanjing University in the late 1980s. This and other courses had a definite impact on the students for their later choices in life, not necessarily becoming Christians, but actively supporting voluntary and NGO work and adopting Christian ethics. 'Discovering Amity' (based on an interview with Zhuang Ailing by Ewing W. Carroll, Jr), in Amity Newsletter, 53.2 (2000). For more on Guo Xiumei and her Bible scholarship see Kuo Siu-may, 'An Excursion into the English Bible' in China Notes, 20.4 (1982), National Council of Churches of USA, or Guo Xiumei, Shengjing qianxi [Venturing into the Bible] (Nanjing: Najing daxue, 1989). 11. The Chinese Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) was founded in 1950 and is led by a national committee. After the abolishment of Protestant denominations in 1958 the TSPM was the only recognized Protestant organization in the PRC. After the Cultural Revolution the TSPM was allowed to function again, but the Third National Christian Conference held in Nanjing in 1980 also decided to establish a parallel organ, the China Christian Council (CCC), with the CCC taking on the role of a church body while the TSPM takes care of administration and religious policy. 12. Bishop Ding Guangxun (K.H. Ting), born in Shanghai in 1915, has been the main Protestant leader in China after the Cultural Revolution. Ding became president of Jinling Union Theological Seminary in Nanjing in 1953, a post which he held until 2006/7. He was elected a national committee member of the TSPM in 1954, and he was both TSPM chair and CCC president 1980-97. In 1989 he was elected vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. 13. Ding Guangxun, Ding Guangxun wenji [Collected Works of Ding Guangxun] (Nanjing: Yilin, 1998), pp. 77-9. 14. Ding Guangxun, Ding Guangxun wenji, pp. 78-89. 15. The official TSPM/CCC translation of shenxue sixiang jianshe is 'reconstruction of theological thinking', jianshe may well be translated 'to reconstruct', but this implies that there was something to be reconstructed. In the case of TSPM/CCC or even 'the Chinese Church' in its widest sense there is not much to build on if the idea is to found theology in Chinese cultural roots or in indigenous Chinese Church tradition. In my

Hermeneutical Conflict? Reading the Bible in Contemporary China


17. 18. 19. 20. 21.

22. 23. 24. 25. 26.



29. 30.

31. 32.


opinion building up' has a more positive and forward-looking approach for building a modern contextualized theology for contemporary Chinese 'socialist society'. Deng Fucun, 'Zhongguo jidujiao shenxue sixiang jianshe de xianshi yiyi' [The Actual Significance of the Building-up of Theological Thinking in Chinese Christianity] Zhongguo zongjiao [China Religion], 3 (2002). Ding Guangxun, 'Shenxue sixiang jianshe jinru yi ge xin jieduan' [The Building-up of Theological Thinking Enters a New Stage], Tianfeng, 9 (2003): 4-7. Ding Guangxun, 'Shenxue sixiang jianshe', pp. 22-3. Mrs Charles E. Cowman, Huang mo gan quan [Streams in the Desert], trans. Yang Dong and Xin Shu (Xi'an: Shaanxi shifan daxue, 2004). Ye Shuxian, Shengjing biyu [Bible Parables] (Guilin: Guangxi shifan daxue, 2003). Sun Yi, Shengjing daodu [Introduction to the Bible] (Beijing: Zhongguo renmin daxue, 2005); Liu Guangyao and Sun Shanling, Si fuyinshu jiedu [Explanation of the Four Gospels] (Beijing: Zongjiao wenhua, 2004). Chen Yongtao Interpreting Christian Faith in Our Own Time and Context', Chinese Theological Review, 19 (2004): 1-18. Tang Zhongmo, Xiandai Shengjingguan [The Modern View of the Bible], (Shanghai: Zhongguo jidujiao xiehui 2000), zixu [author's preface]. Chen Yongtao, 'Interpreting Christian Faith'. Yu Cheng, Nongcun shiyong jiangdaofa [Practical Rural Preaching Methods] (Nanjing: Zhongguo jidujiao xiehui, 1996), pp. 92-144. 'Brother David' was behind 'Project Pearl' in 1981 when one million bibles were sent by boat to China. See David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power (Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2006), pp. 268-73. Yu Cheng, Nongcun shiyong jiangdaofa; There are a number of publications claiming to show the link between Chinese characters, the Bible and Christian faith. Among the more well-known writers are Ethel R. Nelson, God's Promise to the Chinese, with Richard E. Broadberry and Ginger Tong Chock (Dunlap, Tn: Read Books 1997). This book has been printed in the PRC as Gutou li de gushi, trans. Zhou Jiang (Hailaer: Nei Menggu wenhua, 2005). There have also been a few Chinese academic articles published on similar topics, e.g. Hu Zhendong, 'China kaoyuan yu Shengjing yuyan zhong de Zhongguo' [A Probe into the Origin of the Word China and China in the Prophecy of the Bible], in Hunan keji xueyuan xuebao [Journal of Hunan University of Science and Engineering] 26.2 (2005): 107-8. Ganlu [The Dew], published by Zhongnan Theological Seminary, editor-in-chief Wang Zhenren, 1.46 (2005). The author of this essay is well acquainted with the Church in Hubei province, and has visited the area frequently since 1995. Bao Luo, 'Wenhua yu shijing' [Culture and Hermeneutics], Ganlu, 39-40 (continued in Ganlu, 2. 40-43 (2005); Bao Luo, Ganlu, 4.45 (2004): 35-6. Among the more better-known sectarian movements is the Taiping rebellion 1850-64, an uprising with Christian overtones led by Hong Xiuquan (1814-64), who saw himself as younger brother of Jesus. A contemporary example is the 'Eastern Lightning' sect (Dongfang shandian), emerging around 1990, and claiming that a female Christ is living in Henan, giving a new, extra-biblcal message. This group has worked aggressively, trying to convert both Protestants and Catholics in China. See also Jonathan Chao, Zhenli yiduan zhen wei bian - toushi dalu jiaohui yiduan wenti [Discerning Truth from Heresies - Perspectives on the Issue of Heresies in the Mainland Church] (Taibei: China Ministries International, 2000). Brother Yun with Paul Hattaway, The Heavenly Man (London: Monarch Books, 2002), pp. 38-9. Brother Yun, The Heavenly Man, pp. 220-1; Aikman, Jesus in Beijing pp. 119-29; Tony


33. 34.


36. 37.

38. 39.

40. 41.


43. 44. 45. 46. 47.


Fredrik Fdilman Lambert, China's Christian Millions: The Costly Revival (London: Monarch Books, 1999), pp. 38-41. Jiaohui gongren peixun shouce [Handbook for Training Church Workers] (Taipei: CMI, 1996), pp. 1-2, 217-27; Aikman, Jesus in Beijing, p. 280. 'Confession of Faith of Chinese House Churches', in Aikman, Jesus in Beijing, Appendix B, pp. 313-25 (trans. Jonathan Chao). The original Chinese text can be found in Daolu jikan [The Way], 1, Zhongguo jiating jiaohui [China House Church]. This term is debated and can have many connotations. Some claim that Bishop Ding Guangxun first coined the term in the Chinese context. There have also been other names for the phenomenon, such as 'China's Apollos' and 'Anonymous Christians'. I have still chosen to use the term here for convenience. For a discussion and analysis on the term see Fredrik Fallman, Salvation and Modernity: Intellectuals and Faith in Contemporary China, Chinese Culture Series 2 (Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2004), pp. 38-43. Fallman, Salvation and Modernity, pp. 43-8. Liu Xiaofeng, Zhengjiu yu xiaoyao ('Delivering and Dallying' is the translation given on the cover of this edition, but the title is better known as 'Salvation and Easy Wandering') (Shanghai: Shanghai Sanlian, 2001, rev. edn), qianyan [foreword], pp. 1-10; Liu Xiaofeng, Zou xiang shizijia shang de zhen [Towards the Truth on the Cross] (Shanghai: Shanghai Sanlian, 1995), pp. 124-7. Liu Xiaofeng, Zou xiang shizijia shang de zhen, pp. 124r-7. 'Free and easy wandering' is an approximate translation of the Daoist term xiaoyao MM, which can be found in the Daoist classic Zhuangzi. The term describes the highest state of spiritual freedom. Fallman, Salvation and Modernity, pp. 55-61. Yang Huilin, Shengyan renyan - shenxue quanshixue [Holy Word Human Word Theological Hermeneutics] (Shanghai: Shanghai yiwen, 2002). See also Yang Huilin, Christianity in China: The Work of Yang Huilin (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2004) - special issue of Contemporary Chinese Thought, 36.1 (2004). Fallman, Salvation and Modernity, pp. 110-13; Liu Xiaofeng, Hanyu shenxue yu lishi zhexue [Sino-Christian Theology and Philosophy of History] (Hong Kong: Institute of SinoChristian Studies, 2000), pp. 3-6; He Guanghu 'Hanyu shenxue de genju yu yiyi' [The Foundation and Meaning of Sino-Theology] in Daniel Yeung (ed.), Hanyu shenxue chuyi [Preliminary Studies on Chinese Theology] (Hong Kong: Institute of Sino-Christian Studies, 2000), pp. 23-37. Aikman, Jesus in Beijing, pp. 306-9. The author has met Yu Jie on a number of occasions in 2000 and 2007, and also participated in services with the Ark Church. 'Fa kan ci', publication foreword Fangzhou [The Ark], 1 (2005), front cover (no printing or publication information given). Wang Yi, 'Shengyue yu xianzheng zhuyi [The Covenant and Principles of Constitutional Government] Fanzghou, 2 (2006): 97-101. Yage, 'Youguan Shengjing de zhongwen fanyi' [On the Chinese Translation of the Bible], Fangzhou 1 (2005): 48-52. I have met and worshipped together with 'Timothy' groups during 2003-6 on visits to several cities and universities in one central Chinese province. No published written material is available on this particular group, but until recently the group had a webpage at See also the brief account 'Our Timothy7, Women de Timotai at (accessed 26 April 2007). Ye Xiaowen, 'Ye Xiaowen juzhang zai Yatelanda shengjingzhan kaimushi shang de zhici' [Address of Director Ye Xiaowen at the Opening Ceremony of the Bible Exhibition in Atlanta], State Administration for Religious Affairs of PRC ( xwzx/xwfb/0d8814a8-eeee-llda-9a60-93180aflbbla.html, accessed 27 August 2006).

Hermeneutical Conflict? Reading the Bible in Contemporary China


49. Ye Xiaowen, 'Zhengyi de guanmian' wei Fu Tieshan zhujiao yubei' [The crown of righteousness is reserved for Bishop Fu Tieshan] Renmin ribao (haiwaiban) [People's Daily Overseas Edition], 28 April 2007, p. 1. 50. Wang Dejun, 'Mushi feifa yinfa Shengjing re guan fei' [Pastor's Illegal Printing and Distributing of the Bible Taken to Court], Ta Kung Pao (Hong Kong, 8 July 2005): 1.

4 The Bible in the Twentieth-Century Chinese Christian Church1 Thor Strandenaes The focus of this chapter is the impact of the Bible upon the twentiethcentury Chinese Christian Church. The study is limited to available written sources: it is not exhaustive, but aims to give a representative picture of the use and reception of the Chinese Bible. It covers only hanyu (Mandarin) translations, and not Chinese minority languages. For reasons given below, a particular emphasis is placed on the Protestant translations. The history and status of the Bible in the Protestant Church in China is in many ways different to that of the Catholic Church, although there are parallels. The main difference is that the Protestant work in China in the nineteenth century started with the translation and dissemination of the Bible, whereas it was only in the very last decades of the same century that Catholic translations in wenyan (literary, or classical Chinese)2 and northern Mandarin (Peking dialect) of parts of the New Testament started to be published.4 It was only in 1968 that the Chinese Catholics got the entire Bible in one volume, translated and published by the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Sinense (hereafter SBF).5 Thus, whereas the Chinese Catholics outside the PRC have been able to use and read this Bible in the last four decades of the twentieth century, mainland Catholics have only been able to purchase and read a Chinese Catholic Bible since the late 1980s. The SBF as well as other Catholic versions of the New Testament (NT) have been printed and circulated in much smaller numbers than have the Protestant versions. Its impact on the mainland prior to 19976 must therefore be regarded as marginal.

1. The Bible in the Chinese Protestant Church A mere glance at H.W. Spillett's A Catalogue of Chinese Scriptures in the Languages of China and the Republic of China reveals the dominant role of the spoken language as a norm for biblical translation in China in general, and in the twentieth century in particular. Out of 1,082 entries in the languages of China and the Republic of China, 994 are in hanyu. Out of these, 705 - or about three-quarters - are in the Mandarin vernacular (guanhua or guoyu) or local hanyu dialects; with only one quarter in classical Chinese (wenyan or wenli).7 Classical Chinese was at first the 68

The Bible in the Twentieth-Century Chinese Christian Church


norm for Protestant Bible translators in China, reaching its peak in 1858 with publication of the Delegates' Version of the Bible, an edition still available in reprint.8 Although a new version in classical Chinese was prepared - the Union Wenli Version - and published in 1919, the same year as the Union Mandarin Version (hereafter referred to as the Chinese Union Version, CUV), versions of the Bible in classical Chinese were not printed in any considerable numbers in the twentieth century, mainly because of the immense popularity of the CUV among Protestants. When the People's Republic of China initiated and started implementing a more open-door policy in the late 1970s, the Christian Church soon felt the impact of less restrictive attitudes than in the days of the so-called Cultural Revolution. The Church was permitted once again to print and circulate the Bible. In 1985 the PRC government ratified the establishment of the Amity Printing Press whose main purpose was to print scriptures and other approved religious literature, especially Chinese hymnals. In 2004 the Chinese Bible was unofficially the best-selling book in China,9 and by 2006 some 50 million bibles and parts of the Bible had been printed at the Amity Printing Press.10 One important reason why versions of the Chinese Protestant Bible have been printed in more than 300 million11 copies since the first Protestant translations is that a high percentage of Chinese Christians tend to own their own copy of the Bible or the New Testament, and churches purchase bibles to be used by participants in worship, Sunday School and other fellowship activities. Until the turn of this century it was only possible in the PRC to purchase Chinese bibles by ordering them through local congregations. In the last few years, however, purchase of bibles has become possible elsewhere in the PRC, either by ordering directly from the Amity Press in Nanjing or through certain commercial bookstores. The ban on printing and circulating religious literature was, of course, never extended to Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore, and the Chinese Bible continued to be printed and circulated freely after 1949 in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.12 Throughout the twentieth century the Chinese Union Version continued to be published and used by the Protestants on both the mainland and abroad, but its printing and circulation was halted in the PRC for a number of years before, during and after the Cultural Revolution.13 In 1949 there were a number of Protestant versions in circulation in China, both in Mandarin Chinese and in the minority languages of China, either as complete bibles or parts thereof, especially New Testaments. But the most widely printed and circulated version overall was the CUV. During the Cultural Revolution a high percentage of scriptures owned by churches and individuals were confiscated, many of them burned. When printing and circulation was again legalized by the PRC government it was only the CUV which was printed and circulated on the mainland by the Protestants.14 If we analyse the reasons for the popularity of the CUV, six important ones emerge. During the twentieth century, the CUV had become the most printed and circulated hanyu version in the Chinese Protestant


Thor Strandenaes

Church, within and outside the mainland. The NT of this version was first published in 1907, the whole Bible in 1919. Protestant missionaries in China had at an early stage in their ministry among the Chinese made an effort to reach the common, non- or less-educated people with literature, especially the Bible, using the spoken or vernacular language (baihud). As early as 1854 a vernacular translation of the Gospel of Matthew was printed, and in 1857 the entire New Testament in southern (or Nanking) Mandarin, prepared by William H. Medhurst and J. Stronach, and published in Shanghai. In the following years, from 1862 onwards, a number of the OT and NT books as well as entire Old and New Testaments, were published in Peking Mandarin as a result of the work of the Peking Committee,16 the Union Mandarin Version Committee, or of individual missionaries.17 The work on the CUV began in the 1890s as an ecumenical effort following the China Mission conference of 1890,18 employing both overseas missionaries and Chinese literati.19 Its very name Union Version - or in Chinese, heheben, 'the uniting book'/'the union book' - speaks about the kind of achievement this group project represents. A further reason for the popularity of the edition concerns external social factors: the CUV was translated and publicized during a time when the general education of Chinese children was gaining speed, and the movement towards a vernacular literature had begun. Jost Oliver Zetzsche has rightly identified the CUV as 'the culmination of Protestant missionary bible translation in China'.20 But as he and others have pointed out, it was particularly due to the heavy involvement of Chinese co-translators in this project that the CUV attained its quality as a Chinese text. The year of the May Fourth movement (1919) was the very year in which the CUV was first published. Its birth coincided with a popular and forceful movement which promoted the linguistic norm chosen for the CUV translation - baihua, the vernacular. The Protestant Church's Bible thus merged with this cultural movement and change of focus in China. In itself this enhanced the popularity and reception of the CUV - and not only because it broke with the ancient tradition of literary Chinese, but because it was in a form which those with no training in reading Chinese classics could read or listen to intelligibly when read aloud. This corresponded with the intent of the translators, as expressed by C.W. Mateer in the English title and preface to the CUV version of the NT of 1907: With reference to the grade of Mandarin, we have aimed to use such language as would be understood when read in the hearing of an intelligent but uneducated congregation. We have striven hard to avoid localisms on the one hand and book forms on the other ... We have occasionally used book expressions when Mandarin failed us, also a few colloquial expressions will be found which are not perhaps 't'ung tsing' (in common use): yet always such as are widely and increasingly used and which are intelligible to all educated men.21

The Bible in the Twentieth-Century Chinese Christian Church


It is worth noting the importance during the last decades of nineteenth and early twentieth-century China of vernacular Bible translations, Scripture portions and tracts in the congregational, institutional and outreach work of the Church in China. In Christian primary, secondary and tertiary education, the Bible was taught as a subject in schools through to the 1940s, and outside the PRC during the entire twentieth century. Bible Stories and Bible texts were read and interpreted during daily devotions in schools as well as diaconal institutions operated by the churches,22 and this was all done in the vernacular. Thus, by the time the CUV was published, both Christians and the many non-Christians with whom the Church had contact through institutions, outreach and worship, were mainly used to the Bible in a linguistic form close to their spoken language. Much of the non-biblical translation work from European languages as well as English done by missionaries, Chinese Christians and Chinese who had received education in Church institutions was also into baihua.23 This must be taken into consideration when one considers the role of the missionaries and Christians in China in preparing the way for the spoken-language movement of May Fourth 1919. Although scholars such as Janice Wickeri have considered that the Union Version did not have any direct or catalytic effect on the development of modern literary language in China,24 more recent work by literary theorists such as Yuan Jin of Fudan University has challenged this line, proposing a strong link between missionary publications and the development of the modern Chinese language itself.25 The fact that Chinese Christian Scriptures - and many translations of Western books into Chinese, including science, history, religious and secular literature had appeared in guanhua (Mandarin) for more than 60 years before the May Fourth literary revolution, and therefore also introduced the vernacular in both literary and religious texts, must at least have contributed to the reception of spoken Chinese as a norm for literature. Many of the contributors to the success of the May Fourth movement had also received their education in Christian schools, both Protestant and Catholic; some of them were even Christians themselves. Finally, the immense popularity which the CUV has enjoyed in the Chinese Protestant Church is also explained by its position during the Cultural Revolution. In spite of the mass confiscation and burning of Christian scriptures, people managed to hide away individual copies, subsequently read in secret and divided into portions for wider circulation. Many learned portions or large parts of the Bible by heart, not least by memorizing and singing the so-called gospel songs (fuyinge) or short songs with biblical texts (duange), some of which existed before the Cultural Revolution, others which were written by Chinese Christians during this difficult period for the Church. In this way texts from the Bible in the words of the CUV version were transmitted orally, especially passages considered central to the understanding of the Christian faith and ethos. Respect for the status and unifying role of the CUV in the Protestant Church in the PRC at first made the Church leadership hesitant to join in


Thor Stranden&s

the process when, in the 1980s, a call for a Revised CUV was voiced in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and other Chinese churches outside China. There was an obvious need for revision. The Chinese language had changed and developed much since the appearance of the CUV in 1919, and biblical studies had developed far more scientifically updated editions of the OT and NT source texts than were available for the CUV translators. The fact that this version had stood the test during the years of oppression and its unifying role within the Protestant Church in the PRC made the church leadership fear that a revised version might sabotage or split the unity of the post-denominational Protestant Church. This fear encouraged the Church leadership, both on and outside the mainland, to proceed slowly and take the necessary time to secure a broad backing for the project. After several rounds of consultation the project was launched, and through the active participation of mainland theologians as translators and reviewers in the revision process, the China Christian Council in 2003 finally gave the green light to the Revised CUV project and agreed to join the other Chinese churches through the ecumenical network of the United Bible Societies, with the Hong Kong Bible Society as project coordinating body.26 The Revised CUV New Testament was published early in 2006 and is now being printed by the Bible societies in Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as die Amity Printing Press in Nanjing, circulating in both traditional and simplified characters. The Old Testament is being reviewed and aimed at publication in 2009 to form an entire Revised CUV Bible.27 With this background it is understandable why other newer twentiethcentury Chinese Protestant versions, such as Lii Chen-chung's Version28 the Today's Chinese Version, the New Chinese Bible and the Chinese Living Bible (all from the 1970s) - in spite of marketing and active efforts of distribution - have failed to reach a high circulation within the PRC. Outside the mainland only the Today's Chinese Version (in addition to the CUV) has been circulated in considerable numbers: more in Taiwan than elsewhere, and more readily bought by young people than by the old. In sum, the Chinese Protestant Church, because of its focus on literature in the vernacular, its use of vernacular in public and private worship, and in its educational and sociodiaconal work, contributed to paving the way for the high status of the vernacular, at least within the Church, before and after the May Fourth movement.

2. The Chinese Catholic Bible Characteristic historical differences between Chinese Protestants and Catholics with regard to the translation and use of the Bible have been noted above. Not until the decision of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s to encourage translation of the Bible into the vernacular languages of the different countries and churches, and to disseminate such translations among the lay members of the Church to be read and studied, did the Bible become a book readily available for Catholics in

The Bible in the Twentieth-Century Chinese Christian Church


general and Chinese Catholics in particular. The translation work on this version was done by the members of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Sinense and started long before Vatican II. The results were first published from 1946 to 1961 in an 11-volume text and commentary edition of more than 9,500 pages, but the first Chinese Catholic Bible to appear in one volume, the Shengjing (SBF), appeared only after the end of Vatican II, published in Hong Kong in 1968.29 Since then it has been published and circulated widely among Chinese Catholics outside the mainland, but has not enjoyed the same general ownership and usage privately among Christians in this church as compared to the Bible in the Chinese Protestant Church. In the PRC Chinese Catholics in general were only able to experience the effects of Vatican II on the dissemination of the Bible in the late 1980s. There are presently two Catholic translations in circulation in the PRC, one entire Bible (SBF), and one translation of the New Testament by Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian. The SBF, like the CUV, is printed in both traditional and simplified script. According to Arnulf Camps, some 20,000 copies of the SBF Old Testament had been printed and circulated in 1990, and subsequently the Religious Affairs Bureau gave permission to print 200,000 copies of the entire Bible; in June 1993 the first 50,000 copies came off the press in Beijing.30 More than 400,000 copies of the SBF Bible were printed in 2002-3. Tliis version is the one most widely used in the PRC, but in Shanghai and its surrounds the one-man NT version by Jin Luxian is quite popular. First issued were the four gospels (1986),31 with the entire NT and a NT with explanations in 1994. Jin Luxian's version is in contemporary language, whereas the language of the SBF version, although quite readable, needs further revision.33 The rather short time which the Chinese Catholic Bible has been available to Chinese Catholics at large - both within and outside the PRC - ensured its lesser impact in the twentieth-century Catholic Church than the CUV in the Protestant Church. As the main thrust in Chinese Catholic Bible translation occurred only after the May Fourth movement, rather than preparing the way for this movement, the Chinese Catholic Bible must be seen as an implementation of it - as well as of the guiding principles which were confirmed in the Second Vatican Council. This does not mean, however, that the Bible has been unimportant in the Chinese Catholic Church. It was taught in schools and used in social institutions throughout the century, and read and sung in church, especially in public worship. The following survey of Chinese hymnals will further confirm this point.

3. The Bible in Chinese Christian hymnody 1950-2000 The Bible has been read and sung in the liturgical and devotional life of the Chinese churches, both Catholic and Protestant, throughout the twentieth century, and has either been quoted directly or otherwise been the dominant source of inspiration in Chinese hymnody. There is, however, a difference between the Catholic and Protestant traditions


Thor Strandenaes

which needs noting at the outset. In the Protestant churches the biblical texts of the CUV became a main source of inspiration for both hymnody in general and the sung OT Psalms in particular.34 In the Catholic Church, however, the liturgy, the Psalms and other biblical texts used in the Mass had been translated into Chinese long before the Chinese Catholic Bible appeared in 1968. Thus, neither did the liturgical texts influence the Chinese Catholic Bible nor were they themselves influenced by this version. Throughout the centuries the Psalms have been treasured highly and used widely within the Christian Church. In China they have also been popular and widely used in churches. They have been used during the office of the hours, the Mass and other forms of public worship, and also for private devotion - for individuals as well as in fellowship prayers. Some of the Psalms gained particular importance during times of war, famine, strife and revolution, and especially during the Cultural Revolution.35 A number of these have been included in different Chinese hymnals, and in the hymnal published in 1983 by the hymnal committee of the China Christian Council in the PRC - the Zanmeisi which included Psalms 23, 100, 103, 121, 133, and 150.36 The fact that Protestant bibles in the PRC have been printed and bound together with the hymnal in one volume since the 1990s, shows the Protestant Church is particularly prone to see hymns as mainly inspired by biblical texts, which come to represent an extended arm of the Bible. The close relationship between the biblical texts and the hymnals is easily seen in both Chinese Catholic and Protestant hymnals. In the following survey examples from four hymnals suffice to illustrate this point. 4. Four hymnals (a) Hymns of Praise [Songzhu Shengshi, 1955/94]: Lutheran37 A number of biblical texts - including the Psalms - are found in this hymnal, following the CUV translation. These include, among others: Ps. 23, the Lord's Prayer, and Jn 14.1-3 ('Let not your heart be troubled'), all three with Chinese melodies; the latter two with traditional Chinese melodies; the Magnificat, the Nunc Dimittis, and the Benedictus, all three of which have medieval chant melodies. All hymns have reference(s) to biblical text(s) under their titles, pointing the user to the biblical texts which are referred to in or have inspired, the individual hymn.38 (b) Hong Kong Catholic Hymnal [Song en-xinyou geji, 1976/85]: Roman Catholic39 In line with Catholic tradition, Chinese Catholics put great emphasis on singing the Psalms, as illustrated in this hymnal, which includes a substantial number (especially from hymn nos 112-37). The psalm numbers in the OT are found both in the list of contents and at the top of each Psalm.40 The following Psalms have been included: Ps. 16,19,23,25, 33,47,57, 66, 95,100,113,117,123,130,131,136,145. Whereas few other references or allusions are made in this hymnal to the Old Testament,

The Bible in the Twentieth-Century Chinese Christian Church

some texts such as Jn except for references,


have been inspired by the New, with clear allusions to texts 11.25, Jn 6.33-35 and 1 Cor. 15.22; Jn 13.34; Mt. 5.3-10. But the Psalms, none of the hymns are furnished with textual neither in the index nor under the title.

(c) Hymns of Universal Praise [Putian Songzan, 1977/1994/2006]: Protestant Ecumenical41 References to and short quotations of relevant biblical texts are given under the titles of all hymns, with the exception of the liturgical music {liyi shige nos 551-597).42 Among the indices (pp. 2-5), there is an 'Index of Scriptural References', organized according to the order of scriptures found in the Bible. The user of the hymnal may thus easily find hymns which refer to or are inspired by specific biblical texts. This not only emphasises the correspondence between the hymnal and the Bible but also enables the interested user to turn from a hymn to a biblical text, and vice versa. A similar pattern of providing biblical references and quotations is followed in the Chinese Missionary and Alliance church hymnal, Hymns of Life [Shengming Shengshi] (1986)43 and the Baptist hymnal Century Praise [Shiji Songzan] Chinese Version; 2001.44 (d) Hymnal [Zanmeishi, 1983]: Protestant post-denominational45 Zanmeishi was published by the China Christian Council in 1983 and contains a selection of hymns from more than 13 well-known Chinese hymnals, as well as a number of other indigenous Chinese hymns written in the PRC. The Zanmeishi includes the following Psalms: Ps. 23, 100,103, 121,150, along with a few other hymns which are inspired by the Psalms: 'O Come, let us Sing to the Lord', 'A Mighty Fortress is our God' (Ps. 46); and 'The King of Love my Shepherd is' (Ps. 23). Other hymns relate biblical stories, such as no. 330 ('Sage and Virtuous Women of Old') which presents Ruth, Esther, Mary of Bethany and Dorcas, and no. 331 ('Learning from the Saints') which presents Abraham, Moses, David, Peter and Paul as models of faith. No biblical references or quotes, however, are given for any of the 400 hymns, with the exception of the appended 42 duange ('short songs'), where some Bible references are given. But here too the Psalms and other scripture passages are either quoted or used as sources of inspiration. In the companion to this hymnal - a historical guide edited by Huang Shenle,46 a biblical reference is given at the entry of each of all the 400 hymns which are introduced either to the text which the hymn quotes or refers to more or less directly, or to the text which may have inspired the author, or which is otherwise easily associated with by the hymn text. The biblical books most quoted or referred to in the Zanmeishi are the Psalms, the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark, and the book of Revelation. This shows that in the life of the Church, such scripture passages are mostly used which give references to the teachings, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus, psalms of praise, and texts which speak about hope and an afterlife. In other words, biblical texts which reflect basic biblical truths, inspire faith and contribute to coping with everyday life.


Thor Strandenxs

Conclusion Whereas the motivation behind the wenyan Bible translations was to reach well-educated people, introducing them to the Bible as a Christian classic - both as literature and as a religious book, communicating the origins of and norms for Christian faith and ethos - the main thrust in both Chinese Protestant and Catholic translation in the twentieth century has been to communicate this in the vernacular, and to publish versions which address the people of China at large, both the less educated and those with no formal education at all. The Chinese Protestant Bible was far more influential in the Protestant Church in the twentieth century than the Catholic version(s) in the Roman Catholic Church. This was mainly because the Chinese Union Version was available for most of the century and widely distributed among Chinese Protestant Christians, whereas the Catholic Bible has had a more limited and shorter period of distribution. It was also more widely available outside the mainland than within. Nevertheless it has been used in both churches when instructing in the Christian faith, and in local congregations. In the Protestant Church it has been used widely in Bible study and other fellowship groups. Because of its wide circulation among Chinese Protestants, it has been used more freely in private, as a source for deepening the understanding of the Christian faith, as a guide to daily life situations, and as a guideline for ethics. In both churches the Bible's role in public worship has also been important, whether read or sung, and thus many of the biblical texts - especially Psalms - have been learned by heart. Due to the dominant and unifying role of the Chinese Union Version, the Bible in China has attained a status in the Protestant Church in China where it is the main guideline for doctrine, worship, devotional and moral life. Although the Bible has played an important role in the Chinese Catholic Church as well, in liturgical and devotional use, as well as in educational work (including catechism instruction), the fact that it has not been so widely published and circulated, and therefore not so much used by private lay Christians, has given it a comparatively less dominant role within the Catholic Church in the twentieth century. Biblical texts have had a key role in twentieth-century hymnody. This includes their role as sung texts, especially the Psalms, and as a source of inspiration for hymns. Whereas both Catholic and Protestant hymnals contain texts from the Psalms, the Catholic Church has included a much greater number of these. And, whereas the text of the Chinese Union Version has had a strong influence on Protestant hymnody, the Catholic hymns have been written independently of the Chinese Catholic Bible (SBF). Thus, in both churches the Bible has had a strong impact on the hymnody, but only the Protestants have made active use of the existing Bible in Chinese. In both churches, however, biblical texts have constituted an important part of public worship, both in reading and singing. As such, both the Bible and the hymnody represent a source for ecumenical cooperation between these churches, since they are seen to

The Bible in the Twentieth-Century Chinese Christian Church


have influenced both Church traditions strongly, albeit independently of each other.

Notes 1. A preliminary draft of this essay was presented at the European Association of Chinese Studies Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, September 2006. 2. A wenyan translation of Acts was prepared by Lawrence Li Wen-yii SJ and published in 1887, and a summary in northern Mandarin (Peking) of the Gospels and Acts was translated by M. Sen SJ and published in 1890; cf. Hubert W. Spillett, A Catalogue of Chinese Scriptures in the Languages of China and the Republic of China (London: British and Foreign Bible Society, 1975), nos 176, 358. 3. The Mandarin New Testament versions are the ones translated by Joseph Hsiao ChingShan (1922/1930), and by a group of Jesuits (1949); cf. Spillett, A Catalogue, nos 492,535. See Thor Strandenaes, Principles of Chinese Bible Translation as Expressed in Five Versions of the New Testament and Exemplified by Mt 5.1-12 and Col 1, Coniectanea Biblica, New Testament Series 19 (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1987), pp. lOOff. For an overview of early Catholic translations of Bible stories, lectionaries and other liturgically used Bible texts, see B.H. Willeke, D a s Werden der chinesischen katholischen Bibel', Neue Zeitschrift fur Missionswissenscaft, 16 (1960): 281-95. For Wu Jingxiong's translation (1949) of the Psalms into classical Chinese verse, see Francis K.H. So, *Wu ChingHsiung's Chinese Translation of Images of the Most High in the Psalms' in Irene Eber, Sze-kar Wan and Knut Waif (eds), Bible in Modern China. The Literary and Intellectual Impact, Monumenta Serica Monograph Series XUII (Sankt Augustin, Nettetal: Steyler, 1999), pp. 321-50. 4. See also John Wu Ching Hsiung's translation into classical Chinese of the Psalms (Shanghai: The Commercial Press 1946), the Gospels and the New Testament (both 1949), cf. Spillet, A Catalogue, no. 238. For his own record of the history behind this version, see J.C.H. Wu, Beyond East and West (New York, 1952); cf. Su Ji Hang, 'Wu Ching-Hsiung's Chinese Translation of Images of the Most High in the Psalms', in Eber et al, Bible in Modern China, pp. 263-90. 5. For a short introduction to this version, together with an analysis of the underlying principles of translation, see Strandenaes, Principles of Chinese Bible Translation, pp. 10021; cf. Arnulf Camps, 'Father Gabriele M. Allegra, OFM (1907-1976) and the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum: The First Complete Chinese Catholic Translation of the Bible', in Eber et al, Bible in Modern China, pp. 55-76. 6. I.e. the year when Hong Kong politically became part of the PRC. 7. The first 239 entries in Spillett are all subsumed under the heading 'Chinese - High Wenli' (guwen); the next 50 are entitled 'Chinese - Easy Wenli' (wenli being a simpler form of the guwen; with 340 in 'Chinese - Mandarin'; 365 in 'Chinese local dialects' and the rest in Tribal languages of China' and 'Languages of the Republic of China'. 8. The Delegates' Version was reprinted extensively. I own a reprint from 1982, printed by The Bible Society in The Republic of China of the Wenli Reference Bible in the Delegates' Version, published by the British and Foreign Bible Society, Shanghai 1920. The complete edition of the NT was published in 1852 (Spillett, A Catalogue, no. 59), the OT in 1854 (no. 67), and the entire Bible in 1858 (no. 90). For the principles of translation governing this version, see Strandenaes, Principles, pp. 48-75. 9. Kua Wee-Sheng (UBS China Partnership Coordinator) in 'Annual Report 2004 (www.; accessed 28 August 2006). 10. The Amity Printing Company was established in 1987 and started printing in 1988. Eighteen years later (January 2006), 50 million copies and portions of the Bible had






15. 16.




Thor Strandenaes been printed (www.airutyprintingxom/new/iinage/report-e-nian_l.jpg; accessed 19 December 2006). An editorial in the Beijing Review, 49 (1 June 2006): 22 states that According to the Bible Society in China, more than 300 million copies of the Bible in Chinese have been published and distributed since 1823 ... between 1979 and 1986, the Chinese Government allowed the Bible to be circulated among Christians on the mainland and designated factories for printing. A total of 5 million copies were sold during these six years ( china-3.htm; accessed 26 June 2006). The shortage of bibles in the PRC led many churches and agencies based outside the PRC to bring (single copies as gifts or numerous copies through smuggling) or send bibles to friends and contacts in the PRC by mail. Some agencies still 'smuggle' bibles, but the fact that the Nanjing Press is able to print so many bibles has reduced this acitivity significantly. 'The last foreign Bible Society withdrew from China's mainland in 1953 and the Chinese Bible Society was dissolved in 1954. However, between 1949 and 1955, some 212,000 copies of the complete translation of the Bible, 138,000 copies of the New Testament and 3 million copies of the Gospel[s] were distributed ...' (Beijing Review 49 [1 June 2006]: 22). Since 1992 a Chinese NT hexopla has been available for purchase both outside and within the PRC. This volume contains six editions or versions in parallel columns, comprising the United Bible Societies' [UBS] NT Greek text, the New Revised Standard Version, the CUV, TCV, the Catholic Chinese version prepared by the Studium Biblicum Sinense (Shigao Shengjing), and the Chinese version prepared by Lii Chen-chung (1968). This edition enables Chinese readers to observe for themselves how different principles, choice of readings and renderings affect the different versions and their implications. In a situation where one version - i.e. CUV - enjoys a near monopoly in the Chinese Protestant Church, the very existence of alternative versions, as well as this NT hexapla may contribute to a more differentiated view of Bible translation. Spillett, A Catalogue, nos 580 and 58. The Gospels and Acts appeared in 1866 (published in Peking: Spillett, A Catalogue, no. 298). By 1864 a number of missionary translators were engaged in this project: Joseph Edkins, William A.P. Martin, Samuel Isaac Jacob Schereschewsky, J.S. Burdon, and J. Blodget; (see Spillett, A Catalogue, no. 290). For the Peking Committee versions, see Spillett, A Catalogue, nos 290 and 291-7. The Gospels and Acts appeared in 1866 (published in Peking, no. 298). For the remarkable contribution of one of these translators, Samuel Isaac Jacob Schereschewsky, see Irene Eber, The Jewish Bishop and the Chinese Bible: S.I.]. Schereschewsky (1831-1906) (Studies in Christian Mission, Vol. 22; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1999). The OT translated by Schereschewsky was published together with the Peking Committee's NT version as a Bible in one volume in 1890, and his revised OT together with the Peking Committee's NT version in one volume in 1899. Jost Oliver Zetzsche, The Bible in China: The History of the Union Version, or the Culmination of Protestant Missionary Bible Translation in China (Nettetal: Steyler Verlag, Monumenta Serica Monograph Series, no. 45,1999). Zetsche has done a remarkable job in identifying the names (and also some of the background information) of the Chinese co-translators in the CUV project. Chinese literati were often not named or merely referred to as 'secretaries', 'language teachers' or 'Chinese assistants', etc. and not given due recognition for their substantial contribution in the translation process when reports were made or in former historical records of the CUV translation history. (Cf. my article, 'Anonymous Bible Translators: Native Literati and the Translation of the Bible into Chinese, 1807-1907', ed. Stephen Batalden, Kathleen Cann and John Dean, Sowing the Word: The Cultural Impact of the

The Bible in the Tzventieth-Century Chinese Christian Church

20. 21. 22.


24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29.

30. 31. 32. 33. 34.


British and Foreign Bible Society 1804r-2004 [Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2004], pp. 121-48). Le. the sub-title of Zetsche, The Bible in China. Zetsche's work provides a thorough presentation of the process behind the CUV, and an analysis of the historical circumstances in which it was conceived and produced. Spillett, A Catalogue, no. 417.1 have elsewhere given a presentation of the principles of translation followed in the CUV (Strandenaes, Principles, pp. 22-47). In 1893 the Protestant missionary societies reported a total of 55,093 communicant Church members and 21,353 pupils or students in their 1,301 educational institutions, not including theological seminaries (The China Mission Hand-book [Shanghai: American Presbyterian Mission Press 1896], pp. 325f.). In 1911 the number of pupils hade grown to 102,533 (China Mission Year Book, 1911, Statistical Summary), and in 1915 to 169,707 (The Christian Occupation of China, 1922, p. xcvi). See also Jessie G. Lutz, China and the Christian Colleges, 1850-1950 (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 1971), as well as my article on the impact of the work of the (Norwegian) Protestant missionaries in sociodiaconal institutions in Hunan, Thor Strandenaes (text), Nils Kristian Htoimyr and BJ0rg Bergey Johansen (picture documentation), 'Misjonsdiakonien som kulturuttrykk i Kina, En tekst- og bildedokumentasjon fra Httnan-provinsen' in Thor Strandenaes (ed.), Misjon og kultur. Festskrift til fan-Martin Berentsen (Stavanger: Misjonshagskolens, 2006), pp. 167-207. Thus, the majority of publications found in A Classified Index to the Chinese literature of the Prostestant [sic] Christian Churches in China (Shanghai: The Christian Publishers' Association of China/Kwong Hsueh, 1933) is in baihua. For other contributions pointing in the same direction, see, e.g. Lewis S. Robertson, Ttouble-edged Sword: Christianity and Twentieth-century Chinese Fiction', TR, 13.2 (winter 1982): 161-84. Janice Wickeri, /fIhe Union Version of the Bible and its Relationship to the New Literature in China', Translator, 1.2 (1995): 129-52. Cf. Yuan Jin, Zhongguo zvenxue: Jindai biange (Guilin: Guangxi Normal, 2006), pp. 69-% For a brief history and guiding principles of the Revised CUV, see the presentation of the project on the website of the Hong Kong Bible Society: (last accessed 15 August 2006). The NT version from 2006 may still undergo some final revision in response to reactions from readers at large and the input of clergy and theologians during the trial period but is otherwise considered more or less final. See Spillett, A Catalogue, no. 572 (cf. nos 530 and 539). For the history behind this version, see Arnulf Camps, 'Father Gabriele M. Allegra, OFM (1907-76) and the Studium Biblicum Frandscanum: The First Complete Chinese Catholic Translation of the Bible', in Eber, Bible in Modern China, pp. 41-60. For the principles of translation followed in this version (NT), see Strandenaes, Principles, pp. 100-21. See also D. Gandolfi, For China - Another Jerome: The Life and Work of Father Gabriele Allegra, trans, and ed. R.S. Almagno, M. Mazuk (New York: Franciscan Province of the Immaculate Conception, 1984). Camps, 'Father Gabriele M. Allegra', p. 73. Jin Luxian, Shengjing, shang, sifuyin [Four Gospels] (Shanghai* Tianzhujiao Shanghai Jiaoqu, 1986). Jin Luxian, Shengjing. Xinyue Quanshu (Shanghai: Yushan Shouyuanjin, 1994); Shengjing. Xinyue Quanshu (Zushiben) (Shanghai: Tianzhujiao Shanghai Jiaoqu Guangkaishe, 1994). The textual basis of the SBF version is, however, much more scientifically up to date than that of CUV (that is, until the Revised CUV appeared in 2006). See Strandenaes, Principles, pp. 101-10. This may be seen in the Chinese Lutheran hymnal, Hymns of Universal Praise (1955), where both the Psalms (e.g. Ps. 23: hymn no. 586) and the hymns quoting biblical texts (the Lord's Prayer, Mt. 6.9-13: no. 590; the Magnificat, Lk. 1.46-55: no. 587; the Nunc




37. 38. 39.

40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45.


Thor Strandenaes Dimittis, Lk. 2.29-32: no. 588; the Prologue, Jn 1.1-18: no. 82; and Jn 14.1-3.27: no. 591) do so in the words of the CUV. The fact that war and oppression tend to lead people to rediscover and use the Psalms is noted by Claus Westermann (Dos Loben Gottes in den Psalmen [Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1968,4th edn], p. 5) and exemplified by the German Confessing Church in its opposition to official German politics during the Second World War. An English edition of the foreword of this hymnal - 'Foreword to the Chinese Hymnal 1983 Edition' - by the Chinese Christian Hymnal Committee, may be found in Chinese Theological Review, 1985: 143-7, likewise in the preface of the bilingual edition of the Zannteisi The New Hymnal (English-Chinese bilingual) (Nanjing: China Christian Council 1999). These psalms were hymn nos 379, 380, 381, 382, 383 and 384, respectively. Third rev. edn, Hong Kong 1955; 4th rev. edn (Hong Kong: Taosheng, 1994). Also in the rev. edn of 1994 all hymns are given a reference to a biblical text under their titles. 'Praise Grace Collection of Songs for Friends of the Faith' (Hong Kong, 1976; rev. edn 1985). The hymns included are identical. In the new version slight revision has been done on some of the texts, and some additions included: (a) at the beginning, a recognition of other hymnals which have been used, an outline of the Mass and a topical index; (b) at the end, a list of authors (and dates) and composers (and dates) and origins of each hymn. Exceptions are Ps. 130 (hymn no. 203), Ps. 100 (no. 79) where the five verses, including chorus, comprise Ps. 100.1-5. Hymns of Universal Praise [Putian Songzan, new rev. edn] (Hong Kong: Chinese Christian Literature Council, 2006), based on the 1977 and 1994 rev. edns. In the Hymns of Universal Praise (new rev. edn, 2006) the Scripture references with quotations are found at the bottom of each hymn/page. Hong Kong: China Alliance Press, 1986. Hong Kong: Baptist Press (International) Ltd., 2001. An English edn of the foreword of this hymnal - 'Foreword to the Chinese Hymnal 1983 Edition' - by the Chinese Christian Hymnal Committee, may be found in Chinese Theological Review 1985,143-147 Zanmeishi (xin bian) Shihua [Historical Guide to the New Edition of the Hymnal] (Shanghai: China Christian Council, 1992).

5 Studying the New Testament in the Chinese Academic World: A Survey, 1976-2006 Zha Changping The original scope of this essay, which provides an overview and survey of academic research on the New Testament in China, was limited to mainland China. However, by the 1990s, with the publication of journals by overseas Chinese in a Chinese language medium, there was also an active community of overseas scholars from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Chinese communities in Europe and northern America all participating in biblical studies which aimed at instituting 'Theology in the Chinese Language',1 and I take this into account in this essay. In 1953 the Nanjing Theological Review began to be published by the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, carrying some articles on the Bible by scholars from churches which were in accord with the Three Self Patriotic Movement.2 The starting-point of these articles was usually the actual situation of the contemporary churches in China. In an article entitled 'Whether or not the Bible Denies Human Value',3 for example, author Xu Rulei argues that since humanity was created in God's image, and the image of God is love, righteousness, holiness and kindness, God would want humans to possess these qualities. From this, Xu goes on to criticize the prevalent discourse on racial eugenics in the West in the first half of the twentieth century. His second line of argument proposes that teachings on the doctrine of the Fall of humanity which had been 'propagated onesidedly' should be criticized, in order to defend the good works of thousands of people in real society. For each point of argument, and in his further discussions on the question of God's will, the author lists biblical verses in support. In general, however, the churches in China have rarely engaged with the Bible, 'to the point of its absence'.4 Biblical studies in the Chinese academic world forms a part of Christian studies. Popular topics in Christian studies in China include 'the historical development of Christianity, Christian theological thought, the Christian history of China, Chinese Church education, studies of canon law, Christian Culture and the contemporary state of Christianity'.5 From this summary by Zhuo Xinping of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, we can see how classical Christian study lies outside the main focus of Chinese scholarship. Until 1996, apart from two 81


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volumes by Zhu Weizhi on literary themes in the Bible,6 other works published on the Bible were all strictly informational books.7 In terms of biblical study-tools in China, a few anthologies or collected volumes have recently appeared containing translated works on the theme of biblical studies, but little else.8 Various works have presented the Bible from an integrated perspective, such as Biblical Language and Thought,9 written in Chinese by the Austrian Leopold Leeb, and Sun Yi's Introduction to the Bible.10 The latter forms a guide to the whole Bible, in categories such as the Pentateuch, the histories, and the prophets. While Sun Yi's text overcomes the generalities of previous works in the genre, with sections on historical background, themes and key scriptural texts for each broad category, it remains true that, compared with other fields of Christian studies, the output of works on the Bible is small, 'whether from the standpoint of believers understanding their own faith, or scholars doing pure academic research from an objective standpoint'.11 As Wen Yong goes on to say, Strictly speaking, there is still no Chinese Biblical Studies, or we could say that it is just taking its first steps. Because of historical reasons and differences in ways of thinking, the study of the Bible in China has focused more on its literary and artistic aspects and less on its philology or philosophical thought, and very rarely has it presented any unique views.12 This does not, of course, entirely negate the achievements of biblical studies in the Chinese academic world, especially when 'the Chinese academic world' is not limited to scholarship within mainland China. But compared to scholarship in the West, achievements in biblical studies in Chinese, including Chinese living in Hong Kong, Taiwan and North America, are still few and far between. Biblical studies in China has to date been characterized by two aspects: there are more studies of constituent parts than of the whole; and there is more research in religious studies than theology. In terms of the first, such 'partial studies' include treatment of individual biblical books and topics, and discussion of these topics within the framework of the history of Christian philosophy or Christian dogma.13 On the topic of righteousness and theodicy versus anthrodicy, for example, several scholars have published articles reflecting on the book of Job, such as Liu Xiaofeng's 'Job and the crisis of the conception of ancient wisdom', You Xilin's 'Virtue no longer promises happiness - Job and the demise of the ancient concept of nemesis', Liang Gong's 'An opinion on Job', and so on.14 In terms of other single-issue topics, scholars have discussed biblical topics from a non-church perspective, such as the formation and editions of the Bible,15 cosmology in the Bible,16 the relationship between the Reformation and the New Testament,17 or the use of rhetoric and metaphor in biblical languages.18 Scholars in Hong Kong and Taiwan working within the context of Chinese thought have produced comparative studies of the Bible and Chinese classics, such as the Bible and The Book of Changes [Yijing], the Word and the Dao, the God of the Bible

Studying the New Testament in the Chinese Academic World


and heaven (tian) in Confucianism, or christology in the Bible and the Daodejing.19 Although one scholar has produced a more comprehensive examination of values in the Bible,20 there are very few examples of integrated biblical studies in the Chinese academic world. Moreover, the studies listed above are almost all from the perspective of philosophy of religion or cultural history, and not theology. The field of New Testament Studies in the Chinese academic world displays the same propensity towards a religious studies perspective and towards single-topic analysis. There is also a further overarching tendency: the prevalence of historical studies. No matter whether analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls21 or the tracing of the source of Q and its comparison with Cynicism and scepticism in ancient Greece;22 whether affirming the reality of the historical Jesus, or a selection of contemporary theologians exulting in provoking crises in Christianity by summarizing challenges to traditional christology;23 whether reflection on Paul's theological anthropology or a search for the origins of primitive Christianity;24 whether looking at the influence of the Bible on the doctrine of the human in the Western humanistic tradition, or interpreting the Word in light of hermeneutical theology;25 all of these have had a historical motivation and methodology.

1. Christological perspectives: affirming and denying the historical Jesus In the early 1980s, at the same time as the Christian churches in the Chinese mainland were resuming worship, the academic world started out once again to search for the historical Jesus, dividing into two camps which either affirmed or denied Jesus' existence. These two christological theories have had a continuous influence on later Christian studies research in China. Although some scholars have skirted around the question, there has at least been a recognition of Christianity as a historical phenomenon which has made a particular contribution towards human culture and civilization. In 1981 Hu Yutang, an elderly associate professor at Hangzhou University, published a long article entitled 'The Historical Jesus' in the first issue of the renamed journal World Religion Studies.26 The editorial preface noted 'The question of the historicity of Jesus - the person and his works - is one often discussed by historians of Christianity both in China and abroad. The viewpoint which the author sets out in this paper represent one opinion, and some of the views require further and more in-depth debate and scientific evaluation.' From the content and the editorial preface, it is clear that the knowledge of Jesus proposed comes primarily from historical studies and not a theological perspective. This historical perspective, along with that of Christian philosophical thinking, has consistently governed the direction of Christian studies in the academic world on the mainland, and become an important foundational direction for universities setting up research programmes for Christian studies. One problem with this has become clear: a neglect of research on


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the biblical texts. Given the historical background of the mainland 20 years ago, however, even enabling Jesus, the object of Christian faith, to come within the scope of historical understanding signifies great progress. Hu Yutang reasoned that the various legends and records attached to Jesus are proof that the man Jesus existed in history ... to deny comprehensively the historicity of religious scriptures and mythical legends would be an expression of a sort of nihilism towards the study of ancient history. As for the historical background of the origins of Christianity, we can, and should, explore these from within the New Testament.27 On the basis of evidence in the gospels, Hu Yutang sees two images of Jesus: the first Jesus who thinks that the kingdom of heaven is nothingness, an abstract world of the beyond, and this Jesus advocates 'loving your enemy'; waiting patiently for salvation; and promotes the blessing of being humiliated. This Jesus favours accommodation and obedience to the ruling powers of the day, and bowing and scraping before oppressors and exploiters. The second Jesus, meanwhile, thinks that the kingdom of heaven is a real kingdom that can emerge in this world. This Jesus advocates achieving the reality of this kingdom through struggle and violence; overturning opposing ruling establishments and building a new order; he advocates resisting the power of the Roman authorities and the upper echelons of the Jewish synagogues in order to found the 'Davidic kingdom'.28 Hu conjectures that such opinions might originate from the situation of second-century Christian churches within the Roman Empire, while the image of 'the first Jesus' was mainly formed by Pauline churches.29 The tradition of 'the second Jesus' can be seen in first-century Christian and Jewish sects, especially in their relationships with Essenes and Zealots. The transmission and development of primitive Christianity cannot, in any case, be separated from the monotheism and equality of all believers on which Jesus had insisted during his preaching activities. Two years after Hu Yutang had published his article affirming the historical Jesus, Yan Changyou wrote an article entitled 'Jesus as A Mythological Man in Legend',30 following the line of reasoning in Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire, and

holding that contemporary pagan authors and philosophers disdained to write down the miracles done by Jesus and his disciples. On the basis that Josephus had proclaimed Vespasian (9-79) as the saviour for whom the Israelites were waiting, and since Josephus did not believe Jesus to be a saviour, Yan Changyou claims that the passage relating to Jesus in Josephus' Jewish Antiquities was a counterfeit, inserted by later Christians. From the standpoint of this essay, it is apparent that Yan's conclusion draws on Engels having once said that it was doubtful if the man Jesus

Studying the New Testament in the Chinese Academic World


Christ had existed in history. Yan's essay points out that since the authorship and dating of New Testament writings were uncertain, they could not be considered as proof of Jesus' existence, and that he, Yan, had discovered contradictions in Jesus' so-called own political sayings. (Whether contradictions in a person's sayings show that he did not exist is not discussed.) Such standpoints denying Jesus' existence were to a degree influenced by the arguments which had taken place in Europe in the 1970s on Christ's divinity and humanity.31

2. The perspective of philosophical theology Until the 1990s, although there had been no theological interpretations of the biblical texts in the mainland Chinese academic world, some scholars had begun to consider the question of Jesus' existence from a philosophy of religion perspective. Among these, one essay by Li Qiuling stands out: 'How did Jesus become God?: A cultural interpretation of the Christian doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation'.32 This essay discusses the historical background that early Christianity faced of polytheism and apotheosis in ancient Graeco-Roman culture, first considering Jesus as a historical character, and then explaining the process by which he was apotheosized. According to Li, the gospels are literal records of oral traditions into which some elements of hyperbole became incorporated. It was precisely in this use of hyperbole that primitive Christianity apotheosized Jesus, since otherwise, 'there was not enough to express the degree of believers' respect for their founder, leader and mentor ... and not enough to expand their own influence of faith. However, to apotheosize Jesus was in contradiction with Jewish-Christian faith in monotheism',33 and so, in order to resolve this contradiction, primitive Christianity formed the dogma of the Trinity. Li's first point in support of his hyperbole thesis is a psychological interpretation, while the second interprets cultural transmission. Li further suggests that the process of apotheosizing Jesus began in the gospels. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus' secular identity was as a Nazarene: Mark affirms the special relationship of Jesus to God, but does not establish him as God. Similarly, although the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke trace back the genealogy of Jesus to the founding ancestor Abraham, and to the founding human Adam, they do not make Jesus a God. Hie reason for this, Li posits, is because the tradition of Jewish monotheism limits such thinking. Having been influenced by the theory of Logos of the Jewish philosopher Philo, the Gospel according to John finally exalts Jesus to the status of God, and through this a reconciliation between Christianity and the traditions of ancient Greek philosophy becomes possible. Li accordingly asserts that the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation draw directly from John's Gospel. While the assertion ignores scriptural verses in the synoptic gospels, such as the great commission of Mt. 28, which are often quoted by theologians to establish grounds for the doctrine of the Trinity, however, in terms of Chinese scholarship, that analyses could be made


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regarding the process of Jesus' apotheosis on the basis of New Testament writings themselves marks a quantum leap over approaches in the 1980s to consider the historical Jesus from non-scriptural documents alone. 3. Cross-cultural perspectives It should be relatively easy for scholars trained in Chinese academic traditions to do comparative research on the Bible and Chinese classics. However, this sort of comparative research has been limited to date to discussions of such major areas as the doctrines of God, christology and pneumatology, and limited to the four literatures and traditions of Hebrew, Greek, Christian and Chinese thought. Four example topics of comparative research underway in China are given below: on the doctrine of God, christology, Christian anthropology and ethics. Mark Fang SJ suggests that in order to make comparisons with the God of the Bible, we must recognize that heaven (tian) in Confucianism has personal characteristics. In discussing the God of the Bible, Fang focuses on God's intervention in history as Father and love, on his mercy and righteousness towards humanity, and on God's particular nature of mutual differentiation and mutual interrelation. Because Mark Fang first equates heaven (tian) in Confucianism with God, the doctrine of the union of heaven and man (tianren heyi) becomes that of loving others and loving heaven, which is fulfilled through the incarnate Jesus. Finally, Fang understands the dictum 'all may become a Yao or a Shun' (legendary emperors regarded as exemplary sages) as 'all may become Christ'.34 However, Yao and Shun were human beings, not gods, and thus fundamentally different from the second person of the Trinity. Comparisons between Confucianism and the Bible can tend to overemphasize correlations and ignore essential differences. One essay that transcends this temptation is an examination of the significance of heaven in Confucian classical texts by Ren Yanlin. In a survey of heaven in core classics such as The Book of Poetry [Shijing], The Book of Documents [Shujing], Book of Changes [Yijing], The Book of Rites [Liji] and the Spring and Autumn Annals [Chunqiu], the author distin-

guishes four elements to the term: a material tian, as opposed to the earth (sky, tiankong); an ethical tian, which is the highest truth in the cosmos (the principle of the cosmos, tianli); the personal tian which rules the cosmos (god of the heavens, tianshen), and the tian which controls man's fate (tianming).35 When Chinese scholars discuss the doctrine of the Logos in the Gospel of John, most of them begin their argumentation from Greek, Jewish or Chinese culture, and only then try to assess its unique aspects. John ascribes the Logos created and revealed by God to the Christ which entered history and became flesh, whereas 'Chinese philosophical thought either regards heaven as a personal God and the Dao as a primary principle, or takes the Dao to be a more fundamental reality than God, and an impersonal entity.'36 Logos (the Dao, in Chinese) is the core

Studying the New Testament in the Chinese Academic World


theological category in John's Gospel. After comparing translations of Logos (verbum in Latin) in the preface to the Gospel of John as Dao i t or sheng yan (M]=f holy word), and noting that Dao in Chinese thought incorporates the meaning of yan (words), Xie Fuya (1892-1992) suggested translating Logos as sheng dao (MM holy Word), to endow 'Dao' with the meaning of holiness, and with the hope of harmonizing Protestant and Catholic translations.37 This was an attempt to correlate Chinese thought with the translated term Dao used in the preface to the Gospel of John.38 The differences between the Logos in the preface to John's Gospel and the Dao in Chinese thought express themselves in differences between God becoming flesh and the impersonal principle, or law of the cosmos, between theological revelation from an initiating God and an ineffable entity (in the Daoist canon) or product of human moral thinking (in Confucian thought), between a Logos linking creation and salvation with the Dao which creates but does not save. The doctrine of God's Word becoming flesh, the special contribution of Johannine theology, is also an approach to understanding the world. As Jiang Peifen writes, in terms of the relationship between God and man, it expresses God's being with man; in terms of the relationship of the soul to the flesh, it expresses that Jesus' salvation is a salvation of the whole human; in terms of the relationship of the spiritual to the worldly, it expresses that God is related to the world through Jesus and that humanity should follow God's will in daily life; on the relationship between this life and the eternal life, it indicates that humans begin to have eternal life in this life because of believing in their union with Christ.39 These discourses understand metaphorically all kinds of relations in the world from the correlation of the Logos to the flesh, but we cannot overlook another approach based on distinctions between them. This understanding, exemplified in an article by Wang Weifan, reconsiders those various relationships in the light of Jesus' divinity in order to preserve the prophetic nature of Christianity, and its critical spirit towards the world.40 Liu Guangyao also considers the subject of the epistemological Word: from the starting-point of the relationship between being and beings, he probes the possible premises of human knowledge and the pre-structuring of Christian epistemology,41 and evaluates the epistemological suppositions of Daoism and Confucianism on beings, and of Buddhism on 'non-being7, and the dangers in Daoism of substituting human words for the ineffable Dao. Given that the object of salvation is humanity, an essential part of Chinese comparative studies is comparison of the concepts of the human and humanity in Chinese philosophy with writings in the New Testament. Having distinguished the T on a practical and metaphysical level, Wen Weiyao suggests that other-oriented salvation religions deny the former and affirm the latter as the subject of life activity. Faith in the other-oriented salvation (or salvation through the Other, tali #L^J) emphasized in the New Testament does not deny the existence of the ego and its activities. Wen notes that, in comparison with God, the capacity of fleshly human beings for knowledge and for performing tasks is limited. Relying on limited human abilities to reach the infinitude will result in


Zha Changping

the self-alienation of humanity.42 Apart from this comparison by Wen Weiyao of the Christian doctrine of human being with Chinese philosophy, Edwin Hui has also written on its comparison in Western humanist thinking.43 Zhang Xian has written on comparative ethics in the ancient Greek classics and the gospels, summarizing for readers the ethics of virtue in Greek culture: Plato's absolute value in ideas, Aristotle's golden mean, Stoic principles of apathy, and so on. Zhang points out that 'the ideal of the super good among the Greeks lies in the expression in a harmonious life of the exercise of reason, the way of the golden mean and selfcontrol';44 all of which cohere closely with classical Chinese thought. These sorts of ethics which pay attention to happiness in this life insist on 'the inseparability of religious spirituality and the body, and the ethic of love in caring for neighbours with mercy and compassion',45 stressing 'the purity in intentions of life, and attentive obedience to moral commandments'.46 The reason for this lies in the fact that the conception of God is rooted in moral purposes. While the ethics of the gospels belong to the theological sphere, the ethics of virtue pertain to the anthropological. This is the reason why the intelligentsia in China commonly laud Greek tradition and ignore Jewish tradition. Since there is no transcendental dimension of the relationship between man and God in Confucian ethics, the subject of Chinese culture is a humancentred one.

4. The perspective of the conception of language Various Chinese scholars have developed frameworks of thinking from Western disciplines and applied these in Chinese-language theological studies: two examples can be seen in the fields of rhetoric and narrative. Traditional biblical studies highlighted the structure of text and its relationship to textual fragments, and suggested that Bible language would lose significance if the biblical text departed from its circumstances of production and reception. Scripture has life only in connection with the concrete life-situations of readers, and these connections exist in the interactive dialogue between the text and the rhetorical functions of text, speaker and reader. Such is the conclusion of K.K. Yeo (Yang Keqin), in his introduction to the achievements of rhetorical criticism by scholars in the West.47 K.K. Yeo has written in detail on rhetoric in his Classical Rhetoric Graeco-Roman Culture and Biblical Interpretation,4^ and elsewhere on the

way in which Augustine Christianized the rhetoric of Cicero. In the volume on rhetoric, Yeo discusses the history and theory of classical rhetoric as a backdrop to the New Testament, and the interaction between the text of the New Testament and classical Greek and Roman, as well as Hebrew, cultures, and from this gradually builds up a theory of classical biblical interpretation. Yeo suggests that there are some particular characteristics of rhetoric in the New Testament which emerge in comparison with the style of argumentation in Graeco-Roman culture,

Studying the New Testament in the Chinese Academic World


and argues that New Testament rhetoric 'is not a presentation of truth, but a persuasive narrative proclamation. That which biblical narrative proclaims evokes faith, hope and love. The particularity of New Testament rhetoric lies in its relating the gospel of Christ, and in the purpose of the account, which is to build up and transform individuals, groups and society/49 Paul's rhetoric, as Yeo notes, is based on persuasiveness and adherence to gospel values, not on the foundations of logical argumentation of analysis and representation. Multicultural study on Pauline rhetoric has revised and expanded traditional theories of Graeco-Roman rhetoric from which the features of Christian biblical rhetoric are deduced. In an analysis of how Paul uses the different cultural perspectives between Jewish and Gentile Christians in 1 Cor. 10.1-22, Yeo sets out to discuss the principles of 'cross-cultural rhetorical hermeneutics'. He assumes that the relationship between God and humanity is general and universal, but God's revelation to man will suffer limitations of situation and culture. Because 'indigenous theology tries to speak out God's abiding presence and love through a cultural aspect, so trans-cultural interpretation will express the general and clear truth of God by various means, even miscellaneous and ambiguous situations'.50 In drawing on recent theories of rhetoric by K. Burke and Perelman, Yeo emphasizes the importance of exegetes' acceptance of each other in the process of commenting on the Bible. If we allow that features of New Testament rhetoric become apparent from a comparison of Graeco-Roman rhetoric with Hebraic, then Liang Gong's research into biblical narration employs a similar method. After introducing the categories of 'telling' and 'showing' in Western literary theory, Liang makes direct use of these two categories in observing and inferring from the Bible itself. As a means of characterization, for example, 'telling' in the biblical narrative 'intervenes in the plot with an omniscient perspective, and, in a tone which permits no doubt, consistently pronouncing judgement on whether characters are right or wrong, good or bad'.51 This telling includes 'the narrator's direct telling, narration in God's voice, indirect narration by other people (all of which comprise narration of character), together with the narration of characters' emotions, mental state and subjective intentions',52 as well as the narration of appearance and clothing. 'Showing', however, 'describes its objects not by way of direct judgement, but by using indirect description, and by revealing the object in a roundabout means, in order to let readers perceive and intuit the various aspects of the object of description'.53 Liang Gong's study is mainly based on the scriptural texts of the Old Testament, and it is difficult to demonstrate the same distinction between 'telling' and 'showing' in the New Testament letters, for example. Aside from his work on narrative, Liang Gong has also written articles on the concept of social justice in ancient Israelite history, on democracy, Jewish nationalism and internationalism.54


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5. The perspective of Christian theology Research into Christianity in the Chinese academic world, which has little tradition or perspective of Christian theology, lacks a vital element.

Chapter 7 of Edwin Hui's Introduction to Christian Theological Thinking

presents a rare example of a relatively comprehensive discussion on the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ on the basis of New Testament writings. Hui speaks of the divinity of Jesus in terms of Jesus as God's Son, Jesus Christ as Lord and as God himself, and discusses Jesus' humanity in terms of the virgin birth, and his experiences of physiological and psychological growth. Hui's study from 2001 introduces the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ according to biblical traditions maintained by the historic churches. The author presents his own thinking on the relationship between soteriology and christology, and criticizes excessive tendencies to reconstruct Christ's identity from soteriology, since these 'would reduce Christ to an event. Proclamation of Christ would then be replaced by proclamation of a Christ-event which had a soteriological content rather than by a redemptive personal God.'55 Taking Christ's resurrection as a touchstone, the author criticizes Bultmann's theology of the separation of the 'historical Jesus' from the 'Christ of faith', and his understanding of the gospel as the kerygma of Christians. He approves Pannenberg's historical understanding of the whole of human history from a historical endpoint, and the linking of this to salvation history.

6. Assorted subjects Several scholars have produced single articles or monographs on diverse topics, without there necessarily being research clusters in these fields in China. Wang Shenyin's paper on the 'Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran Community'56 is typical of 1980s research into how primitive Christianity was formed. Wang's study of the Serek hayyahad [the Rule of the Community, Manual of Discipline] in the Dead Sea Scrolls discusses ranks of membership, the structure of management and communal life in the community. In an article entitled 'The Dialogue on the Mount of Olives: its Logic of History and Consciousness of Redemption',57 Zha Changping suggests that the Dialogue on the Mount of Olives gives us a concrete approach for understanding historical logic in the gospels.58 Weng Shaojun has produced a paper on 'The Christology of Paul and its Content of Divinity';59 K.K. Yeo has worked on the eschatological theology of Paul and his work ethic;60 and various scholars have written on feminist theology, such as Hong Wen's Females in the Bible,61 or Wang Yi's 'Rereading the Bible: A Feminist Interpretation'.62

Studying the New Testament in the Chinese Academic World


Summary Christian studies in the Chinese academic world today needs a more balanced perspective: one which includes traditional theology, and which does not slavishly follow social science perspectives. From the viewpoint of other sciences, achievements have been made in Christian studies in the Chinese academic world, but gains in the area of biblical studies have been few, because most scholars have no professional discipline of theology and no biblical languages as their base. One outcome of this has been a tendency towards single-perspective research. Biblical studies in the Chinese academic world has characteristically focused more on christological or cross-cultural comparative perspectives than dimensions of biblical languages or social justice. Few scholars have made their research fields the synoptic gospels, the theology of Luke, the general epistles or the book of Revelation. Even studies of Christology mainly adopt a historical, or philosophy of theology perspective, rather than a theological one.

Notes 1. These journals included Jidujiao wenhua pinglun [Christian Cultural Review] 1990, Dao feng hanyu shenxue xuekan [Logos and Pneuma Chinese Journal of Theology] 1994 and Jidijiao wenhna xuekan [Journal for the Study of Christian Culture], 1999. 2. During the 1930s, Jia Yuming (1880-1964) published his Xibolaishu jiangyi [Lectures on Hebrews] (Shandong: North China Theological Seminary, 1926), but its influence was limited to contemporary seminaries. 3. Xu Rulei, 'Shenjing shifou fouding ren de jiazhi?' Jinling shenxue wenxuan [An Anthology of Jinling Theology from 1952 to 1992] (Nanjing: Jinling Union Theological Seminary, 1992), pp. 183-92. 4. See Ding Guangxun, 'Preface', Jinling shenxue wenxuan, p. 1. 5. Zhuo Xinping, 'Jidujiao yanjiu gaishuo' [Summary of Christian Studies], in Cao Zhongjian (ed.), Zhongguo zongjiao yanjiu nianjian 1996 [Annals of Chinese Religious Studies, 19%] (Beijing: Zhongguo Shehui Kexue, 1998), p. 282. 6. Zhu Weizi, Shengjing wenxue shierjiang [Twelve Lectures on Biblical Literature] (Beijing: Renrnin Wenxue, 1989); Jidujiao yu wenxue [Christianity and Culture] (Shanghai: Shanghai Shudian, 1992). Twelve Lectures on Biblical literature systematically introduces the history of the Hebrew people, the influence of biblical literatures East and West, the origin and content of the Bible, the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and the Dead Sea Scrolls to its readership, while Christianity and Literature discusses the relationship between Christianity and Jesus, the Bible, hymns, prayer and teaching, treating in detail the effects of Christianity on later poems, prose, novels and drama. 7. E.g. Wen Yong's Shengjing lice [A General Understanding of the Bible] (1992), Zhuo Xinping's Shengjing jianshang [An Appreciation of the Bible] (1992) or Cai Yongchun's Xinyue daodu [Introduction to the New Testament] (1992). 8. An exception is Bai Xiaoyun (ed.), Shengjing yuhui ddian [A Biblical Dictionary of Words] (Beijing: Zhongyang Bianyi), published in 2001, which presents an exegesis of the significance of frequently occurring or common words in the Bible and biblically related texts, listing sample verses and giving meanings in Hebrew or in Greek where pertinent The dictionary is, however, excessively brief in its introduction to contemporary theology, and serves only as a reference guide for the general reader or translator. The volumes and anthologies include Applied Hermeneutics and Catechism of Revelation in the


9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

16. 17.

18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24.



Zha Changping series Jidujiao wenhua yanjiu congshu [Christian Cultural Study] (Beijing: Zhongguo Wenshi, 2004). Leeb Leopold, Shengjing de yuyan yu sixiang [Biblical Language and Thought] (Beijing: Zongjiao Wenhua, 2000). Sun Yi, Shengjing Daodu [Introduction to the Bible] (Beijing: Renmin Daxue, 2005). Wen Yong, 'Shengjing yanjiu de yige wuqu' [A Missing Area in Biblical Studies], Shijie zongjiao ziliao [World Religion Data], 4 (1990): 53. Wen Yong, 'Shengjing yanjiu', p. 54. On philosophy, see Zhao Dunhua, 'Shengjing guannian de lishi yanbian' [Historic Development in Views on the Bible], in Zhao Dunhua (ed.), Jidujiao zhexue yiqian wubainian [1,500 Years of Christian Philosophy] (Beijing: Renmin, 1994). In Liu Xiaofeng (ed.), Geti xinyang yu wenhua Ittun [Individual faith and Cultural Theory] (Chengdu: Sichuan Renmin, 1997), pp. 369-404; Liang Gong, '"Yueboji" chuyi' [An Opinion on Job], Shijie zongjiao wenhua, 11 (1997): 28-31. Yong Fu, 'Shengjing de chengshu he banben' [On the formation and editions of the Bible] Shijie zongjiao ziliao 1 (1982): 37-40. Ji Shaofu, 'Jidujiao "Shengjing" de fanyi chuban' [Translated editions of the Christian Bible], Chuban shiliao [Publishing Documents], 4 (1987). Sun Yuchun, 'Tuolemi de dixin tixi bushi "Shengjing" de yuzhou guan' [Ptolomy's geocentric system is not the view of the universe in the Bible], Shijie zongjiao wenhua, 4 (1995): 19-26. E.g. Li Pingye 'Mading Lude de zongjiao gaige yu xinyue shengjing' [Martin Luther's Reformation and the New Testament], Shijie zongjiao yanjiu, 3 (1984): 113-21; Yang Huilin's '"Shengjing quanyi" yu zongjiao gaige' [Interpretation of the Bible and Reformation, According to the Viewpoint of Theological Hermeneutics], in Yidong de bianjie [Moving Boundaries] (Beijing: Zhongguo Da Baike Quanshu, 2002), pp. 227-37. Wu Qiulin,' "Shengjing" yuyan yanjiu' [Research on Parables in the Bible], Zaozhuang shifan zhuanke xuexiao xuebao [Journal of Zaozhuang Normal Institute], 1 (1988). See Liu Xiaofeng (ed.), Dao yu yan - Huaxia wenhua yu jidujiao wenhua xiangyu [Logos (Dao) and Word - the Encounter of Chinese Culture with Christian Culture] (Shanghai: Sanlian, 1995). Zhang Zhiyuan, 'Sheng ji qi jiazhi gaishuo' [The Bible and its Values], Hefei jiaoyu xueyuan xuebao [Journal for Hefei Normal College], 1 (1990): 63-70. Zhang's work covers archaeology, history, ethnology, religious studies and literature Wang Shenyin, "'Sihai gujuan" yu Kulan shituan' [Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran Community], Shijie zongjiao yanjiu, 2 (1980): 123-34. Xie Wenyu, 'Q fuyin yanjiu: gulao de xin xueke' [Study of Source Q: An Old New Science], Shijie zongjiao wenhua, 10 (1997): 30-6. Hu Yutang, 'Lishi shang de yesu' [Historical Jesus] Shijie zongjiao yanjiu, 1 (1981): 84100; Yan Changyou, 'Xiang chuantong de jidulun tiaozhan' [Challenging Traditional Christology], Shijie zongjiao ziliao, 1 (1982): 6-9. You Bin, 'Baoluo de shenxue renleixue ji qi shenxue huayu' [Paul's Theological Anthropology and its Theological Discourse], Jidu zongjiao yanjiu [Study of Christian Religion], 4 (2001): 4; Chen Heng, 'Wenhua de shizilukou: youtai zhuyi haishi xila zhuyi?' [The Crossroads of Culture: Judaism or Hellenism?], Guowai shehui kexue, 3 (2002). Xu Zhiwei (Edwin Hui), 'Weige yu ren: cong "Shengjing" guanzhao xifang renwen jingshen zhi renguan' [Person and Human Being: Looking Biblically at the Doctrine of Man in Western Humanistic Traditions], Jidujiao wenhua xuekan [Journal for the Study of Christian Culture], 8 (2002); Yang Huilin, 'Jiedu Shengyan' [Interpreting the Word], in Yidong de bianjie, pp. 149-71. Hu Yutang, Tishi shang de Jesu' [The Historical Jesus], Shijie zongjiao yanjiu, 1 (1981): 84-100.

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27. Hu Yutang, T h e Historical Jesus', pp. 86-7. 28. Hu Yutang, "The Historical Jesus', p. 90. 29. In his article 'Chulun yuansi jidujiao de yanbian ji qi biran xing' [On the Development of Primitive Christianity and its Necessity], Yu Ke expands the two images of Jesus into its double natures, Shijie zongjiao yanjiu, 2 (1986). 30. Yan Changyou, 'Yesu - chuanshuo zhong de xugou renwu' Qesus as a Mythological Man in Legend], Shijie zongjiao yanjiu, 2 (1983): 123. 31. Yan Changyou, 'Xiang chuantong de "Jidulun" tiaozhan' [Challenging Traditional Christology], Shijie zongjiao ziliao, 1 (1982): 6-9. The article, ed. and trans, by Yan Changyou, confuses the Church's image of Jesus with the biblical image of Jesus. 32. Li Qiuling, 'Yesu shi rune chengwei shende?', Shijie zongjiao wenhua, 11 (1997): 22-7. 33. l i Qiuling, 'Yesu shi ruhe chengwei shende?', p. 23. 34. Fang Zhirong (Mark Fang), 'Rujia sixiang de "Tian" yu "Shengjing" zhong de "Shangdi"' [A comparison of Heaven in Confucianism with God in the Bible], in Liu Xiaofeng (ed.), Logos (Dao) and Word, p. 520. 35. Ren Yanlin, 'Rujia de tiandao sixiang yu Baoluo zai "Yifusuo shu" zhong de shangdi jiaoyi de bijiao' [A comparison of Heaven in Confucianism with the Doctrine of God in Paul's Ephesians], Jidujiao wenhua pinglun [Christian Cultural Review], 1 (1990): 165. 36. Luo Zhenfang, 'Guanyu Yuehan fuyin "Daolun" de tantao' [On the doctrine of the Dao in the Gospel of John], An Anthology ofjinling Theology, p. 153. 37. Xie Fuya, 'Shengyan yu Dao de hehe' [Harmonizing the Word and the Dao], in Liu Xiaofeng (ed.), Logos (Dao) and Word, pp. 409-12. 38. See Zhang Ziyuan, 'Yuehan fuyin yinyan de "Dao" yu Zhongguo de Dao' [The Logos in the Preface to John's Gospel and Dao in China], in Liu Xiaofeng (ed.), Logos (Dao) and Word, pp. 420-1. 39. Jiang Peifen, T>ao chengle roushen' [The Word Became Flesh], An Anthology ofjinling Theology, pp. 13-21. 40. Wang Weifan, 'Dao zai zheli cheng wei roushen' [Here the Word became Flesh], An Anthology ofjinling Theology, p. 144. 41. Liu Guangyao, Jidujiao - zhishi lun de Luogesi' [Christianity: the Logos of Epistemology] in He Guanghu and Xu Zhiwei (eds), Duihua 2: Rushidao yu jidujiao [Dialogue 2: Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism and Christianity] (Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian, 2001), p. 299. 42. Wen Weiyao, 'Xinyue renxing lun' [On Humanity in the New Testament], Jidujiao wenhua xuekan 3 (1992 ). 43. Xu Zhiwei, 'Weige yu ren', p. 138. 44. Zhang Xian, Dexing he fuyin' [Virtue and the Gospel], Jidujiao wenhua xuekan, 13 (2005): 256. 45. Zhang Xian, Ttexing he fuyin', p. 257. 46. Zhang Xian, Ttexing he fuyin', pp. 266-7. 47. Khiok-khng Yeo (Yang Keqin), 'Xinyue xiuci jianbiexue chu tan' [Introduction to Rhetorical Criticism in the New Testament], Yanjing shenxue zhi [Yanjing Theological Review], 1 (2001): 88, 91-2. 48. Khiok-khng Yeo, 'Xisailuo yu Aogusiding de xiucixue' [Cicero's and Augustine's Rhetoric], Jidujiao Wenhua Pinglun, 9 (1999): 140; Gu xiuci xue - XiLuo wenhua yu shengjing quanshi [Classical Rhetoric in Graeco-Roman culture and Biblical interpretation] (Hong Kong: Hanyu Jidujiao wenhua yanjiusuo, 2003). 49. Khiok-khng Yeo, 'Shiyu Baoluo de xiuci jianbiexue' [The Rhetorical Criticism of the Apostle Paul], Jidujiao wenhua xuekan, 6 (2001): 54. 50. Khiok-khng Yeo, Kuawenhua xiuci quanshi xue chutan [Cross-Cultural Rhetorical Hermeneutics] (Hong Kong: Jiandao Shenxueyuan, 1995), p. 60. 51. Liang Gong, 'Shengjing xushi zhong de jiangshu he xianshi' [Telling and Showing in Biblical Narration], Jidujiao wenhua xuekan, 12 (2004): p. 196.


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52. Liang Gong, 'Shengjing xushi', p. 200. 53. Liang Gong, 'Shengjing xushi', p. 202. 54. Liang Gong, 'Shilun "Shengjing" de minzhu guannian' [On Perspectives on Democracy in the Bible], in He Guanghu and Xu Zhiwei (eds), Duihua, 2; Liang Gong: 'Jianlun "Shengjing" de youtai minzu zhuyi yu shijie zhuyi' [On Jewish nationalism and cosmopolitism in the Bible], Jidujiao wenhua xuekan, 8 (2002). 55. Edwin Hui, Jidujiao shenxue sixiang daolun [An Introduction to Christian Theological Thought] (Beijing: Shehui Kexue, 2001), p. 178. 56. Wang Shenyin, 'Sihai gujuan', pp. 123-34. 57. Zha Changping, 'Ganlanshan duihua de lishi luoji ji qi jiushu yishi', Daofeng jidujiao wenhua pinglun, 19 (2003): 127-51. 58. Cf. Zha Changping, 'Yuehan shenxue de yuyanguan yu shijian guan' [Conceptions of Language and Time in Johannine Theology], Zongjiaoxue yanjiu, 4 (2005). 59. Weng Shaojun, 'Baoluo jidulun ji qi shenxing neirong', Jidujiao wenhua xuekan, 2 (1999); Zha Changping, 'Baoluo shenxue de yuyanguan yu shijian guan' [Conceptions of Language and Time in Pauline Theology], Zongjiaoxue yanjiu, 3 (2006). 60. Khiok-khng Yeo, 'Baoluo de moshi shenxue' [Paul's Eschatological Theology], Jidujiao wenhua xuekan, 3 (2000); Khiok-khng Yeo, 'Lun Tiesanluonijia shuxin de moshi ji gongzuo guan' [On Eschatology and Doctrines of Work in 1 Thessalonians], Yanjing shenxue zhi, 1 (2000): 70-6. 61. Hong Wen (ed.), Shenjing zhong de mixing [Females in the Bible] (Kunming: Yunnan Renmin, 1995). 62. Wang Yi, 'Chongdu "shengjing" - yizhong mixing zhuyi de quanshi', Jidujiao wenhua xuekan, 5 (2001): 59-84.

Part 2 Chinese Biblical Hermeneutics

6 Competing Tensions: A Search for May Fourth Biblical Hermeneutics Sze-kar Wan When the evangelical devotional writer Chen Chonggui (1883-1963), or Marcus Cheng as he is known in the West, was commenting on the book of Judges in his popular Daily Meditation, he came across the heroic figure of Samson. Samson was clearly not one of his favourite characters, as is evident from his comments: From [Samson's story] we can see that if one is to save the nation, to serve society, one must first lay a foundation of personal morals and personal faith. In these twenty odd years, China is like someone who has said all the good words but done all the bad deeds - all resulting in the utter collapse in our foreign affairs and the harsh living conditions at home. The root cause is that those who presume to save our nation and serve society have lost their personal faith. Their personal morals are bankrupt and their personal behaviour is like Samson's. So how can they accomplish what Moses accomplished? Today some launched the New Life Movement for the same reason, but we pray that God would open our leaders' eyes, so they would know we have new life only when Jesus gives us new life.1 This comment reveals much of Chen's hermeneutical assumptions. He explicitly tied the national malaise of the Israelites to Samson's moral turpitude, presumably as exemplified in his choices of female companions Qudg. 16.1, 4). It is not difficult to see that what influenced Chen's harsh judgement of the biblical hero were the events of his own days such as May Fourth nationalism and anti-imperialism, the New Life movement of the Guomindang, the talk of national salvation among Chinese intellectuals. He assumed that the meaning of the biblical text had to do not so much with doctrinal matters as with moral and ethical matters. Correspondingly, he focused less on understanding the text than on practising what was supposed to be self-evident in the text. For Chen as well as a host of Chinese Protestant commentators during this period, the hermeneutical gap between text and interpreter was not intellectual but ethical. A hermeneutical task thus formulated differs significantly from that of the West. Interpretation, it is said, is not the objective, scientific exercise that we have been conditioned to see it as. Instead, in the reading of any 97


Sze-kar Wan

text, especially a classical text, the interpreter is ineluctably trapped in his or her own subjectivity and horizons, so much so that the final interpretation cannot but bear some resemblance to the interpreter's preconceived concerns and questions - namely, his or her 'preunderstanding' (Vorverstandnis). Interpretation is therefore not an acceptance of something ready made, as if one could passively receive meaning and significance from the text, but requires the interpreter's active participation in and engagement with the text. In this hermeneutical encounter (for that is what interpretation is existentially), the interpreter interrogates the text with questions emanating from his or her own concerns. But equally the text has the capacity to force the interpreter to modulate the starting questions as the text reasserts its own limits and discloses its own horizons. In the end, after a process of give-and-take between reader and text, understanding is achieved only when the interpreter is satisfied that the initial enquiries have received some form of answers, even if the initial questions have long been irrevocably altered. Such a view of hermeneutics assumes, first of all, that the objective of interpretation has to do with, and only with, satisfying the questions of the interpreter. It models itself after a dialogue in which the conversation partners question each other, thereby establishing a pattern of concerns, a special syntax of the conversation. It aims at finding the right language for the interrogator, even if that very language is at the end modified. It is therefore no accident that such metaphors as 'language game', 'dialogical imagination', 'fusion of horizons' abound in hermeneutical theories of the West. In such a hermeneutical tradition, 'understanding' is the dominant goal. Secondly, such a theory originated in the West and is sustained by an automatic but unexamined supposition that both theorists and interpreters are situated in the West. It looks to a supposedly continual, unbroken tradition that emanates from the text through generations of interpreters and ends with the modern interpreter. It assumes that both text and interpreter reside in the same hermeneutical pond, so that the text might reverberate until all interpreters are washed over in its wake. This I take to be the essence of what Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer meant by Wirkungsgeschichte, clumsily translated as 'effective history' in English, which forms the indispensable precondition for the interpreter's reading of an ancient text 2 But is such a hermeneutical theory able to account fully for the case of May Fourth Chinese Protestants, who were steeped in Chinese culture, reading a thoroughly foreign text like the Christian Bible? Can we use 'understanding' to describe the goal with which Chinese Protestant writers approached the biblical text, even if we stretch the meaning of the term to its breaking-point? Is it not more natural to assume that they read the Bible as they would a Chinese classic, namely, for the sake of selftransformation, moral cultivation, discovering ethical injunctions or 'constituting the body and establishing destiny' (anshen liming :£cJf 3//dfr)? Moreover, did Chinese Protestant writers from the May Fourth to the conclusion of the civil war in 1949 stand in an unbroken effective history within the Western biblical tradition? Is it not more natural, again, to

Competing Tensions: A Search for May Fourth Biblical Hermeneutics 99

assume that they tend to read the Bible in a particular cultural milieu that more often than not was an amalgam of Western culture and their own traditional Chinese upbringing? This essay surveys the writings of five Protestant authors. It is partly dependent on a collaborative project on May Fourth Chinese hermeneutics some years ago that surveyed the writings of Chen Chonggui, Jia Yuming (1880-1964), Ni Tuosheng or Watchman Nee (1903-72), Wu Leichuan (1870-1944), as well as Zhao Zichen, better known in the West as T.C Chao (1888-1979).3 These five writers spanned the theological and social spectrum, ranging from the mercurial preacher and founder of the Little Flock Ni Tuosheng to the influential devotional writer Chen Chonggui, both broadly 'conservative' in theological conviction but vastly different in temperament; continuing with the highly respected biblical writer Jia Yuming who toiled for decades over his still-popular commentaries on the Old and New Testament; and finally ending with the distinguished Zhao Zichen and the controversial Wu Leichuan, colleagues at the American-run Yenching University representing the liberal approach, though they eventually parted company over the interpretation of Jesus. These five writers could not be more different from each other. They represent different theological and church backgrounds. They wrote with vastly different assumptions about the authority of the Bible, with correspondingly different interpretations of the text. Ni saw the Holy Spirit as the real author of the biblical text, so the only way to probe the depths of the text is through the illumination of the Spirit. Zhao, on the other hand, while acknowledging the divine character of the Bible, saw it more as history, an account of how early Christians experienced the divine. He therefore suggested that readers mine the Bible for accounts of such experiences, all the more to emulate them. These same writers also held contrasting views on the social and national ills of the time and offered diverse solutions. Jia and Chen both thought spiritual renewal would lead to national salvation. Their diagnosis of the problems in China was moral degeneration. Wu, by contrast, thought China so structurally corrupt that only an enlightened new kingdom, such as the one Jesus brought to downtrodden Judah, could save China. He opted for a socialist vision that he insisted had originated with Jesus the revolutionary. Given these differences, we would expect the five authors to express their views in different genres. Zhao was a well-known theological writer who made forays into biblical writings. Jia was one of the best-known biblical commentators of his time whose works were used as standard texts for generations of pastors in training. Ni and Chen wrote devotional tracts aimed at lay readers. Wu, true to his academic background, wrote avant-garde disquisitions aimed at his fellow-intellectuals.


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Ni Tuosheng Among the most conservative, and certainly one of the most controversial, writers was Ni Tuosheng, founder of the Little Flock and advocate of the Restoration movement (fuynan yundong'&WMWS).In his Meditations on the Book of Revelation, Ni severely criticized the churches past and present and called on the Church to return to the pristine vision of the Bible. Ni was motivated by the strong anti-denominationalism of John Nelson Darby, Ni's spiritual predecessor and founder of Dispensationism. But whereas Darby used the argument to reject the Church of England of his days, Ni used it to reject all Protestant denominations, indeed all churches throughout the ages. All, according to Ni, had been corrupt from the start, even those founded by the Apostles Paul and Peter, and all had deviated from the truth of Scripture. The only solution was a return to the biblical truth. Since Scripture was Ni's final court of appeal, his use of it reveals a number of his hermeneutical assumptions. His favourite exegetical technique was to interpret the text by 'narrow construction' (Darby's term), meaning that if something is not in the Bible it cannot be legitimate. While countless theological positions throughout the history of Christianity held such a view, Ni was unique in his thoroughness in applying that principle to churches of all stripes. Because, so goes his argument, the New Testament contains none of the dogmas, rituals, polities prevalent in contemporary Protestant or Catholic churches, they must all be unbiblical. The Bible is the Supreme Court. Whatever the Bible ordains, we have absolutely no right to suspect. What the Holy Spirit knows to be the church's correct structure is already completely and perfectly revealed in the Bible. Some in the church actually think that the church structure as revealed in the Bible is rather primitive and that there ought to be a more perfect structure in the evolving church today - isn't that just following the path of the Roman Church? Isn't it just the arrogance of worldly people despising the will of God?4 Behind this statement is an assumption that the Bible is the full and comprehensive revelation of God complete in itself. One would have no need for anything outside the Bible. What is not sanctioned and explicitly permitted in the Bible must be wrong by definition. Ni posited a clear demarcation between biblical revelation and culture and allowed for no common ground between the two. This understanding of the Bible can be illustrated by his emphasis on the 'special path' (tebie daolu #$Jiti£&), through which the Church can be 'restored to the principles of God'. The phrase 'special path' was originally Darby's, but in Ni's usage it is almost synonymous with 'special revelation'. In criticizing those who wanted to revive the apostolic Church, Ni wrote: All these [movements] failed after the revival, mainly because they did not understand that God in these failures of churches had

Competing Tensions: A Search for May Fourth Biblical Hermeneutics 101

instituted a special path. Many of these people wanted to organize apostolic churches when today we have no apostles. That is why they failed. Really, there cannot be too many who truly want to return to the primitive church. (No wonder, because it is impossible!)5 In other words, Ni did not want to rebuild a church with apostolic organization and structure (Ni learned his Dispensationism from Darby well); rather, he was advocating a privileged understanding of the Church that only he and the elect could recognize. Somehow, and here Ni was less than forthcoming, he claimed to have been able to abstract principles or a general spirit that could serve as guide for the Church. He called this revelation a 'special reception7 (tebie lingshou #]3!l$i3£). When Ni Tuosheng claimed 'special reception' and insisted that he alone knew what the Bible was aU about, he was unwittingly using the Qumran covenanters' strategy. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls were biblical commentaries (e.g. lQpHab and other Pesharim) based on precisely such a view: namely, no one ever understood the deeper, true meanings of the text since its inception, not even the prophets themselves, who were no more than God's mouthpieces. They prophesied, but with no understanding. The Bible was to them a 'mystery' (raz in Hebrew), a hidden code, the key to which had been hidden for generations until it was finally revealed in this end-time to the privileged few, among whom was the mysterious Teacher of Righteousness, who inscribed the 'correct' interpretation for the protection of the elect from the corrupt world. So, just as God revealed the special meaning of the text in the last days to the Teacher of Righteousness, Ni thought the Holy Spirit was now disclosing 'fresh new truths' to the Church: [The Holy Spirit] often takes out from the treasure chest many fresh and forgotten truths, in order to test whether or not his people respect his words and confess his position (diwei Jfefe). The old and well-known truth might not have much of an impact on the conscience. [But] new and fresh truth compels new and fresh confessions. The new and fresh price is perhaps very high: to demand those who receive him to oppose the tides of their days, to separate themselves from the flotsam of the world.6 Ni obviously had not borrowed from Qumran hermeneutics, especially since the Dead Sea Scrolls would not be discovered for a few more decades. The source of Ni's hermeneutical assumptions was in any case not the West: Darby's Dispensationism looked decidedly different from his, and Ni was not in the habit of paying his debt to anyone, not even Darby. Instead, is it possible that Ni's claim that he knew what the Bible was all about stemmed from the traditional Confucian confidence in the lightness of the Dao? Confucian orthodoxy was always presented as a rediscovery of the lost way, but is in fact, like any other ideology, a construct imposed on the control of symbolic resources. Thus, when Confucius decried that the world had lost its true way (tianxia wudao ^TMiS), he was making


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more than just a value-free judgement on moral laxity and ritual negligence; he was also advancing a particular ethical standard - namely the ritual of the Zhou - and a particular ritual purity for the sake of governance. When Han Yu proposed the notion of 'orthodoxy' (daozong M$t literally, unification of the Dao) to recover long-lost ways, it was his way of defining a particular stream of Confucian tradition to the exclusion of all others. Thus also Zhu Xi in his preface to the Zhongyong, claiming that the long-neglected way of Zisi and Mengzi can now be recaptured in this chapter of the Liji [Classic of Ritual].7 In $11 these cases, a recovery of orthodoxy or the true way is followed by a hermeneutical shift, but not vice versa. In other words, there was always a prior discovery of the lightness of the Dao before any hermeneutical commitment. When we apply these insights to the biblical interpretation of Ni Tuosheng, it is not difficult to see that notwithstanding his explicit statements about the infallibility of scripture, operating in the background is a metatext, a super vision that imposes on the text a layer of meaning inaccessible from the text alone. Hence his emphasis on the 'fresh and forgotten truth' that the Spirit could use to elicit 'new and fresh confessions'. Spirit, which in the history of Christianity has always maintained an uneasy tension with scripture, was for Ni the warrant for the way he read the text, not the other way around. Thus, in spite of his self-proclaimed high view of scripture, the biblical text might well not be his 'Supreme Court' but, rather, the 'special path' revealed to him by the Spirit. Reasons for Ni's hyper-Darbyism might be various, but is it possible that, inter alia, Ni found in Darby an anti-Western tool that was based on the Bible, the very book brought, ironically, by Westerners themselves? If this hypothesis can be substantiated, what Ni was engaged in was nothing short of rewriting history, or salvation history to be exact, in order to sever the Church of China (read his Church) from its historical ties to the West. The narrow schema of salvation history had incurred a great deal of ire from Chinese Christians of all theological persuasions, what with drawing a straight line from the Early Church to Europe and, now, to Asia and China. Such a narrative privileged European powers, making them guarantor and propagator of the gospel to non-European nations and subordinating non-Western churches to Mother Church. Ni here followed the same instinct, but he did so by using Darby's criticism of the institutional Church of England to dismiss all (read Western) churches. Is it possible that his insistence on returning to the Bible was at least partly an attempt to bypass 2,000 years of non-Chinese history? If this is true, it would explain why Ni reserved his harshest vitriol for the Roman Catholic Church, whose authority resided not v$th the Bible but with a church tradition located in the Imperial West. Such an ecclesiology could afford Ni no independent vantage-point to reject the institution. Surely the bitter disputes between Chinese Protestants and Catholics might have something to do with it, but that the Bible had a higher status among Protestants gave Ni not only an invaluable tool to

Competing Tensions: A Search for May Fourth Biblical Hermeneutics 103

decentralize and deconstruct the West, but also afirmtextual foundation to create the new Chinese Church ex nihilo. It would appear that Ni's efforts were part of his search for a Chinese Church identity. Such a theory would help explain why Ni, perhaps also all five authors surveyed here, opposed denominationalism. The proliferation of diverse denominations, with their bewildering array of liturgies, mutually contradictory theological options, and an endless variety of polities, all reminded the Chinese Christians how Western their religion was, and how much Chinese Christians were divided by antiquated disputes with which they had nothing to do, of which they knew nothing and for which they could muster no sympathy.

Jia Yuming Jia Yuming shared with Ni a disdain for the world outside the Church, an attitude that led him to speak selfconsciously only to fellow Protestants, and reflected little on the political upheavals outside the Church. That was perhaps not surprising, since both Jia and Ni were influenced by Darby's Dispensationism which posited the current world as so hopelessly corrupt that it would soon be replaced by the reign of Christ. Still, it is revealing to read Jia's criticism of denominationalism: There should be no denominations in the church, either Catholicism or Protestantism. The church can be with or without life, either spiritual or unspiritual. There should be no special promotion for either the local church or the unification of churches. What is truly important is the church of Christ in which Christ walks, the church that is the body of Christ, the church that is the bride of Christ, the church that glories Christ. Amen.8 Might there not also be here, just as in the case of Ni, an attempt to rediscover the Chinese character and identity of Chinese Protestantism? If that were true, was Jia, in tying his anti-denominationalism and his ecclesiology so closely together, making a further claim, one he might or might not have been conscious of: namely that the Church could be the vehicle of the reformation of Chinese society? Jia Yuming, voluminous commentator and longtime Professor of Bible at the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, proposed 'perfect salvation'

(zvanquan jiuen juikWiM) - hence the title of his summa theologica - as the

hermeneutical key to unlock the mystery of the Bible. 'Perfect salvation' is a theological system, a form of salvation history: 'The key message of the entire Bible is salvation: namely, the perfect salvation that God has prepared for all humanity. Jesus is the centre and the cross the subject. The Old Testament culminates in the cross, and the New Testament originates from the cross.'9 There is nothing particularly revealing about this statement, nothing that has not been flogged to death by generations of theologians. What makes it uniquely Chinese, however, is the way in which 'salvation' is made into a category of personal cultivation. Jia accomplished this by, first, reworking the doctrine of inspiration


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into a divine-human synergy. To Jia, the Bible is coauthored by the Spirit of God and human authors. For example, Jesus has to work with the five loaves and two fish handed to him by the disciples, thus demonstrating that even the divine must work with the human.10 The Bible displays the same duality. Its joint authorship guarantees that its message is not only divine and revelatory but also relevant and adaptable to the common human experience. In the words of John Yieh, 'The Spirit of God and human authors work together to reveal God's love and God's will just as the two natures of divinity and humanity are mysteriously integrated in the heart of a born-again Christian and indeed in Jesus Christ the incarnate Son of God.'11 In other words, the inspirational character of scripture determines for Jia not only how the text was written but also how it is to be appropriated - by /born-again' Christians. Just as the Holy Spirit inspired the biblical authors by revealing to them what they did not know (moshi Ifc;^), making plain what they knew only imperfectly (xianshi SITF), or moving them to obey the commandments of God (mogan IKS), the same Spirit today inspires readers, provided they are Isorn-again'. In this homology, Jia's 'perfect salvation' becomes both a reading strategy and a programme for spiritual and moral cultivation. Jia's 'spiritual interpretation' (lingyi jiejing WLMf$&) bears superficial resemblance to the tripartite anagogic interpretation of medieval Europe or the allegorical method of Philo Judaeus. But while his European and Jewish counterparts worked within the two-tiered ontology of middle- and Neoplatonism, Jia's hermeneutics seems much closer to the NeoConfucian (particularly the Lu-Wang School) understanding of the classics as guide for moral cultivation.12 According to Jia, 'in order to understand the spiritual meaning of the biblical text and comprehend the mystery of the spiritual world', one's rational faculties must first be spiritualized (lixing lingxing hua S t t i l t t t t * ) and one's reason must undergo a 'baptism by the Holy Spirit'. Then, and only then, can the reader gain common sense as well as spiritual wisdom. 'Perfect salvation', therefore, is actually a spiritual discipline that readers of the Bible must practise everyday, so that they can be 'spiritualized'. Jia did not demand his readers to take flight into another dimension or another world, as would Western allegorists, but rather situated them squarely in this world, for the here and now is the proper locus for moral cultivation and transformation.13

Chen Chonggui The Confucian assumptions about the self and the classics detected in Jia Yuming are found in full bloom in the writings of Chen Chonggui, another theological conservative and a well-known pastor, theological educator and devotional writer. Over a period of some 20 years during wartime China, Chen composed a series of devotional readings under the collective title, The Spiritual Devotion Daily Refreshed. Chen had high

regard for the Bible, which to him was a special book, different from all

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others. Echoing Jia, Chen also maintained that the Bible was written only for born-again Christians, since only born-again Christians could have the competence to study and understand it properly.14 Accordingly, no one could read the Bible rationally as if it were just one book among many; one must read it devotionally and piously. The real author of the Bible is the Holy Spirit; only the Spirit could illumine the readers and lead them to a deeper and higher understanding. Chen's similarities to Jia are evident enough.15 In one respect Chen resembles his radical contemporary Ni Tuosheng - his unspoken assumption that he knew what the Bible was all about. Chen, almost alone among his conservative colleagues, was open to using historical criticism. The method had been rejected by conservatives who saw it as a challenge to biblical authority. Chen, though, thought of himself as an openminded enquirer, for whom historical and archaeological research would demonstrate rather than question the reliability of the Bible. Nevertheless, according to Chen, if new findings turned out to conflict with the biblical accounts, 'I would still believe in the biblical records/16 Even if one could not determine the historical values of the period before the kings of Israel and Judah, he said, 'that would not detract from the ethical and spiritual value of the Bible'. Like Ni, Chen displayed supreme confidence in the rectitude of the Bible that no amount of scholarly doubts could shake. Chen, like Ni, used Christian categories to articulate this position: the Bible is God-breathed, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and so on. But one has the impression that these are more justification for a prior faith in the Bible than root cause for confidence. Whereas in the modern West the status of the Bible is affirmed only if it conforms to reason, in Chen and Ni there is an unshakable confidence in the Bible and in one's ability to grasp its inner truth that goes beyond Christian confession. While one might attribute this confidence to Christian faith, one must also examine a deep-seated cultural assumption that the classics provide an all-encompassing guide for cultivation, life in family and society, even political involvement. As this cultural type about the classics creates an expectation, Chen and Ni fulfils the type with the Bible. For Chen and Ni, the Bible is Bible only when it is also a sheng jing, a 'holy or sagely classic'. Nowhere was this as evident as when Chen argued that the Bible must be used in people's everyday life. 'Understanding' cannot mean just intellectual grasp of the text; there can be no real 'understanding' of the text unless one applies it to real life. The very purpose of studying the Bible and the goal of exegesis is to apply biblical teaching to everyday life: When one studies the Bible and feels that one has sinned, one must confess and ask for forgiveness. When one studies the Bible and finds out God's command, one must pray for strength from God to follow it. When one studies the Bible and discovers God's promise, one must pray for faith to accept it.17


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In other words, the Bible as jing could be efficacious only if it could ultimately produce personal transformation and moral refinement. Readers of the Bible could relate to the text only in so far as the text could affect their daily lives. In simultaneously stressing the ethical demands of Bible reading and devaluing Bible reading as intellectual comprehension, Chen might be open to the charge of the obscurantism of Western fundamentalism. But is Western fundamentalism sufficient to explain his reading strategy? No doubt, Western fundamentalism provided Chen the language, of which authority of the Bible was key, but American fundamentalism of the early twentieth century was far more concerned with the purity of doctrines than with daily moral refinement. Chen, by contrast, took ethical behaviour to be a natural outgrowth of Bible reading. Moral transformation was seen as the only legitimate appropriation of the Bible. Chen's Confucian assumptions about the Bible become explicit in his Daily Meditation. In 1 Tim. 5.8 ('And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever'; NRSV), Chen found justification for the progression from self to cosmos. According to this schema, the self stands at the centre of a series of concentric circles that encompass, in order: family, Church, society, state and, finally, the world.18 That this was modelled after the four steps of self-cultivation, rectification of family, governance of country, and bringing peace to all under heaven of the Great Learning (Da xue ^ ^ ) needs no elaboration. The only modification is the insertion of Church between family and society, which given what we know about Chen, would indicate a formulation of the Church as a super-family superimposed on kinship-based families. When he was later deeply troubled by the series of political and social crises, Chen decisively left the fundamentalism of his earlier days. He ascribed to the self an agency of transformation, and started to advocate a programme of 'national salvation by Christianity'.19 With it, Chen formulated a spirituality that progressed from personal piety to family integration to church renewal and finally to national salvation. Chen did not stop at the level of personal piety, which in Confucian terms was nothing less than 'inner sageliness' (nei shengftj§?), but included also a social and national extension unparalleled in the West: an involvement that he himself termed 'outer kingliness' (zvai wang ^h3E). His high regard for the Bible did not prevent him from imposing a Confucian interpretation; in fact, his scriptural interpretation might well have furnished him a sure platform on which to erect an ethical interpretation that was Confucian in character and nationalistic in application. Such a view was no doubt developed in the context of strife and grave disappointments in China during and after the May Fourth events. Earlier in life, Chen seemed uninterested in political matters, preferring the private confines of a narrow, personalistic spirituality, but evidently the Sino-Japanese War and the ensuing civil war between the Guomindang and the communists broke into Chen's theological consciousness. To his credit, he met the challenge and turned his daily meditation into calls for responsible Christian citizenship. His approach

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to the social and political ills of China was clearly Christian, but his theology and his biblical exegesis increasingly reflected self-conscious Confucianization. He called, for example, for 'the evangelization \fuyinhua JMHik] of China as the prerequisite for the modernization of China', thus integrating traditional evangelical theology with a Confucian sense of social and political responsibility. Likewise, his statement, 'finding God's will in the wailing of the people', went way beyond Western fundamentalism; rather it echoed Mencius, or even Chen's May Fourth contemporary and co-founder of the Chinese Communist Party, Chen Duxiu. Wu Leichuan While conservatives like Chen Chonggui and Ni Tuosheng had to reconcile the tension between Christian doctrine of scripture and traditional Confucian hermeneutics, no such problem troubled the Hanlin scholar-turned-Christian writer and educator, Wu Leichuan, who was their polar opposite in the theological spectrum. In his Christianity and Chinese Culture, Wu the Neo-Confucian singled out the self or character {renge A^&), in particular the character of Jesus, as the key to national salvation. Wu never received any formal theological education and never felt constrained by the grammatical meaning of the biblical text. So it was not surprising that he carried out a thoroughgoing Confucian interpretation of the Bible with liberal help from the classics. What was surprising, though, was his socialist leaning, which prompted him to portray Jesus as a revolutionary keen on realizing a Marxist egalitarian vision. With these efforts Wu turned the religious and mystical world of the biblical text into a manual for self-cultivation and social reform, and in that process he decisively transformed the Bible into a Chinese jing. Wu began with national salvation, and subjected all things, including his biblical interpretation, to that concern. For example, since it should be an individual's highest goal to sacrifice self for others, especially for the country, service for others should be regarded as the essence of religion. Religion, in turn, must serve society by reforming and transforming it; it must therefore rid itself of the mystical and the fantastical to accomplish that purpose. Biblical interpretation should be no exception: it must serve the purpose of promoting social transformation. Wu displayed remarkable consistency in his reinterpretation of the biblical text. In the gospels, of paramount importance to Wu was Jesus' personality or character. Jesus, contrary to the creeds, was not divine but thoroughly human. Only as a human, flawed and limited by a finitude shared by all mortals, would Jesus need to develop his character into greatness by relentless exertion of self-effort. An already perfect character could admit of no improvement, and if he had attained perfection without any self-effort, he could not have been worthy of our emulation or veneration.


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As regards the birth of Jesus, there are many mythological legends in the Gospels, but humanly speaking his father was Joseph, his mother was Maria, and his home was Nazareth of Galilee. Joseph was a carpenter, making his livelihood through menial labour. In spite of such humble beginnings, Jesus was nevertheless able to achieve an exalted character in such an environment. But it is for this very reason that he is worthy of our veneration and imitation. We must, therefore, attend to how Jesus was human (wei ren ^ A ) . Even if he had been endowed with divine authority, we need not pay it much heed.20 What was truly divine about Jesus, therefore, was not the divine nature he supposedly was born with but his relentless striving - as a human. In Wu's hand, Christ was no longer the God-man of the Nicene Creed but one who through self-effort became sagely. It was on the shoulder of such a man that transformation of the world and salvation of China would rest. Jesus' self-cultivation took place through his prayers, for prayer to Wu was not a form of mysticism but a practice for spiritual and moral selftransformation. To Wu it was no different from the Neo-Confucian notion of self-cultivation (xiushen j^M) that included character formation and moral exertion. Prayer should be seen as Zhu Xi's 'reverence7 (jing ffl) or Wang Yangming's 'quietude' {jing if). The Lord's Prayer was interpreted as a blueprint for social transformation, whose aim was to establish the Kingdom of heaven on earth, for in the prayer one could find the fundamental conditions and concealed intentions of an ideal society. Even rebirth received a socialist interpretation: it was the consequence of moral cultivation and the precondition for social reform. Through self-cultivation Jesus became the revolutionary reformer that he was. The Church was seen as a collection of followers of Jesus but not the Kingdom of heaven itself. The Church should therefore be entirely thisworldly, and its responsibilities must include taking part in building a just society on earth. As far as Wu's biblical hermeneutics was concerned, he saw the Bible as a Confucian jing. His reading was governed by the Confucian dictum, 'inner sageliness, outer kingliness', and the whole text was treated as a manual for self-cultivation and cosmic transformation - except that selfcultivation now took on the form of prayer. Cosmic transformation was reinterpreted as a socialist vision that could save China from all its ills. Consequently, Wu was not the least bit interested in discovering the world of demons and spirits in the gospels, nor did he feel the urge to allegorize the text to arrive at some otherworldly truth. He was content with what he considered to be the literal meaning of the text, provided it was interpreted in the context of Neo-Confucian self-cultivation and Marxist utopianism. Behind all these efforts, however, was an unspoken and unacknowledged assumption that he knew what the Bible was all about. He had supreme confidence in the lightness of his vision and therefore the lightness of his biblical interpretation. For Wu, as well as most of the authors surveyed in this study, one

Competing Tensions: A Search for May Fourth Biblical Hermeneutics 109

might well ask what gave these writers such assurance. On what basis did they cany out their interpretation when, especially in the case of Wu, their results deviated so sharply from the accepted interpretations of the West? Wu's interpretive moves bore superficial resemblance to the American social gospel, which greatly influenced his American-educated colleagues at Yenching University and the Life Fellowship (Shengming She). But the much deeper influence was Wu's own Confucian background and his concerns for national salvation. Such was at least the verdict of his younger Yenching colleague Zhao Zichen.21 Wu denied the divinity of Jesus, not so much because it was not believable in the light of May Fourth scientism, but because a merely divine Jesus could not exemplify for us his struggle to perfect his own character. For Wu, perfecting one's character was the most urgent task that confronted every Chinese concerned with national salvation. It was one area in which Christianity could contribute in a way that Confucianism could not. In this regard, Wu was not all that different from Chen Chonggui, in that both insisted on transcending concerns for one's spirituality to develop one's moral character. Both pinned their hopes of national salvation on moral self-transformation. Even though the two could not be farther apart in their views of Bible and hermeneutical assumptions, their underlying concern to move from the spiritual to the moral and ultimately to national salvation turned out to be identical.

Zhao Zichen Zhao Zichen was without any doubt the best-known and most accomplished of the five authors surveyed here. Because of his Western training, he was also the most nuanced. A leader in the Chinese National Christian Conference, co-chair of the World Council of Churches, he was arguably the greatest theologian the Chinese Protestant Church has ever produced.22 He wrote voluminously: theological writings in both Chinese and English, not to mention numerous poems, hymns, prayers and other translated works. He published his Life of Jesus in 1935, in which he attempted a study of Jesus' character. But in a scathing review of Wu's Christianity and Chinese Culture, he criticized Wu for having distorted the religion of Jesus and for confusing Confucianism with Christianity. That was when he formally rejected the possibility of perfection by self-effort: Wu is a Confucian and he wishes to adapt Christian values and Jesus' teachings to Confucian teachings. He therefore cannot help changing the progressive, risky religion of Jesus into an insouciant, subtle Confucianism. [Being a Confucian] Wu ... cannot detect that there is in Jesus' thoughts a new quality born out of the communion between God and humanity. And this is fundamentally different from a Confucianism that is bound up with human action.23 Here Zhao posited a gulf between God and humanity and was persuaded that humanity was in need of salvation from the outside.


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What made Christianity distinct, to Zhao, was Jesus, the bridge between the divine and the human or, in his words, 'the communion between God and humanity'. To preserve the distinctive feature of Christianity therefore meant taking Christ the God-man seriously. In sum, Zhao charged that Wu's Confucian-Christian synthesis, by ignoring this fundamental condition, was little more than Confucianism in Christian dress. In rejecting Wu's thoroughgoing Confucian interpretation of the Bible, Zhao created a new problem for himself - calling attention to the fundamental tension between a Confucian perfectionism based on selfeffort and a Christian soteriology based on the salvific work of Christ extra nos.24 How to resolve this tension would occupy his next decade, and the fruit of that labour was his Life of Saint Paul, which he claimed to have written during his Japanese internment but published after the war ended. In prison, he wrote later, he began to see his earlier work on Jesus as 'fanciful'. Turning to the Apostle Paul, Zhao claimed to have discovered that not only Paul's teachings but especially his character proved profoundly influential in the history of Christianity. In transforming Christianity from a provincial cult into a world religion through his character, Paul became a sage like Plato or Mencius. To understand the profound thoughts of Paul therefore requires not just sufficient intellectual capacity but especially a moral character that matches Paul's. Readers must themselves elevate their own characters before they can hope to grasp Paul's message. While Zhao's emphasis on Paul's character bears an unmistakable resemblance to that of Wu Leichuan, he also went beyond his senior Yenching colleague. Wu's Jesus achieved his great character through personal cultivation, and in so doing became a moral example for his followers. Zhao's Paul, however, provided believers with more than an exemplar; he also pointed them to a path of spiritual enlightenment. Paul's conversion was a case in point: he accomplished his great character through a 'mystical union' with the Sprit of Christ and in so doing led believers to a new path of enlightenment: Suddenly, Jesus Christ arrived, making [Paul] see that he was a living Christ of the heart-mind. He saw that the heart-mind entered the flesh, overcame the flesh, transcended the flesh, thus eternally living in a super-mundane, super-materialistic existence. He accepted Christ, the essence of his heart-mind achieved total compre-

hension,25 and now in faith he could tame what was formerly untamable, his flesh. His will, which formerly had had no freedom, now because of its encounter with the Spirit of Christ, was totally liberated.26 Since this same Spirit is operative even today, believers can achieve the same union with the Spirit Christ: [Once the person accepts Christ] the person and Christ are mixed together, dying with him, buried with him, resurrected with him...

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Baptism is a symbol of dying and being buried with Christ and being united with him in all things (Rom. 6.3-11). The body entering water symbolizes death, being immersed under water symbolizes burial, and emerging out of water symbolizes resurrection. Christ will not die; the believer also will not die! To be united with Christ is a life of salvation, a profound and subtle mystery.27 Once the Spirit lives in our heart, according to Zhao, we are equipped with an empowering grace that sets us on the path of moral cultivation. Righteousness cannot be imputed to the believer; it can only be developed and cultivated. But since believers are thoroughly corrupt and are incapable of cultivation themselves, help must come from the outside. But once they achieve union with the Spirit, the Spirit operates within them and enables them to perfect their righteousness. The end result of Zhao's efforts is a Confucian-Christian synthesis. It allows Zhao to be a Christian without ignoring the Confucian demand for moral perfection through self-effort. Why such an emphasis on moral perfection? It would seem that Zhao never strayed far from his basic conviction of 'national salvation by character', an issue that occupied his book on Jesus - except now cultivation of character was erected on a refurbished foundation of Pauline mysticism. As far as Zhao's hermeneutics is concerned, he displayed little of the unbounded confidence in the correctness of the classic or in his own ability to interpret it properly that we have seen in others. In fact, he claimed in the preface to Paul that unless one has a sufficiently high moral character one cannot hope to understand Paul. For Zhao, the hermeneutical gap between text and interpreter is not intellectual but moral. That is the reason Zhao felt the need to demonstrate the superior character of Paul. If the hermeneutical gap is a moral one, intimately connected with the character of the interpreter, to bridge the gap requires not just that we train our intellect in matters philosophic but also that we transform our character. Here is the deeper logic of Zhao's hermeneutics of character: a proper interpretation of scripture requires self-transformation as a precondition, as its Vorverstandnis. To use Gadamer's terminology, moral self-transformation needs must be a constitutive component of Verstandnis, without which the world of the text and the world of the interpreters would remain apart. Verstandnis, literally 'understanding', had always meant intellectual grasp, but the collective efforts of Heidegger and Gadamer turned it into an encounter, an event, an existential choice. Classical texts do not stay static but disclose a window into the past; they define an interpretive horizon that must be appropriated by the interpreters who themselves bring in their own predefined categories, understanding and horizons. Verstandnis can be achieved only when the horizons of the texts and those of the interpreters are melded together ('fusion of horizons'), so that the texts could answer the interpreters' questions and the interpreters in turn could ask the right questions. In insisting on a hermeneutics of characters that had to do with moral


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failings and self-cultivation, Zhao shifted the whole hermeneutical project from the intellectual to the moral, from the philosophic to daily life. In the course of evaluating Paul's Athenian debate with philosophers (Acts 17.16-34), Zhao suggested that Paul had indeed erred in thinking that a philosophical debate could change people's lives. What philosophy, what theory, can explain the highest experience in life, the most powerful faith?... Philosophy is a tool to explicate life experience; therefore, one should first have life experience. Even though we would like to marshal philosophy for the purpose of explanation, we should not use philosophy to examine life experience before there is any life experience. We especially cannot use philosophy to refute truths and values that philosophers do not have but others do.28 Philosophy could never be divorced from life, in Zhao's judgement, for it was only after Paul embraced the totality of life and reality did he finally exemplify true understanding: He understands people, and it is because of his understanding that he is able to attract thousands upon tens of thousands believers. He understands his religion, his Christ. But his understanding is not merely a rational conclusion but the expression of his whole life. An objective observation is not understanding; life is.29 Zhao reached the same conclusion without the benefit of Heidegger and Gadamer.30

Conclusion The opening ode in the Shijing (Classic of Poetry), Guan ju (Sflfit), reads: Guan guan cries the osprey on the islet of the river. Lithe and lovely the beautiful young maiden, a good match for the lord. Here and there the water-plants; left and right she passes among them. Lithe and lovely the beautiful young maiden, waking and sleeping he wished for her, wishing but not attaining. Waking and sleeping he thought of her, longing, longing, tossing and turning. Here and there the water-plants; left and right she harvests them. Lithe and lovely the beautiful young maiden, zithers and lutes befriend her.

Competing Tensions: A Search for May Fourth Biblical Hermeneutics 113

Here and there the water-plants; left and right she culls them. Lithe and lovely the beautiful young maiden, bells and drums delight her. Originally an epithalamium set against an agricultural background, the ode describes a young man's longing for his love while she harvests water-plants. Like the biblical Song of Songs, this ode would not have made it into the Confucian canon if Confucius had not judged it legitimate: 'As regards the guan ju there is joy without licentiousness, sadness without sorrows' (Analects, 3.20). In one of the earliest glosses on guan ju, the glossator applied an exegetical technique call xing (JR) and commented: This is called xing; 'guan guan' is a harmonious sound. The 'osprey' is a kingly bird. It is a bird of prey, and keeps apart [from its mate]. An 'island' is a place in the water where one can stand. The Consort was delighted by her lord's virtue; there was nothing in which they were inharmonious. Moreover, she did not debauch him with her beauty. She resolutely kept herself hidden away [in the women's quarters], just as the osprey keeps apart [from its mate]. This being the case, it was possible to transform the empire. [For] when husbands and wives keep a proper distance, then fathers and sons will be close. When fathers and sons are close, then lord and minister will be punctilious. When lord and minister are punctilious, then the court will be rectified. When the court is rectified, then the kingly transformations will be accomplished.31 The ode has a long, complex history of interpretation, which does not concern us here. But this one example is enough to indicate the sort of moral interpretation commonly applied to the ode. The glossator begins by classifying the ode as xing, thus determining the manner in which he intends to interpret the romantic ode. He then applies the technique to the first line, 'Guan guan cries the osprey', and reads 'guan guan' onomatopoetically as a 'harmonious sound,' and 'osprey' as a 'kingly bird'. Since the kingly osprey lives apart from its mate, that gives the glossator the justification to set the poem in the context of a courtly, but chaste, relationship. The second line, 'On the island of the river', strengthens his argument, because the island stands isolated in the middle of a river. The opening scene is thus identified as referring to the pure and virtuous relationship between the kingly bird and its mate. Interpreted, this means the virtuous queen for the sake of not appearing licentious is determined to live apart from her husband. Once the proper relationship between husband and wife is teased out using this technique, all other relationships - those between father and son, between king and subjects, and so on - follow suit. The glossator then concludes: The osprey really represents King Wen, and the scene describes a time when all rituals were performed correctly, all relationships were maintained properly, and the country was at peace. In the


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hands of the glossator, a song celebrating the young man's intense desire for his love is bowdlerized and turned into a Confucian lesson on the proper distance between husband and wife. Such proper behaviour is then lifted up as the foundation of a virtuous state. This exegetical tradition of Shijing points to a relational definition of the hermeneutical task in the Confucian tradition. By 'relational' I mean two things. First, it refers to the interpreters' concern to make the past, the golden age, into a realizable and practical model for the present. Second, it refers to the interpreters' concern to situate themselves in the exegetical tradition of the past, to bind themselves to a tradition started with the events of the text, punctuated by the canonization of the text itself, sustained by generations of exegetes, but very much embodied in the present. In other words, one interpreted a classic not just to acquire wisdom of the past but also to locate oneself in an historically alive and traditionally rich stream of relationships. As a result, commentaries on the Shijing as a rule included the text itself, the glosses and the preface, as well as exegetical notes by generations of readers and interpreters provided they passed the test of orthodoxy - each adding and legitimating previous layers of commentaries.32 History was seen not as a temporal gulf to be bridged but as an unbroken stream of tradition in which each commentator must find his place. The hermeneutical task in classical Confucianism was therefore not an epistemological one, but a moral one. The problem was not how one could understand the thought of the original author, and the solution did not lie with closing the socalled 'breach of intersubjectivity'.33 The question, instead, was how one could become moral and where in this tradition could one locate oneself. Exegesis was designed to induce, to provoke, to stimulate34 readers to moral action. This feature of the Confucian commentarial tradition begins to explain the hermeneutical concerns of the five Protestant writers surveyed here. Whether or not they explicitly followed the Confucian progression from personal cultivation to bringing peace to all under heaven, their root motivation was always moral. They all suggested to varying degrees that regeneration of self, society and ultimately nation must begin with moral cultivation. All focused on moral character as the seed of regeneration from which salvation of the nation was to germinate. Rather than say this is a form of individualism, what they all proposed is in line with the classical view of governance as moral rectification. That zheng (i§St) can mean both is no accident. As Tu Weiming says, 'Politics means "rectification". The goal of politics is not only to attain law and order in a society but also to establish a fiduciary community through moral persuasion ... [There is an] inseparability of moral and politics.'35 Political and social involvement, then, requires moral rectitude, and the May Fourth Protestants subscribed to the same cultural conviction. Such a belief formed and informed the hermeneutical assumptions of all five writers. Explicitly, it predetermined what sort of exegesis would be deemed acceptable: namely, a moral interpretation of the biblical text that aimed at transforming the character of the reader. At first glance, Ni Tuosheng's critique of the organized Church might seem like an

Competing Tensions: A Search for May Fourth Biblical Hermeneutics 115

exception, but here his stress on the character and virtues of the believer is also at its strongest. Interpreting the Church of Thyatira in the book of Revelation, he suggests that though the Church is corrupt, the believers are not. God has given up on the institution, but to the elect the Spirit reveals a 'special path' that will lead to renewal. He, like the others, operated on the assumption that the Bible is not an object of veneration in itself but a vehicle, an educative means, a via media, for the ultimate rectification of the reader's moral character. Implicitly, therefore, our writers treated the Bible in a general pattern reminiscent of commentators of ancient classics. They read the Bible in order to become a part of that tradition - a tradition that stretches from classical times to the present, encompassing Confucian jing (classics) as well as the Bible. That is perhaps why they all seem so confident in the lightness of the biblical message and in their ability to explicate that for the readers. For them, the Bible is Bible only if it is first a shengjing, a 'holy and sagely jing' worthy of the classical tradition (jing xue M^).

Notes 1. Chen Chonggui, Lingxiu rixin: shengjing meizhang zhi jiangyi [Daily Meditation: Lectures on the Bible Chapter by Chapter] (Chongqing: Evangelism Press, 1950), Vol. 1, p. 227. (All translations are mine unless noted otherwise.) 2. For my view of the Gadamerian hermeneutics, see Sze-kar Wan, 'Betwixt and Between: Towards a Hermeneutics of Hyphenation', in M. Foskett and J.K.-J Kuan (eds), Ways of Being, Ways of Reading: Asian-American Biblical Interpretation (St Louis MO: Chalice Press, 2006), pp. 137-51; and bibliography therein. See also Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method (New York: Seabury Press, 1975); Richard E. Palmer, Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory in Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, and Gadamer (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1969), pp. 194r-217; Georgia Warnke, Gadamer: Hermeneutics, Tradition and Reason (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1987), pp. 91, 98-9. 3. Essays from the project are collected in the Chinese Biblical Hermeneutics Symposium Proceedings 25 January 2002 (Hong Kong: Alliance Bible Seminary, 2002): Yen-zen Tsai, 'Scriptural Interpretation and Cultural Interaction: The Case of Wu Leichuan'; Sze-kar Wan, 'Paul the Mystical Sage: Chao Tzu-ch'en's Mystical-Ethical Hermeneutics of Character'; Fuk-tsang Ying, 'Chen Chonggui (Marcus Cheng) and The Daily Meditation'; John Yieh, 'Jia Yuming the Dean of Chinese Biblical Theology: A Hermeneutics of the Spirit and The Perfect Salvation'; and Ka-lun Leung, The Early Ecclesiology of Ni Tuosheng (Watchman Nee)'. 4. Ni Tuosheng, Jidutu boo [Christian Journal], 5, 'Questions and Answers' 3. 5. Ni Tuosheng, Moxiang qishilu [Meditation on Revelation] Vol. 2 (Taipei: Taiwan Gospel Book Room, 1991), p. 93. 6. Ni Tuosheng, Moxiang qishilu, Vol. 2, pp. 90-1. 7. On the imposition of 'schools' on earlier writings and its accompanying ideological and hermeneutical suppositions, see the collection of essays in K.-w. Chow, O.-c. Chow and J.B. Henderson (eds), Imagining Boundaries: Changing Confucian Doctrines, Texts, and Hermeneutics (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1999). 8. Wanquan jiuen [Perfect Salvation] (Hong Kong: Bellman House, 1987), p. 40; adapted from John Yieh's translation, 'Jia Yu-ming', p. 38. 9. Shangjing yaoyi [Significant Meanings of the Bible] (Hong Kong: Morning Star, 1992), p. 4. Translation from Yieh, 7ia Yu-ming', p. 12.


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10. Yieh, 'Jia Yuming', p. 12. 11. Yieh, 'Jia Yuming', pp. 31-2. 12. For discussion of the Lu-Wang School, see Tu Weiming, Centrality and Commonality: An Essay on Confucian Religiousness, rev. and enlarged edn (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1989), pp. 5-6 and passim; and Mou Zongsan, Zhongguo zhexue de tezhi [The Unique Character of Chinese Philosophy] (Taipei: Student Books, 1994). 13. Jia was likely also indebted to the holiness movement of the Wesleyan tradition, according to which holiness or perfection involves not only one's experience at the moment of conversion but is a lifelong quest. Ethical perfection is our life, for without ethical perfection there can be no life. Salvation thus formulated is also a lifelong quest, inextricably bound up with the quest for perfection. But if Jia was indeed influenced by the holiness movement, it would seem difficult to explain why this self-avowed Calvinist, ardent follower of B.B. Warfield, would adopt such a notion of perfection and moral cultivation. Is it possible that the Western distinction between Wesleyanism and Calvinism proves inadequate to explain a fluid mind like Jia's? Or that Jia developed his 'perfect salvation' as a response to what he perceived to be the moral depletion of China? Both are probably true, but I suspect a traditional Chinese understanding of the classics reasserted itself in Jia's Christian hermeneutics. 14. Cf. Ying Fuk-tsang, 'Chen Chonggui (Marcus Cheng) and The Daily Meditation', p. 7. 15. On the unity of the Bible, too, Chen's views are identical to Jia's. Chen saw the Bible as a unity, but if there were conflicts between the Old and New Testaments, Chen would take the New, because the whole book, for him, was taken to point to Christ. 16. 'Zenyang yanjiu shangjing 4: zenyang duifu yinan' [How to Study the Bible 4: How to Deal with Difficulties] Budao zazhi [Evangelism Magazine], 9.4 (1936): 22. 17. 'Zenyang yanjiu shangjing: liangge fangfa' [How to Study the Bible: Two Methods] Budao zazhi [Evangelism Magazine], 9.1 (1936): 21. (Trans, adapted from Ying Fuk-tsang, 'Chen Chonggui', p. 7.) 18. Chen, Lingxiu rixin, Vol. 2, p. 1124. 19. So Fuk-tsang Ying, 'Chen Chonggui (Marcus Cheng) and The Daily Meditation', pp. 13, 23. 20. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua [Christianity and Chinese Culture] (Shanghai: Youth Academic Press, 1936), pp. 26-7. (My emphasis) 21. For debate between Zhao and Wu, see Sze-kar Wan, 'The Emerging Hermeneutics of the Chinese Church: Debate between Wu Leichuan and T.C. Chao and the Chinese Christian Problematic, in I. Eber, S.-k. Wan, and K. Waif (eds), The Bible in Modern China: The Literary and Intellectual Impact (Sankt Augustin: Monumenta Serica, 1999), pp. 35182. 22. The citation at his 1947 Princeton University honorary doctorate in theology read: 'a pioneer and leader in eastern Christian scholarship, writer, religionist, poet, mystic'. Fellow honorary degree recipients included Harry S. Truman and Dwight David Eisenhower; see Zhao, 'Pulinsideng daxue juxing erbai zhounian jinianli shou wo rongyu shenxue boshi xuewei' [I Received an Honorary Doctorate at the Princeton University Bicentenary]' Tianfeng, 79 (1947): 14. 23. Zhao, 'Yesu wei jidu: ping Wu leichuan xiansheng zhi jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua' [Jesus as Christ A Critique of Mr Wu Leichuan's Christianity and Chinese Culture], Zhenli yu shengming, 10.7 (1936): 665-6 (emphasis supplied). 24. For a description of this problem in soteriology, see Wan, 'Emerging Hermeneutics'. 25. Alternatively, 'the essence of his heart was totally iUuminated'. 26. Zhao Zichen, Shang baoluo zhuan [The Life of Saint Paul] (Shanghai: Youth Association, 1947), p. 48. 27. Zhao Zichen, Shang baoluo zhuan, pp. 231-2; see also pp. 180-1, where he alludes to the ethical dimension of baptism. 28. Shang baoluo zhuan, p. 139.

Competing Tensions: A Search for May Fourth Biblical Hermeneutics 117 29. Shang baoluo zhuan, p. 36. 30. Zhao predated Gadamer, and there is no evidence that he was acquainted with Heidegger. 31. Adapted from Steven van Zoeren, Poetry and Personality: Reading, Exegesis, and Hermeneutics in Traditional China (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991), p. 87. 32. The form of this type of commentary resembles Mishnaic commentaries. See also articles by Schwarz and Daniel Boyarin in Steve D. Fraade (ed.), Prom Tradition to Commentary: Torah and its Interpretation in the Midrash Sifre to Deuteronomy (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1991), esp. pp. 1-23. 33. In the words of David Linge, in Hans-Georg Gadamer, Philosophical Hermeneutics, trans, and ed. D. Linge (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1976), p. xii. 34. These three functions - 'to induce', 'to provoke' and 'to stimulate' - are of course the variant translations of the technique xing. 35. See Tu, Centrality and Commonality, pp. 48-50. Tu's point is made specifically about the Zhongyong, especially Ch. 20, but it can be generalized to represent the Confucian tradition.

7 Interpreting the Lord's Prayer from a Confucian-Christian Perspective: Wu Leichuan's Practice and Contribution to Chinese Biblical Hermeneutics Grace Hui Liang The subject of Lk. 11.1-4 is the instruction of prayer. The disciples had asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and Jesus replies by giving them the prayer we call the 'Our Father7 or 'Lord's Prayer', which became the central Christian prayer in church life. How each generation responds to and interprets this model of prayer is an issue concerning not only hermeneutics in general, but the way in which the gospel is understood and communicated within the specific reality of Christian life. In this short essay, I take Wu Leichuan,1 a modern Chinese ConfucianChristian, as an example to explore how the Lord's Prayer is understood in the context of Chinese culture, religion and the sociopolitical sphere. Through an analysis of his biblical reading, this essay discusses the merits and disadvantages of the principles and methodology used by Wu in interpreting New Testament in a Chinese-Confucian setting, and addresses Wu's contribution to Chinese biblical hermeneutics. The Lord's Prayer (Lk. 11.1-4) 2 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.' He said to them, 'When you pray, say: "Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial." ' 3 As Joel B. Green points out, this narrative section is related contextually to what precedes it in two fundamental ways.4 First, Jesus' teaching of the prayer follows his interaction with Martha and Mary (Lk. 10.38-42), which prepares his instruction on the fatherhood of God by focusing on his listeners' disposition towards authentic hearing in the presence of the coming kingdom. Jesus has referred to God as his Fattier five times before, both in prayer and instruction (10.21-22). Teaching the fatherhood of God is considered by most interpreters today to be the central point of the Lord's Prayer. Many scholars think Luke's message and 118

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understanding of God as 'father' relates to the realities of the GraecoRoman world wherein 'a father had virtually unlimited authority over his children (and their children) as long as he lived'.5 Of course this portrait of a Roman father was not reason enough to refer to God as 'Father'. As Green argues, the Lord's Prayer is centred on 'the gracious God, on dependence on God, and on the imitation of God',6 with the image of father implying that God cares for his children and acts redemptively on their behalf. According to traditional historical interpretation, the main theological motifs within this narrative unit are: the anticipation in the present of the future consummation of God's work; the historic and eschatological provision of God for his people; forgiveness and the release of debts; and faithful behaviour in the face of testing. As Wu Leichuan read this passage, we might wonder what kind of new theological 'meaning' would he find in the Scripture in light of his dual identity? How did he treat the fatherhood of God? We shall now look at how Wu confronts and challenges the text.

Wu's multiple identities and social location Wu Leichuan (1870-1944) was a Confucian scholar and the only modern Protestant to hold the degree of jinshi, the highest academic degree attainable in imperial China. His conversion to Christianity was unique in modern Chinese history. Since Wu struggled in his life with his identities both as a Confucian literatus and a Christian reformer, I use the term 'Confucian-Christian' to define his character, and in this essay discuss how Confucianism and other popular political theories influenced his understanding of the Lord's Prayer. Wu lived through some of the most important political events in the history of modern Chinese society, including the end of the Manchu Qing Empire and the establishment of the Republic of China (ROC) in 1911. He spent most of his days under the rule of the ROC, which was controlled by the Guomingdang (GMD) who administered mainland China until its overthrow by the Chinese communists in the Chinese Civil War. Although the GMD attempted to transform China into a modern democratic state, for a long period the country was politically fragmented, too weak to repel European colonialism and Japanese invasion, while at the same time suffering internal conflicts in the developing civil war. Recognized in his time as one of the most distinguished theologians and Christian educators in the Republic of China, Wu Leichuan devoted his life to searching for effective and immediate solutions to the serious sociopolitical issues of his time. Compared with Confucianism and other religions in China, Wu regarded Christianity as the fullest and most centralized illustration of universal truth, one that could provide a workable solution for the crisis in Chinese society. However, he was not satisfied with a fundamentalist understanding of the Bible that coincided with the period of rapid expansion of colonialism in China.7 Within such


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a context, rediscovering a 'true' Christianity that could meet the needs of the Chinese people became the core of his theological work. This goal set the parameters of his reading of the Lord's Prayer and the methodology he chose for its interpretation. Interpreting the Lord's Prayer from a Confucian-Christian perspective In his book Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua [Christianity and Chinese Culture], Wu Leichuan interpreted the Lord's Prayer in Lk. 11.1-4 in line within his own social scientific worldviews, a combination of Confucianism, Christianity, Darwinism, socialism, communism and various other revolutionary theories. Wu's reading of this passage is found in Chapter 3, where he summarizes the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel.8 Since as a traditional Confucian intellectual, Wu had no knowledge of any foreign language, his interpretation was based on the Chinese translation of the English Revised Version, the Chinese Union Version.9 Below is his exegesis, with comment: 1. 'Our Father which art in heaven': God as the Father is used in the New Testament, where Jesus himself calls God Abba, denoting his intimate relationship with him. As one ethnic Chinese academic has noted, 'When the missionaries used the phrase Heavenly Father, they highlighted the love and protection of God, especially in their rhetoric directed against those indigenous deities that the Chinese feared/10 But when Wu interpreted this verse, he laid emphasis on the image of God as the Father of all human beings. Wu held that when Jesus defined God as 'our Father', his instruction concerning prayer was not just for the disciples but also for all humankind.11 Why was this? As Wu points out: first, God is compassionate and merciful, nurturing and protecting all people. When Jesus taught his disciples the prayer, his purpose was to make them understand that God is a divine Father of all humankind. So while the disciples learned how to pray before the heavenly Father, they should ask God to bestow his rich blessings upon all human beings instead of just pursuing their own benefits. Second, Wu emphasized that God is righteous and impartial, and can be referred to as a father who treats his children with equality in the family. Therefore, as the sons and daughters of God, humans should show filial piety towards him and also love each other.12 Here we can see how Wu's treatment of the fatherhood of God was related to the familiar context in China and the moral teaching of Confucius. For a long period, China as a Confucian society had regarded itself as a large family: 'Within the four seas all men are brothers' (Analects 12.5). During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the well-known 'five relationships'13 of Confucianism were damaged by the turbulence and confusion in modern China. Traditional values were challenged by the exploitation and oppression filling society. The main legacy of Confucius, the teaching on ren {2 (universal love/benevolence), was gradually losing its efficacy. From Wu's reading of the image of God,

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we find his attempts to reconstruct the moral order of human relationships in China through the teachings of Christianity. 2. 'Hallowed be thy name': Wu claims that Jesus is here teaching 'the holy name of God should be worshipped and honoured by all human beings. In other words, each person should admit the existence of universal truth and submit to the dominion of the Heavenly Father/14 The fatherhood of God is also understood as the embodiment of gongdao QJOL (impartiality). 3. 'Thy kingdom come': Here Wu points out his understanding of the Kingdom of God. For him, heaven (God's Kingdom) is not another world beyond our world, or the abode of God or the angels and the souls of those granted salvation after death. Rather, Wu thought of heaven as a totally new society, with no oppression, poverty and suffering, and full of the justice and love of God. He concludes, 'Your kingdom come' indicates that such a new society will be realized in our reality, one day.15 Why did Wu interpret the Kingdom of God as a new society? His reading is based on two reasons: first, influenced by the attitude of Confucius towards the term tian (heaven),16 Wu spoke much more of heaven not as a personal deity, but as the source and principle of ethical laws and values. He was not interested in the worship of tian like his contemporaries. The Temple of heaven, the dwelling place of Shangdi (Lord-on-high) was not an important issue for him. Second, in line with the contemporary popularity of scientism and Darwinism, Wu could not accept the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the basis of Christian teaching on eternal life. Third, the dangerous situation of Chinese society urged him to search for a more practical 'new society', rather than an unpredictable heaven. 4. "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth': For Wu, a totally new society is not a mirage that will be suddenly realized. Instead 'thy kingdom of God come' is based on the reconstruction of our old society. When the old one is undergoing reconstruction, egoistical persons will stand up to oppose it, since they are afraid of losing their privileges and properties. Wu held that this verse reminds us to pray for the successful realization of a new society.17 5. 'Give us day by day our daily bread': For Wu this verse has two meanings. First, in our world, unequal social systems mean that many people cannot get enough food to eat. 'Give us our daily bread' indicates that all human beings should have what they need. In order to satisfy humankind's needs, the only way forward is to reconstruct our society. Why do injustice and poverty pervade the world? Wu points out that the main reason is excessive desire, especially for wealth and power. So Jesus taught us to pray for 'our daily bread'.18 What is the meaning of 'daily'? According to the traditional interpretation, it denotes 'the bread pertaining to the coming day'. This may connote nothing more than 'the bread needed for the rest of today' or, like the divine promise of manna for Israel in the wilderness (cf. Ex. 16.9-21), 'enough bread for today and the promise of sufficient bread for tomorrow as well'.19 From Wu's perspective, the teaching on 'daily bread' suggests everyone should get what they need daily, and should not lay up surplus goods for their


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own sake. In conclusion, Wu notes that this verse implies 'Jesus does not look down on the distribution of material goods.'20 When we read this, we recall the parable of the Rich Fool in Lk. 12.1321 and Jesus' proverbial expression of the impossibility for 'a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven' in Mt. 19.24. Why should Wu pay such attention to 'daily bread'? During the first decades of the twentieth century, millions were struggling with famine, poverty and oppression. Some had never seen a piece of bread in their life, since Chinese eat rice more than bread. But at the same time the warlords, the bureaucrats and other capitalists stored up large treasure for themselves. Jesus' warning against greed and material self-satisfaction provides Wu with an effective approach to criticize inequality in his society. Wu thought that when 'the kingdom of God comes', material goods would be distributed to everyone equally, and satisfy the basic needs of daily life. His ideas were evidently combined with the influence of socialism and communism. 6. 'And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us': Wu's interpretation of this verse focuses on the universal love that Jesus imparts to his disciples. Wu points out that the equal distribution of goods is important for the construction of a new society, but if human beings cannot love each other, the kingdom of God will never come.21 How can a person love others, especially offer 'the love of relatives' to non-kin? Here Wu uses the Confucian term shudao MM (the principle of forgiveness) to interpret this verse. According to the teaching of Confucius, shudao is a doctrine of reciprocity and neighbourliness. In other words, it represents respect of, and consideration for others (Analects, 4.15). Wu agreed that everyone is sinful in the world. If we want to forgive ourselves, we must forgive others. If a person 'extends love from those he loves to those he does not love' (Mencius, 7B.1), or forgives others, even those who have done hurt to him, he will gain real peace in the heart. Wu said: 'Peace is the evidence that one's sin has been pardoned/ 22 If everyone advocates a love of all with forgiveness, a peaceful world will be realized. 7. 'And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil': Here Wu discusses the theological meanings of 'temptation' and 'evil'. What is the traditional interpretation of the term of 'testing'? It is an ambiguous word in the Bible. The Old Testament testimony regards God's provision of tests 'to prove' (and cultivate) the faithfulness of his people, such as in the book of Job. But in Luke's narrative, the presence of testing is consistently viewed negatively as a detriment to faith.23 For Wu, 'testing' denotes all kinds of temptations in society, such as greed, sensuality and drunkenness. 'Evil' means all the bad things which happen in the world, such as floods, fires and war. Wu suggests this verse reminds us to be cautious, and to avoid dangers, temptations and disasters. The verse also expresses the hope that our world will evolve into a more secure society in the future.24

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Critique How should we view Wu's interpretation of Lk. 11.1-4? The main purpose of his sociopolitical reading is to explore an effective solution for the reformation of Chinese society. According to his cultural background and social situation, Wu understood Christianity as the most representative expression of universal truth available to guide and teach the Chinese people how to reconstruct society. From this perspective, Wu points out that Christianity is not just a religion for individual salvation, but makes its contribution mostly in the creation of new society and the revival of the nation. Within such a social worldview, he interprets the Lord's Prayer as teaching the doctrine of social reformation and the principles of personal growth.25 Wu held Jesus to be the perfect example of personality, and the embodiment of zhendao H i t (universal truth).26 Human beings should follow Jesus and learn from his words and behaviour. If everyone acted on the doctrine taught by the Lord's Prayer in daily life, society would be gradually changed. Wu's reading of the Bible was questioned and opposed by contemporary Chinese Christians. Zhao Zichen (T.C. Chao),27 another famous Chinese theologian of modern China, pointed out that since Wu could not accept and understand the trinitarian formula of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, his interpretation of the Bible 'could not differentiate between Confucianism and Christianity. If there is no obvious difference between them, why should we choose to be Christian instead of Confucian?'28 Zhao thought Wu's understanding of Christianity was subjective, humanistic and without God; in other words, Wu's Christianity was not the Christianity taught by Jesus Christ. As for Zhao's critique, Wu did not defend himself in detail. In his later works, Wu insisted that the most important thing is that zhendao (universal truth) be popularized in China, and the evolution of Chinese society promoted: this would be the criterion for evaluating its function. With this premise, Wu felt that Christianity, or the teachings of Jesus Christ, met the needs of the Chinese people, and so being a Christian was necessary in China.

Wu Leichuan's contribution to Chinese biblical hermeneutics As a traditional Confucian intellectual, having had no theological training or direct access to biblical scholarship except through translation, Wu's interpretation of the Bible was strongly shaped and informed by his own social and cultural context. How then can we comment on 'textual practice' and 'identity-making' in his writings on biblical interpretation in China? Given that even today few contributions have been made in mainland China in the area of strict exegesis, we need to probe carefully both the positive aspects of Wu's contextualized readings of the Bible, and the theological problems he met in the process of biblical interpretation. The first point to note regarding the contribution that Wu has made to


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Chinese biblical hermeneutics, is that his works serve as a specific example for doing biblical interpretation in non-Western contexts. The development of Chinese biblical interpretation has depended on the overall status of Christianity in China. Looking back on the history of the early twentieth century, Western missionaries held leadership positions and were the dominating forces in the Chinese churches until the end of the 1940s. As Thor Strandenaes points out, 'As a result, indigenous Chinese theology was slow to emerge because of the unfavourable conditions. This was even more so where biblical interpretation was concerned', noting that 'it was not until the May Fourth movement (1919) that the first generation of Chinese theologians appeared'.29 This was related to another historical fact: the same year, the Mandarin Chinese version (the baihua, vernacular version) of the Bible was published in China, an edition which to the present day has remained the most popular Chinese translation of the Bible. For most modern Chinese intellectuals, the Bible has been a foreign jing (classic) that should be dealt with within the pluralistic religious context of China. In his writings, Wu Leichuan claimed that he was uneasy about the principles and methodologies used by Western missionaries and theologians for biblical interpretation in China. He noticed that when Protestant missions led to a new wave of evangelization in China, the methods used to convert Chinese people had been Western-centred, and could not relate adequately to the local indigenous setting or context.30 It is certainly true that due to the long Western domination of biblical interpretation in China, missionaries or theologians from Europe and America, and even Chinese church leaders, have given the impression, consciously or unconsciously, that there are certain methods for reading and interpreting the Bible which have universal validity, and have monopolized these. As one European missionary living for a long time in Taiwan and Hong Kong has remarked: 'Even today this attitude characterizes many churches and theological training institutions in Hong Kong, and also in the People's Republic.'31 It is only very recently that Chinese theologians have been given adequate training for exegetical research or specialized knowledge within fields of particular relevance to biblical scholarship. From today's viewpoint, as the first generation of Chinese theologians, Wu and his contemporaries' biblical readings are more a kind of interpretation than an exegesis. Their practices showed how the religious, cultural and historical experience of the Chinese influenced the exegetical process. As is widely known, in the last half of the twentieth century, biblical scholars from non-Western backgrounds have begun to develop and employ interpretive methods that are more indigenous to their cultures, the term cross-cultural criticism referring to the 'kind of interpretation that usually pays attention to matters of race, class, and gender, which explicitly promotes liberation'.32 Compared with such methods of reading the Bible, especially the New Testament today, Wu played a pioneer role in the use of Chinese experiences and concepts in interpreting texts. In 1920, when he criticized traditional methods employed by Western missionaries in reading the Bible in

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China, Wu had posited: 'Most of the teachings in the Old and New Testament are still relevant today, but are limited by the races, areas and times, the ways of thinking, the expression of languages, and the organization of the words. Wu's own writings aim to deal with the interaction between texts and contemporary society, especially exploring the life and faith of modern Chinese people. His reading of the New Testament can be seen as an ideological reading. Furthermore, when Wu brought the text in context with his era, local culture and life situation, the central theological problem he raised and considered relevant in exegesis was reconstructing the image of Jesus Christ. His investigation of Christ presents his contribution to the Chinese understanding of Jesus, which is different from the quests conducted in the West. As Wu mentioned, dissatisfaction with the existing interpretations of the message and meaning of Jesus Christ led him to focus on rewriting Jesus' biography from a Chinese perspective.34 The heart of his hermeneutic is the human character of Jesus, who exemplified social reform through self-cultivation. In other words, Wu stresses Jesus' human qualities to the exclusion of the divine. Although compared with his colleagues, Wu's new christological attempt led to a more radical Confucian adaptation of Jesus, it should be seen as an urgent response to the social needs of modern China, and specifically how to rebuild the Chinese nation within a Christian context. Jesus, or more accurately, Yesu de renge 3Plft#jA1# (the character of Jesus) was the single most important topic in the early twentieth-century Church in China. This is the famous Yesu renge jiuguo $ScHI (national salvation through Jesus' character) movement, proposed and seriously discussed by Chinese Christian intellectuals during this period. Sze-kar Wan has commented on the impetus for this movement, noting that 'the reasons were several, but all probably had to do with the scientism and antiforeignism of May Fourth and the Anti-Christian Campaign of 19221927'.^ This contemporary ethos of tension gave birth to the first generation of Chinese theologians, who developed an indigenous strategy to defend their identity and faith, which relied on the historical Jesus to respond to the throes of national crisis. The Chinese appropriation of Jesus was based on the assumption that 'Jesus represented the pristine religiosity of Christianity before it was institutionalized and encrusted with Western cultural byproducts.'36 For Wu and other Chinese converts, the explorations of Jesus' life and mission focused on his words, deeds and attitudes, and on how Jesus could be studied and followed as a model human being. Jesus was thus approached with an existential interest in finding his particular contribution for the task of rebuilding China. From this perspective, for most of modern Chinese Christian scholars, soteriology could only mean national salvation. Wu's opinion towards this question seemed more 'specifically Chinese': The object of [Jesus'] salvation for the world is to reconstruct society and his method is to remake the individual. His power of drawing people to himself can really redeem the world from generation to generation. The future of China largely depends upon her youth


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and the one who is worthy to be her competent leader and deserves her worship is Jesus of the imperishable character.37 Wu's interpretation of Jesus testifies to Albert Schweitzer's dictum: 'Each successive epoch of theology found its own thoughts in Jesus; that was, indeed, the only way in which it could make Him live. Third, a trained, degree-holding Confucian-Christian scholar, Wu consciously employed the resources of Chinese traditional thought, especially the common Confucian heritage in interpreting the Bible. Wu grew up in, was nourished by, and embraced Chinese culture, with its intermingling of narrative, yin-yang philosophy and traditions of Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, etc. Steeped in such a multiscriptural cultural setting, his reading of the biblical texts inevitably entered into constant interpretation and interaction with Chinese cultural-religious texts. In his hermeneutics, the Confucian classics played a dominant role in interacting with Christian Scripture. Wu's cross-textual reading39 began in the early 1920s when he borrowed Confucian concepts and themes in interpreting this foreign jing. In his writings, we find that important Christian values had their Confucian counterparts: The 'Holy Spirit' in the New Testament was similar to ten of the Confucian classics;40 Christian prayer was a meditation that formed the core exercise of Confucian self-cultivation (cunyang ^F#); 41 'Forgive our sins as we forgive the sins of others' spoke of the Confucian notion of shu ('reciprocity, forgiveness'), which was an essential ingredient in human social life. In 1920 Wu set out his motives for fusing Christian theology with Confucian ethical thinking: 'I believe that Christianity and every other kind of religion, and even every school of thought, are all of the same origin.'42 Although such a view failed to acknowledge the uniqueness of Jesus, it released Wu from Western thinking and church traditions, and also gave him the freedom to reinterpret the Christian faith within a Confucian cultural framework.43 Wu, however, did little to evaluate how the elements of Christianity influenced the exegesis of Chinese classics, while Confucian ethics and philosophy became a determining factor in his biblical reading. When we talk about Wu's contribution to Chinese biblical hermeneutics, we also need to reflect on the disadvantages he brought into Chinese biblical orientation. First, in his exegetical work, Wu rejected the traditional stories and doctrines of Christianity, ignoring the miraculous aspects of the biblical records. His scepticism centred on the divine nature of Jesus Christ, his virgin birth, his bodily resurrection and ascension. In Wu's times, an anti-miraculous stance was not unique in his circle. In the face of the secular humanism and nationalism of May Fourth, followed by the Anti-Christian campaign of 1922-27, Chinese Christian intellectuals demanded a 'reasonable' Christianity to 'provide cultural answers and promote national actions'. How to purge Christianity of 'dogma' became an issue for Wu and other theologians such as Zhao Zichen, Wu Yaozong and Xu Baoqian. Compared to them, Wu went further, losing touch with a central part of Christian tradition. We might ask: what is the core of Christianity? If the core of Christianity

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is, as one academic has proposed, a meaning that finds its centre and coherence in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as the clue to the world's destiny, and which contextualizes that basic gospel insight in widely diverse ways, which nonetheless bear 'family resemblances' to each other and, if authentic, always embody the trinitarian missional purpose whereby the Spirit reconciles all things to the Father through the Son,44 then Wu's case reminds us that even today, when Chinese Christians are developing an indigenized theology, in the process of contextualization, the main biblical and historical doctrines of the Christian Church should be preserved without compromise. The second main reason for Wu banishing the 'mythological' from the biblical narratives is his attitude influenced by the rationalistic tradition of the Chinese classics. Even at the time of his conversion, Wu claimed that divine miracles did not convince him, although many of the lessons taught by the Bible were impressive.45 In 1924, when he compared the miracles of Jesus to legends surrounding Confucius, he argued that since the gospels were written decades after Christ's death, all those accounts stressing a mythological dimension in Jesus' stories should be seen as inconceivable, of the same genre as the miraculous birth of Confucius. Wu concluded that the perfection of the sage (shengren £ A), and of the gentleman (junzi), the key goals for a true Confucian, were irrelevant to supernatural events.46 Later, in his book Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, Wu maintains that in reading the gospels one should 'attend to how Jesus was as a human (weiren MA). Even if he had been endowed with divine authority, we need not pay it much heed.'47 Wu's narrow insight towards the life and mission of Jesus Christ created 'blind-spots' where he failed to see clearly what the text is saying. His own cultural setting to some extent also prevented him from getting the genuine meaning of 'Jesus is Lord'. He failed to appreciate that when the Bible seems to be saying something puzzling or repellent, we must pay particularly careful attention, for it is often in such circumstances that our own cultural lenses are obscured. Second, when Wu interpreted the Bible within the pluralistic religious context of China, he could not escape the problem of reconciling the tension between Chinese cultural traditions and Christianity. When Western missionaries came to China, they also encountered much trouble in explaining the uniqueness of Jesus in comparison with the ancient holy sages Yao and Shun, or with Confucius, or, depending on individual orientation, with Buddha or Laozi. The challenge was not chiefly from the intellectual elite, but 'for most non-Christian Chinese the conviction that Jesus was God's son, God's incarnation in history, that God, therefore, took on bodily shape and walked on earth in human form, was simply irrational'.48 Living in the midst of pluralism, the Chinese people to the present have felt it an unreasonable demand to believe in a foreign saviour with an exclusive claim of salvation. In Wu's hermeneutics, dominated by strong humanistic tradition of Confucianism (actually, Zhu Xi inspired Neo-Confucianism), he attempted to reconcile the Confucian obligation of transforming society through self-cultivation with a Protestant soteriology. From the


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Confucian perspective, one could reach moral perfection and wisdom through the study of the Chinese classics and self-effort; but within the full scope of the New Testament, salvation is based on the life, death, resurrection, ascension and final return of Jesus Christ who 'restores creation, providing salvation for all those whom God has chosen to redeem'.49 How could Wu resolve an incompatibility between selfcultivation and God's grace? With its Confucian-Christian synthesis, Wu's new christological formulation led to a more radical Confucian adaptation of a Jesus who exemplified social reform through selfcultivation. Detached from church dogma, Wu's Jesus became a Confucian sage and the primary example for Chinese Christians to emulate. As the German Sinologist Roman Malek has indicated, Wu's radical reception and understanding of the Saviour Jesus was not unique among his contemporaries. In a publication entitled Jesus as I Know Him,50 Zhao Zichen, Wu Yaozong, N.Z. Zia, Peter Kuan, K.L. Pao, K.S. Wang and Xu Baoqian, all members of the Life Fellowship, also portrayed Jesus in highly individual, personal ways. In all of these portraits, Jesus' humanity and his 'perfect character (renge)' were emphasized. Malek concludes: 'Much stronger than with the Jesuits in the 17th and 18th centuries, Jesus became the "prisoner of Confucius".'51 In Wu's later writings, such a specific orientation in interpretation of Jesus Christ shifted, from self-cultivation to political involvement, remaining Confucian throughout. We might agree with Philip West's comment, that with the rejection of minor tenets of conservative Western theology, 'Wu's major task, in effect, was to put new Christian wine in old Confucian wineskins.'52 Wu's biblical hermeneutics thus failed to make clear the contribution Christianity could bring to China which Confucianism could not provide. From the above discussion, we can see that Wu's cross-cultural readings of scripture helps 'make sense' of passages that, in either context, might be incomprehensible. In other words, one of the positive results of his contextualized reading of the Bible is that he illumined aspects of the text that might otherwise go unnoticed when read from a single cultural perspective. But disadvantages and difficulties with his hermeneutics are clear. When Wu borrows from Confucian resources to interpret the biblical texts within the multiscriptural Chinese context, his own language and cultural framework also limit the possibilities for unfolding a specific face and image of Jesus. Roman Malek's critique of the first generation of Chinese theologians offering their own interpretations of the Bible remains important today. Examining the history of modern China, he writes: Xenophobia and strong nationalism, for example, in the past prevented many Chinese from developing a genuine understanding of Jesus. The receptivity of the Chinese for Jesus Christ depends on how well they may integrate the complicated 'Christological problematic' into their own system of thought and to what degree this Jesus may answer to the needs and desires of today's China. It

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is, therefore, important to meet the Chinese faces and images of Jesus with great sensitivity.53

Conclusion Strictly speaking, Wu and his contemporaries' biblical readings are only a kind of interpretation, rather than an exegesis that reads meaning out of the text. But their attempts represent how early Chinese Protestant theologians had begun to develop and employ interpretative modes more indigenous to their cultures. As it turned out, after Liberation in 1949, and later during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the development of Chinese biblical interpretation was cut short. It was not until the last 20 years that Chinese scholars have gradually been trained for exegetical research or specialized knowledge within fields of particular relevance to biblical interpretation. In comparison with the active exploration of ethnic Chinese biblical scholarship in Hong Kong, Taiwan and North American, biblical studies in mainland China are relatively few.54 Wu's contribution to Chinese biblical hermeneutics leads us to reflect on the question: What will be the paradigms of Chinese biblical interpretation in the future? Firstly, Wu's case suggests that Chinese exegetical research should not deviate from the main traditions of the Christian faith. Although Christianity is alien to any culture, the fact is that God's revelation came to us in the Scriptures through specific cultural forms, such as the Jewish and Hellenistic cultures of the New Testament. Today as Chinese biblical scholars recognize the limitations of Western approaches, they have developed interpretive methods in the reading of the Bible within specific cultural and social context and assumptions;55 but their interpretations still need to attend to traditional Christian theology, and the principles and methodologies of biblical interpretation developed by the Western (and Eastern) Church over the past thousands of years. Chinese exegetes cannot disregard those traditions, which have been central to historic Christianity. Wu Leichuan's case reminds us of the need to do intercultural reading carefully, avoiding falling into the trap of putting too much of our own passion and purpose into the interpretation of the Bible. Secondly, a Chinese contextual reading uses the contemporary experiences and concepts of the Chinese people in the reading of scripture. In the 1930s and 1940s Wu Leichuan and his coterie stressed the ethical dimension in Jesus' life and teaching. Our question is: what kind of interpretation is needed by today's Chinese Christians, or in Kiok-khng Yeo's terminology, 'Where is Chinese biblical scholarship heading? Is Chinese biblical scholarship heading in the direction of CDROM data collection only?'56 Although Yeo is concerned about the commentary writings of Chinese exegetes, his question is directly related to the aim of Chinese biblical interpretation. In the pluralistic world of the twenty-first century, the Chinese people are experiencing crucial


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social reform and economic revolution. Therefore, Chinese exegetical work should react firstly to the life situation and social problems of mainland China. The widening gap between rich and poor, urban and rural disparities, issues of social justice, the cry of the marginalized and weak in society, an increasing number of laid-off female labour workers, prostitutes, female beggars, criminals, drug addicts and teenagers unable to go to school - such problems have emerged as a result of the rapid social change and economic development, and will influence the themes and topics of Chinese biblical hermeneutics. As one of the earliest known civilizations, China is characterized by its diversity in religion, culture and language. Today when Chinese biblical scholars seek fresh guidance on how to interpret and live out the Christian faith in the uniqueness of Christ within a multifaith and multicultural context, they face a textual heritage determined by both ancient Chinese cultural tradition and modern religious diversity. The Confucian heritage will still play the leading role in Chinese cross-cultural reading, and Confucian philosophy and ethics strongly influence a Chinese orientation in biblical interpretation. Thirdly, a quest for models for Christian living in Chinese society will consistently form the core of Chinese exegetical work. Influenced by the strong humanistic traditions in China, the guiding motives of Chinese biblical reading today focus on how the Christian faith challenges and transforms people's lives. The central part of exegesis cannot escape the reinterpretation of Jesus' life and mission in the contemporary Chinese context. But learning from Wu Leichuan's lesson, Chinese contextual reading of Jesus should not be narrowed to 'approach him with an existential interest in finding his particular contributions and motivation for living his life as he did', but confess how he is 'true God from true God', and the model and founder of the relationship between God and humans. In a word, doing cross-cultural criticism today in the local indigenous setting, Chinese exegetes should 'seek readings that are both faithful to the text, and meaningful in their own context'.57 Through the study of Wu Leichuan's Chinese-Confucian Christian reading of the Bible, we explore the tensions between Chinese cultural traditions and the uniqueness of Christianity. In his writings, Wu brings his hidden prejudices into biblical interpretation, but at the same time opens fresh ways of reflecting on the authority of Jesus Christ in a pluralistic world. The incompatibilities between Christian and Chinese thought contribute to the enrichment and vitality of the Scripture itself. In other words, the biblical texts are challenged, enlightened and reformulated in the process of reinterpretation. From this perspective, one modern Chinese Christian intellectual's reading of the Bible offers a particular model in biblical hermeneutics, whether regarded as a constructive reading of the Scripture, or a misinterpretation beyond the Christian tradition.

Interpreting the Lord's Prayer from a Confucian-Christian Perspective 131

Notes 1. Wu Leichuan (5Mf J'l, real name Zhenchun H # ) , born in Xuzhou, Jiangsu. In 1898 he obtained the jinshi degree and was deployed by the emperor to work in the Hanlin Academy. After the revolution of 1911, he was appointed Mayor of Hangzhou; in 1912 he acquired a position in the Zhejiang provincial board of education, and was later transferred to work in the department of education in the central government in Beijing. He began teaching at Yenching University in 1922 and was appointed professor in 1925, becoming vice-president of the university in 1926, and president in 1929. His representative works are Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua [Christianity and Chinese Culture], Modi yu Yesu [Mozi and Jesus Christ]. 2. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, NRSV, ed. Michael D. Coogan (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001; 3rd edn), pp. 118-19. 3. NRSV: 'to the time of trial'. 4. Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 1997), p. 437. 5. Green, The Gospel of Luke, p. 438. 6. Green, The Gospel of Luke, p. 440. 7. See detail in Wu Leichuan's essay, 'Wo duiyu jidujiaohui de ganxiang' [My Perspective on the Christian Church], Shengming yuekan [life Journal], 1.4 (1920): 1-4, 2. 8. See Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua [Christianity and Chinese Culture] (Shanghai: the Association Press of China of the YMCA, 1936; repr. 1940), pp. 61-5. 9. The Chinese Union Version (Heheben), published in 1919. 10. Kwok Pui-lan, Chinese Women and Christianity, 1860-1927 (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, 1989), p. 56. 11. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, p. 62. 12. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, pp. 62-3. 13. These include ruler-minister, father-son, husband-wife, elder-younger brother, and friend-friend. 14. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, p. 63. 15. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, p. 63. 16. Confucius makes only infrequent mention of the personal deity, and thinks it difficult to find or name him. According to Mencius (371-289?), heaven is present within the human heart, so that those who know their own heart and nature, know heaven (Mencius, 7A.1). 17. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, p. 63. 18. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, pp. 63-4. 19. Green, The Gospel of Luke, p. 442. 20. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, p. 64. 21. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, p. 64. 22. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, p. 64. 23. Green, The Gospel of Luke, p. 444. 24. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, pp. 64-5. 25. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, p. 64. 26. Wu held that God, the universal truth, dwells in the inner heart of Jesus and human beings. His understanding of Jesus as the embodiment of dao (truth) differs from the traditional interpretation of incarnation in the Gospel. 27. Zhao Zichen (1888-1979), one of the most famous Christian scholars and educators in modern China. Born in Zhejiang, he graduated from Soochow University in 1910 and went to study at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1914, earning his MA in sociology in 1916 and BD in 1917. He returned to teach at Soochow University from 1917 to 1925, being appointed the Dean of the School of Science and Liberal Arts. In 1926 he began teaching at Yenching University and took the position of Dean of School of Religions in 1928. He was chosen to be one of the Chinese delegates to the international




30. 31. 32. 33. 34.


36. 37. 38.


Grace Hui Liang

missionary council in Jerusalem in 1928 and to the Madras conference in 1938. He was elected as one of the six vice-presidents of the World Council of Churches in 1948 in Amsterdam. His representative works are: Jidujiao zhexue [Philosophy of Christianity], Yesu zhuan [A Biography of Jesus Christ], Shenxue si jiang [Four Lectures on Theology]. Zhao Zichen, 'Yesu wei Jidu. Ping Wu Leichuan xiansheng zhi Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua' [Jesus as Christ A Critique of Mr Wu Leichuan's Christianity and Chinese Culture], Zhenli yu shengming [Truth and Life], 10.7 (1936): 419. Thor Strandenaes, 'Biblical Interpretation in the Middle Kingdom: Focus on the Choice of Paradigm in Chinese New Testament Scholarship', in Tord Fornberg (ed), Bible, Hermeneutics, Mission: A Contribution to the Contextual Study of Holy Scripture (International Tryck: Swedish Institute for Missionary Research, 1995), pp. 85-111, p. 86. The May Fourth movement (1917-21) was an intellectual revolutionary and sociopolitical reform movement. Young intellectuals inspired by Chen Duxiu agitated for the reform and strengthening of Chinese society through acceptance of Western science and democracy, one objective being to make China strong enough to resist Western imperialism. On 4 May 1919 reformist zeal found focus in a protest by Beijing's students against the Versailles Peace Conference decision to transfer former German concessions in China to Japan. After more than a month of demonstrations, strikes and boycotts of Japanese goods, the government gave way and refused to sign the peace treaty with Germany. The movement spurred the successful reorganization of the Nationalist Party and gave birth to the Chinese Communist Party. See Wu Leichuan, 'Jidujiao zai Zhongguo de xintujing' [The New Approach of Christianity in China], Shengming yuekan 5.8 (1925): 1-3, 2. Thor Strandenaes, 'Biblical Interpretation in the Middle Kingdom', p. 87. See Robert E. Van Voorst, Reading the New Testament Today (Belmont, CA: Thomson: Wadsworth, 2005), p. 44. Wu Leichuan, 'Wo duiyu jidujiaohui de ganxiang', p. 2. See Wu Iiechuan, Judujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, pp. 11-12; Wu Leichuan, 'Shengming yuekan jinhou de shiming' [The Future Mission of life Journal], Shengming yuekan, 6.1 (1925): 7. Sze-kar Wan, 'The Emerging Hermeneutics of the Chinese Church: Debate between Wu Lei-chuan and T.C. Chao and the Chinese Christian Problematic, in Eber et al. (eds), Bible in Modern China, pp. 351-82, p. 358. The Anti-Christian Campaign (1922-1927) began in the 1920s as a sharp rise in anti-Christian sentiment, mainly on the part of antiimperialist nationalists. Following the May Fourth movement of 1919, Chinese urban intellectuals criticized religion as anti-scientific and outdated, and Christian missions and schools were condemned for cultural imperialism. Chinese Christians were accused of being the 'running dogs' of Western missionaries, who were, in turn, regarded as the 'vanguard of imperialist capitalists'. Wan, 'The Emerging Hermeneutics', p. 375. Wu Leichuan, 'Jesus as I know Him, 1/ Chinese Recorder, 61 (1930): 77. See Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, trans. W. Montgomery (London: A. & C. Black, 1910), Vol. I, p. 4, html. Cross-textual reading, also called 'cross-textual hermeneutics', applies biblical interpretation within multicultural and multiscriptural contexts. Archie C.C. Lee, professor in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, proposed this method in 1993 and has used it often as a reading strategy to analyse the writings of Chinese Christians. He adopts the word 'text' to represent Asian resources which include written texts and oral cultural forms as action-oriented sociopolitical agenda. For the Asian texts he attaches a label 'Text A' and characterizes them as native texts. He designates 'Text B' for the texts of Christianity, the 'acquired texts'. The fruitful endeavour of cross-textual hermeneutics is to facilitate conversation and dialogue between the two texts, and then to create a bridge

Interpreting the Lord's Prayer from a Confucian-Christian Perspective 133


41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48.



51. 52.

53. 54.

55. 56. 57.

to allow 'multiple crossings' between them. Since Wu Leichuan's reading of the NT focused on the relationship between the two texts: the Confucian classics and the Bible, we borrow this term to characterize his exegetical work. For Wu, the implication of the Holy Spirit casting the demon out is essentially the same as Confucius' saying, 'If the will be set on virtue, there will be no practice of wickedness/ See Confucius, Analects, Book IV in The Chinese Classics, trans. James Legge, 5 vols (Hong Kong, 1861-72). Wu considered them both as the effects of the spiritual mind and not miracles. In Wu's mind, private prayers were seen as 'an individual's quiet, solitary exercise', whereas public prayers were but articulations of solidarity with humanity. Wu Leichuan, 'Wo duiyu jidujiaohui de ganxiang', p. 4. Wan, 'The Emerging Hermeneutics', p. 375. James Brownson, unpublished course syllabus, 'Seminar in Intercultural Hermeneutics', Western Theological Seminary, Holland, MI, 2005. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo xvenhua, p. 8. Wu Leichuan, 'Shengdanjie de lianxiang: Yesu yu Kongzi' [Thoughts on Christmas: Jesus and Confucius], Shengming yuekan, 5.2 (1924): 5. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, pp. 26-7. Roman Malek, S.V.D., 'Faces and Images of Jesus Christ in the Chinese Context Introduction', in Roman Malek (ed.), The Chinese Face of Jesus Christ, Vol. 1 (Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica, 2002), p. 28. James Brownson,' "The Crucified One is Lord": Confessing the Uniqueness of Christ in a Pluralist Society7, in James I. Cook (ed.), The Church Speaks, Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), p. 132. Originally published in Chinese as chapters of a book, the English versions were published under the editorship of Wu Yaozong in the Chinese Recorder, 61 (1930): pp. 7580,141-6, 212-15, 289-90, 356-8, 429-32, 577-81, 639-43. Roman Malek, 'Faces and Images of Jesus Christ', p. 47. Philip West, 'Christianity and Nationalism: The Career of Wu Lei-ch'uan at Yenching University', in John K. Fairbank (ed.), The Missionary Enterprise in China and America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974), p. 231. Roman Malek, 'Faces and Images of Jesus Christ', p. 52. See Grace Hui Liang, 'A Survey of Biblical Studies in Mainland China: Retrospect and Prospect', unpublished lecture for ISCS Internal Seminar for Oversea Partners, Institute of Sino-Christian Studies, Hong Kong, November 2005. See Thor Strandenaes, 'Biblical Interpretation', pp. 95-100. Kiok-khng Yeo, 'Commentary on II Thessalonians, by Ronald Fung', in Jiandao, 1 (1994): 128. Brownson, 'Seminar in Intercultural Hermeneutics', pp.1-2.

8 Representing the Gospels to the Chinese Mind: T.C. Chao's Approaches to Biblical Texts in The Life of Jesus Richard X.Y. Zhang In late January and early February 1935 T.C. Chao (Zhao Zichen, 18881979), Dean of the School of Religion at Yenching University, spent three weeks of his winter holidays composing a remarkable book - The Life of Jesus. Seven decades have passed and the work still captivates the present-day reader. So many lives of Jesus were produced earlier, and so many copies of similar books have been written and forgotten afterwards. Why should this hastily penned book exert such a lasting influence on the Chinese mind? Chao's Life of Jesus has been hailed as the first, and best example of its class by a Chinese scholar. Its popularity has also been claimed to derive from the author's graceful writing style and highbrow literary taste, contributory factors to the fame the book enjoys among Chinese readers even today. Its 18 chapters are all headed with phrases from the Chinese classics,1 and Zhao's own narrative language is no less poetic and vivid. Some have suggested that the work has attracted a large readership due to the author's liberal theology, appealing to the secularized mind. It may be true that the 'demythologized' figure of Jesus felt more at home in the secular world than would the traditionally depicted God-man, but this essay eschews this line of thinking, acknowledging T.C. Chao's changes in theological stance from The Life of St Paul (finished in 1944; published in 1947) and Four Talks on Theology (1948) to his writings after the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. The fact that this Life of Jesus stands out among T.C. Chao's oeuvre has rather more to do with the author's approaches to the biblical texts. This essay, as its subtitle suggests, is relatively modest in its aims. What I am going to present here is based on personal reading experiences of the book which date back to the 1980s when I began my graduate study at Nanjing Union Theological Seminary. I have studied five editions of the book and have three of them in my personal library. In this essay I deliberately do not refer to T.C. Chao's other writings, but concentrate on the task of a detailed reading of this one text.


Representing the Gospels to the Chinese Mind


1. T.C. Chao and his influences A well-known Christian scholar in twentieth-century China, in addition to his contributions to the contemporary history of China's Protestant churches, T.C. Chao also compiled theological reflections in works on Christian dogmatic theology. Although a versatile scholar, gifted in fields such as Christian philosophy and classical Chinese literature, T.C. Chao was primarily a thinker and a systematic theologian. He never claimed to be a specialist in biblical studies or church history. Nevertheless, his treatment of biblical texts in the famous Life of Jesus (first published in 1935) is insightful not only for theologians and church historians, but also for scholars working in the field of biblical studies. It is quite clear that when he composed the book, T.C. Chao wrote as a poet, and as a devoted but informed reader, with a thorough educational background in theology and a large body of collected information available concerning his subject matter. In Chao's understanding, specialists in biblical studies might well lack the necessary imagination for a full comprehension of the life of Jesus. Chao criticized those experts who could not see the wood for the trees, and who overlooked the spirit due to an overemphasis on appearance. Chao was well aware of the achievements in historical and biblical studies of his time. He read and consulted many works by foreign authors in English and in Chinese. The more significant works in the field that T.C. Chao iterates in the introduction to his book include: Giovanni Papini, Storia di Cristo;3 W.B. Hill, Introduction to the Life of Christ? Shirley Jackson Case, Jesus: A New Biography;5 Walter Bell Denny, The Career and Significance of Jesus; Henry Burton Sharman, Records of the Life of Jesus;6 Basil Mathews, A Life of Jesus; J. Middleton Murry, Jesus: Man of Genius; Emil Ludwig, 7 The Son of Man: The story of Jesus;8 Dmitri S. Merezhkowsky, Jesus the Unknown? Ernest Renan, Life of Christ; James Moffatt, Every Man's Life of Jesus.10 Among

these and other titles, T.C. Chao held only five or six in high esteem, namely those by Case, Denny, Moffatt, Sharman and Mathews.11 The question still remains: with so many excellent works already published in different languages, why should T.C. Chao attempt another? What was unique in his Life of Jesus? What impresses a contemporary reader is how T.C. Chao consciously applies particular approaches to the biblical texts, especially the gospels, while reconstructing the life of Jesus: approaches which serve as his end purpose. Chao explains clearly in the Introduction that he wrote this life of Jesus entirely for the sake of China and the Chinese, as an effort to present the life and work of Jesus contained in the four Gospels to the Chinese mind, enumerating four reasons for publishing: But since there are already so many books on the life of Jesus in the world, why should I busy myself adding more trouble by producing another copy? To justify my work, the reasons are as follows. First, so far no one else among us Chinese has been original enough to write the life of Jesus with their own insight and understanding, completely free from the conventions formed in the


Richard X.Y. Zhang

Western scholarship ... Secondly, I have a feeling that few of us Chinese, especially among the followers of Jesus in China, really know Jesus. The Bible is difficult to read, and its interpretation varies so widely, often far-fetched, full of nonsense and pure guesswork ... In the third place, I'd like to do my bit to help the younger generation of Christians in China ... among whom are quite a few young friends who want to know Jesus, but who are frustrated when they begin to read the Bible and cannot find a way to make sense of what they are reading ... Fourthly, it is my own belief in and adoration of Jesus that encourages me to write the book ... I adore Jesus; therefore I must tell those around me his life as I understand it. This is the reason of paramount importance why I should work on this Life of Jesus.12 In the introduction, T.C. Chao explains the threefold approach he has applied to the biblical materials, namely, historical, imaginative and existential methods of interpreting the Bible. He discusses each aspect of the approach at considerable length and cites many biblical passages to illustrate his points of view. This part of more theoretical interest requires closer attention. At this point, the question might be raised: did T.C. Chao achieve what he aspired to? The answer is yes: he had good reason to regard his work as head and shoulders above works written by past and contemporary Western authors on the same subject. His Life of Jesus stands shoulder to shoulder with other works produced several decades later, such as Michael Grant's Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels.13 In the following section I provide a preliminary analysis of T.C. Chao's biblical exposition as demonstrated in his composition of The Life of Jesus.

2. T.C. Chao's approaches to the biblical texts In writing The Life of Jesus, Chao did not claim to be a theorist in biblical interpretation or exegesis. But when we read this outstanding work carefully and critically, we encounter numerous impressive passages, and New Testament characters vividly depicted with a personal touch. From these passages and characters we can draw out some underlying ideas. Since T.C. Chao has never theorized his methodological ideas, we might use the term 'principles' instead. The following presentation attempts to draw out the basic characteristics of his approaches to biblical texts. A thorough and comprehensive analysis awaits further research: at this stage I merely offer some illustrations from the book, annotated with my personal interpretation. The first most obvious trait in T.C. Chao's interpretation of the gospels is its theocentric, instead of christocentric, nature. In this Life of Jesus, the famous confession made by Peter ('You are the Messiah')14 occurs only in Chapter 11, and the seven remaining chapters do not emphasize the identification of Jesus with Christ, as one would expect. Let us read what T.C. Chao actually writes about this great event of Peter's confession:

Representing the Gospels to the Chinese Mind


Jesus acknowledges this confession of Peter in front of the apostles, and the fact that others do not raise any disagreement implies that what Peter has confessed is also what they have understood in their mind and have not spoken out. Therefore Jesus asks them not to spread this word to the outside - for his time has not yet come - lest it should cause pointless disputes. The Christ Peter has confessed is clearly not the Christ his contemporaries, those who belong to the flesh, would have expected. But for God's direction, but for his spiritual and upright intuition, Peter should never have obtained so profound an insight as this. This insight is the rock, for the heavenly kingdom should be based upon the life of Christ. Wherever there is a fellowship with the life of Christ shared by Jesus, there is the heavenly kingdom, to which the key is love, the love of sacrificing self and life.1* The popular concept of Christ during the time, as T.C. Chao saw it, falls in the category of the eschatological: the Christ of this nature must appear as a militant and conquering Messiah rather than a loving and crucified Christ.16 T.C. Chao made numerous criticisms of this kind of eschatology,17 and also described emphatically an exalted doctrine of God preached by Jesus.18 Chao's shift from a traditional Christian standpoint which is both trinitarian and christological, is primarily based on his own theological conviction. But comprehensibility for the Chinese mindset must also be taken into consideration. Another point worth noting, is the background against which T.C. Chao wrote his Life of Jesus. In the late 1920s and early 1930s some Christian intellectuals were preaching a new 'ism', that is 'Jesus-ism' (Yesu zhu yi W>%k^X), laying emphasis entirely on the human side of Jesus and rejecting any articulation of his divinity. In the wider international context, personalism was in full swing. T.C. Chao evidently came under the influence of this trend of thought, stressing the significance of concepts of person and personality for ethical and religious life. T.C. Chao applies this approach also to other biblical texts, for instance, in interpreting the critical passage of Mt. 12.46-50: While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, 'Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.' But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, 'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' And pointing to his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother. This passage is particularly difficult for the Chinese reader who holds in high regard the traditional Confucian or Ruist value of filial piety [xiao). T.C. Chao esteems highly the ethical demand of filial piety, often interpreting the scriptural texts in the light of Chinese tradition. For instance, after the description of the story of the 12-year-old Jesus found


Richard X.Y. Zhang

by Joseph and Mary in the Temple 'sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions' (Lk. 2.46 NRSV), Chao writes: Soon they went out of the Temple, and set out for Nazareth in the company of some others. During this time Jesus had gained deep inspiration, received a profound enlightenment and understood an unfathomable love. He is all the more filially pious towards his parents and obedient unto them. Jesus is gone, but those who are in the Temple, the preaching doctors and the audience alike, are left astonished, all praising the child as lovely and bright, with wisdom of God in him.19 The text of Lk. 2.52 'And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour' supports the author's theocentric approach to the gospels. In his narration of the story of the Prodigal Son, T.C. Chao also reads into the text the typical Chinese idea of filial piety.20 The ethical, rather than the metaphysical, is a noticeable characteristic of T.C. Chao's work of biblical interpretation. The third important characteristic of this work is its poetic nature. It is difficult to imagine that this life of Jesus was written by a systematic theologian, given its absence of dogmatism. Chao was well aware of its forerunners. Take Papini's The Life of Christ, for example; a book which earned its author international fame as a bestseller and was regarded as a religious novel. T.C. Chao mentions in his Introduction that imagination plays an important part, and is even the prerequisite,21 for writing his life of Jesus, and anticipates criticism from those who do not appreciate this way of writing a biography or who would identify the use of the imagination with fiction. To such an imagined criticism, T.C. Chao retorts: This remark is right and wrong. It is right because I originally planned to write a novel, but was too timid to try due to my lack of competence for the task. But if I were to produce finally a dull historical book, who in the present-day China would want to read it carefully? Human beings are fond of concrete humans and events. What Jesus has said and done is all poetry and also full of elements of a novel, for first-class novels are most like religious works. The remark is wrong, since the present Life of Jesus was written in accordance with historical order: all the recorded words and deeds of Jesus are based on scriptural texts which have undergone strict criticism. If a reader forgets this point, it is better for him to close this life-story at once. No matter who writes a Life of Jesus, the author cannot help letting imagination fly. However, it is not 100 per cent correct to let imagination fly, for imagination should be baptized in the blood of Jesus. For instance, Renan's Life of Jesus, Murry's Jesus: Man of Genius, Ludwig's The Son of Man are all works set free from imagination, but these authors all make guesses from within a secular mindset and as a result, without exception, they do not really understand Jesus.22

Representing the Gospels to the Chinese Mind


In connection with this imaginative approach to the biblical texts is what we might term T.C. Chao's sympathetic interpretation. Chen Yinke (18901969), the great historian of twentieth-century China, insists on a 'sympathetic understanding' when evaluating a historical figure. T.C. Chao was applying a strikingly similar method when he reads and interprets texts in the gospels. Chao terms this method of sympathetic interpretation 'seeking imagination and sympathy for understanding'.23 This is best illustrated in his treatment of Mary Magdalene. But one wonders whether even in this case, sympathetic could more appropriately be replaced by the Einfuhlung, or its English equivalent 'empathetic'. In T.C. Chao's mind, Mary Magdalene is one of the most significant figures recorded in the gospels. He mentions her in several places in The Life of Jesus. The most detailed description is in Chapter 2, where the key passage reads as follows: One day, when she was making a big fuss over nothing, Jesus passed by. Having heard other people talking about her, Jesus stopped and looked at her among the people. As she noticed his eyes fixed on her, she stopped laughing and tears came immediately, gazing with wide-opened eyes she cried after a moment loudly 'That's it!' She then ran swiftly home. In Jesus she received life at that eternal moment, the life of the cosmic heart, of the man's innermost, which was not available to all other ordinary women. Jesus met her several times later, talking with her about his own aspiration and cause. She became calm again and started to behave as a gentle and tender person. Therefore it was said that Jesus had cured her by driving out the seven demons that used to dwell in her body. Mary Magdalene, the woman who followed Jesus to the very end, do we still remember her? She feared not suffering and hardship; she served Jesus and provided him with daily necessities and followed him wherever she was able. She was present at the cross, she was present at the tomb gate, and is bound to have her presence in today's most beautiful fife in the world.24 T.C. Chao admits in the Introduction that the paragraph on Mary Magdalene judged by historical records may be called sheer fiction, whereas he cannot but regard her as a marvellous lady 'judging by common sense and measuring by reasonable criteria, having seen the loyalty she demonstrated in her lifelong following of Jesus'.25 It is worth noting that T.C. Chao's depiction of such a remarkable woman in the early Christian community, whose life was utterly changed by Jesus, came several decades earlier than Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Needless to say, Dan Brown was no biblical scholar or historian or theologian, and he drew heavily upon sources mentioned in Chapter 60 of his novel. But none of these, including the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library were available to T.C. Chao when he wrote his Life of Jesus and represented Mary Magdalene. Truly, such writing is


Richard X.Y. Zhang

impossible without great imagination and guesswork, as T.C. Chao acknowledged.26 The next trait of significance evident in reviewing T.C. Chao's reading of biblical texts is his unswerving preference for a historical over a mythological interpretation. There are many examples of this sort in the book, such as the explanation of the miracle of five loaves and two fish27 or the raising of Lazarus.28 This does not mean that T.C. Chao completely denied the possibility of miracles. Far from it. We can read some moving passages he wrote on miracles,29 such as where he affirms the healing power of Jesus by saying: "The wholehearted compassion, the marvellous personality, the pure faith, and the touch full of love, what all these can accomplish is though unexpected often not un-natural... /30 Finally, there is a humanist element in T.C. Chao's biblical reading, and this can be taken as the sixth characteristic of his approaches to the biblical texts. True, Jesus is a religious figure and the gospels are mainly religious documents. But in order to understand Jesus and to interpret the gospels one cannot confine oneself to strictly religious perspectives. There are countless examples in this regard, with the following paragraph giving a good illustration: Among the problems of human life the most fundamental are those concerning food and sex. In the heavenly kingdom, human beings are to extend God's love to the relation between sexes, and to the economy. God is the Father, humans are therefore all relatives; among humans one ought to demonstrate a respect for personality in everything. The starting-point of Jesus' thought is faith in God and faith in humans, therefore he sets up the highest and ideal standard for all relationships, such as, loving your enemy and turning the other cheek.31 To T.C. Chao's mind, the precondition for understanding Jesus' inner life is 'compassion and magnanimity'.32 Another illustrative interpretation T. C. Chao provides in his Life of Jesus is his harmonizing of the difficult account of a sinful woman who came to weep at Jesus' feet during the banquet offered by Simon (Lk. 7.36-50). This woman is often identified with Mary Magdalene with little solid reason. In T.C. Chao's narration, 'She approaches, and disciples look at her, having a feeling that she looks like a shadow of Mary Magdalene, resembling her in manner and appearance, though looking older, thinner and more pallid than Mary Magdalene.'33 Jesus' words to Simon sound strange, 'Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little' (Lk. 7.47, NRSV). T.C. Chao adds an explanation here which draws on Confucius' Analects: 'A gentleman will keep respectful rituals in daily life, wouldn't the God-man do better?'34 Jesus here does not want to embarrass Simon directly, but adopts an oblique approach so as to encourage Simon to recognize his own problem. Such an explanation is typical of the humanist tradition nourished in Confucianism in China. T.

Representing the Gospels to the Chinese Mind


C. Chao's treatment of Judas is another example which betrays his humanist mode of interpretation. In sum, Chao's Life of Jesus provides a rich example of how a Chinese Christian's interpretive effort brings the gospels to the mind of his compatriots. Chao's biblical readings remind us of hermeneutical practices developed simultaneously and later in the West, such as Bonhoeffer's non-religious interpretation of the Bible. The Life of Jesus by T.C. Chao reveals its importance as a depository of hidden treasure, that calls for further unearthing to test theories in biblical reading in particular and in hermeneutics in general.35

Notes 1. Regrettably the editors of Zhao Zizhen wenji [Works of T.C. Qiao], Vol 1 and 2 (Beijing: The Commercial Press, 2003), omit all the sources the author provided for these quotations in earlier editions. Nevertheless, I will refer to this edition throughout this essay as it is a more accessible and recent reprint. 2. For instance, from the perspective of a comparative study, Chs 5 and 6 in T.C. Chao's An Interpretation of Christianity (written in 1943, first published in 1947) are significant and worth frequent quoting. An overall evaluation of T.C. Chao's interpretation of the Bible and of christology would require a more thorough examination of his other works. 3. Giovanni Papini (1881-1956), an Italian writer. The English trans, of his book The Life of Christ was acclaimed as a huge bestseller (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1923). 4. W.B. Hill (New York: Charles Scribner, 1911). 5. Shirley Jackson Case, Jesus: A New Bibliography (Westport, CO: Greenwood Press, 1927). 6. Henry Burton Sharman (1865-1953), a University of Chicago scientist and theologian; his book was first published in New York by Harper & Row in 1917; a new edition has appeared using the RSV. 7. J. Middleton Murry (New York: Harper, 1926). 8. Emil Ludwig (1881-1948), a well-known writer originally from Austria. This book was translated from the German by Eden and Cedar Paul, with illustrations after Rembrandt, and published in 1928. 9. Also spelt as Dmitry Sergeyevich Merezhkovsky (New York: Charles Scribner, 1934). 10. James Moffatt, Scottish biblical scholar and translator (1870-1944). 11. Works of T.C. Chao, Vol. I, pp. 458, 463. (Hereafter Works, Vol. I) 12. Works, Vol. I, pp. 455-6. All quotes from The Life of Jesus are my own translation. 13. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1977. One will note many resemblances between Chao's and Grant's treatment of materials contained in the gospels. 14. 'He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God"' (Mt. 16.16, NRSV). In Ch. 9, Christ is mentioned as one of guesses the masses have made when they have heard and seen what Jesus has said and done (Works, Vol. I, pp. 545f.). 15. Works, Vol. I, p. 567. 16. Works, Vol. I, p. 568. 17. For instance, Works, Vol. I, p. 462, 476. 18. Works, Vol. I, p. 502. 19. Works, Vol. I, p. 484. 20. While the Lukan text never mentions filial piety in this case, Chao writes in an introductory sentence, ' ^ A ^ ' F ^ i f i ' [A dutiful son does not show filial piety] (Works, Vol. I, p. 511), in an attempt to reproduce a similar effect to sin (Lk. 15.18) or transgression (Lk. 15.29) on the non-Chinese mind.


Richard X.Y. Zhang

21. Works, Vol. I, p. 456. 22. Works, Vol. I, p. 466. 23. Wbrfcs, Vol. I, p. 456. Chao explains the expression with another pair of phrases, namely, kuiqing $c11f and duoli SM (Works, Vol. I, p. 456; the latter two phrases usually form a set phrase: 'to weigh the pros and cons', or 'judging by common sense and measuring by reasonable criteria'. 24. Works, Vol. I, pp. 487-^8. 25. Works, Vol. I, pp. 464-5. 26. T.C. Chao made use of the Apocryphal New Testament, ed. M.R. James (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1924). A recent reprint of this collection is under the title The New Testament Apocrypha (Berkeley, CA: Apocryphile Press, 2004). T.C. Chao cites on several occasions passages from Enoch (Works, Vol. I, pp. 475, 495). 27. Works, Vol. I, p. 556. 28. Works, Vol. I, pp. 551-2. 29. For instance, Works, Vol. I, pp. 527-8. 30. Works, Vol. I, p. 527. 31. Works, Vol. I, p. 538. 32. Works, Vol. I, p. 531. 33. Works, Vol. I, p. 531. 34. Works, Vol. I, p. 532 35. Such as, for instance, whether the theory of 'Heritagjst readings' holds for this work: see R.S. Sugirtharajah, Postcolonial Criticism and Biblical Interpretation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 55-60.

9 Reading the Sermon on the Mount in China: A Hermeneutical Enquiry into its History of Reception John Y.H. Yieh In Chinese intellectual history, moral discourse has always occupied a seat of honour. Moral tradition has been, and continues to be, developed through education and policy to shape the ethos of the people, as testified by the vast and growing literature of commentaries on Confucian classics, Daoist philosophy, Buddhist scriptures and communist ideology. Tales of zhong, xiao, jie, yi (loyalty, filial piety, chastity, integrity) are celebrated and enjoyed in popular novels, song and theatre. In a culture that reveres moral values as its social fibre and believes in the power of moral ideas to change personal life and create social good, how is Jesus' 'Sermon on the Mount', the great charter of Christian ethics, read and received? In this essay, I examine the writings and sermons of three leading Chinese Christian figures of the twentieth century, Wu Leichuan, Wang Mingdao and Ding Guangxun (K.H. Ting), to see how they each used the Sermon on the Mount to present their theological views and address their particular concerns. The three have different educational backgrounds, ecclesial responsibilities and groups of followers, so their readings of the Sermon on the Mount offer a limited but useful sample to see how traditional Chinese reading practices and recent Western hermeneutical theories might have shaped their interpretive works. They hold diverse theological perspectives on the nature and function of the Bible and advocate contending views on the Church's relationship with the state, so they represent a broad spectrum of theological positions among ordinary Chinese Christians. Furthermore, precisely because they are so diverse in educational background and theological outlook, the similarities they share in cultural presuppositions, reading strategies and basic concerns may then offer significant clues for us to identify some common - perhaps even typical - hermeneutical traits, which may be called 'Chinese'. In short, this essay seeks to understand how Jesus' 'sermon' as reported in Mt. 5-7 has been read and received among Chinese Christians, to whom preaching a sermon (jiangdao) means proclaiming the way (dad) or expounding moral principle (daoli). By investigating the works of three influential Chinese interpreters on the Christian sermon par excellence, it is my hope to explore some of the ways in which Chinese Christians read 143


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the Scripture and to engage in a cross-cultural reflection on the uses and effects of their readings, the result of which may challenge and enrich the critical discipline of biblical hermeneutics across cultures and deepen mutual understanding between the churches in the global North and the global South. It is important to note at the outset that these interpreters did not seek to explain the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount in the format of 'critical commentary' that 'professional7 biblical scholars in the West are used to (verse-by-verse annotation, etymological, form-critical, redaction-critical, or theological notes). Rather, they cite or refer to pertinent texts in the Sermon, giving brief comments on their meanings without explicit references to literary or historical contexts, only to promote or support their discussion of particular issues or themes, such as Jesus' idea of the Kingdom of heaven, the Christian way of life, or the Church's civic responsibilities. Instead of offering detailed exegesis, their aim was to construct a larger argument or thesis. In other words, they approach the Sermon in each case as historian, preacher and theologian rather than a biblical scholar in textual studies. To evaluate their use of the Sermon fairly, we shall ask whether or not their understanding of the text is justifiable within the range of semantic possibility, without requiring them to demonstrate the whole exegetical process of considering text and context. More to the point, we shall ask whether or not their application of the text to their larger argument is coherent, without prejudging their theological conclusions. In order to construct a hermeneutical analysis of their use of the Bible, I have adopted the probing device that David Kelsey designed. In his book, The Uses of Scripture in Recent Theology (1975), Kelsey raised four 'diagnostic' questions to help him analyse seven influential theologians from a wide spectrum of persuasions on their construal and use of biblical texts in the constructing of their theologies.1 1. 2. 3. 4.

What aspect(s) of scripture is (are) taken to be authoritative? What makes this aspect of scripture authoritative? What sort of logical force is ascribed to this aspect of scripture? How is the cited scripture brought to bear on theological proposals?2

These four questions provide a common frame of reference to compare and contrast the ways in which the three selected Chinese Christian leaders appropriate scripture. They are heuristic questions concerning the hermeneutical assumptions and logical arguments that a reader or interpreter makes while making sense of the text. They are also methodological questions for procedural analysis to show what strategies or rationales a theologian or preacher adopts while appropriating certain aspects of the text to construct theological arguments.

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1. Wu Leichuan (1869-1944) Wu Leichuan acquired the degree oijinshi and served as an academician in the prestigious State Hanlin Academy. Later, he taught Chinese literature at Yenching (Yanjing) University in Beijing and became its first Chinese chancellor. Writing chiefly for academic readers in the 1920s through to the 1940s, he was particularly concerned about the challenges of anti-Christian nationalism and scientism on college campuses. Wu lived through a tumultuous time in modern China. In 1911 Sun Yat-sen overthrew the Qing Dynasty to establish the first republic in Asia and abolished several unequal treaties with other countries. The Chinese people proclaimed a renewed measure of self-confidence. Before long, however, the jubilation was shattered by continuous fighting among war-lords, such as Yuan Shikai, who made a brief attempt to reinstate the imperial system. Civil war between the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party (Guomindang) ensued. The aggression of Japan, a new colonial power in the East, led to eight years of Sino-Japanese War (193139). During the republican era, the Chinese people suffered so many devastating wars that the survival of the nation preoccupied everybody's mind, and nationalism rose to new heights.3 This was most dramatically demonstrated in the May Fourth movement (1919) and its aftermath, which began with a student demonstration against the handing-over of Germany's colony in Shangdong to Japan at the Paris Conference without regard to Chinese sovereignty.4 Nationalism was expressed in the 'Non-Christian Alliance' (1922-24), a nationwide student protest against the World Student Christian Federation, which held its annual meeting at Tsinghua (Qinghua) University in Beijing on 1 April 1922.5 Students in Shanghai, soon followed by those in Beijing, voiced their objection to allowing foreign student delegates to meet at a Chinese university. They condemned Christianity as co-conspirator with the Western colonial powers. Calling for educational sovereignty, they demanded to take over church-run universities and eliminate religious curricula.6 Cai Yuanpei, President of Peking (Beijing) University, was a key supporter of this alliance, and he proposed replacing religious studies with aesthetics. Scientism posed another serious challenge to the Chinese Church in the twentieth century. Since modernization was understood to be Westernization, the 'new knowledge' of the West, such as Darwin's theory of evolution, Marx's materialistic view of history, Russell's economic socialism and Dewey's pragmatism, was insatiably absorbed and indiscriminately transported to China by scholars trained in Europe and the USA. Most of these new ideologies or theories were critical of the Christian tradition. Their proponents in China also condemned the Chinese Church as outdated, pre-scientific, anti-modern and detrimental to the progress of a new China. Most notable was the 'New Culture Movement' (1917) led by Hu Shih (Hu Shi), a philosophy professor at Beijing University and a leader of the Baihuawen (vernacular language) movement. Hu Shih believed that only science and democracy could bring progress and save China from poverty and weakness. He


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advocated re-evaluating traditional culture and criticized Christianity as a superstitious religion, though tolerable for its moral teaching.7 To show the traditionalists that Christianity did not conflict with Chinese culture, Wu Leichuan introduced Jesus as 'Skeng tianzi' (holy son of heaven), the sage-king who performed the functions of king, prophet and priest.8 He also compared the Holy Spirit to the idea of ren (benevolence), the highest virtue in Confucianism in terms of function in the life of believers.9 In response to scientism which prized 'reason' as the yardstick for a progressive mind, Wu once wrote, 'religious emotions are inspired by the recognition of reason'.10 In Wu's view, the purpose of religion was not simply to offer personal salvation but to reform society (gaizao shehui), a leitmotif in his writings.11 By transforming believers' moral character with the virtue of love and sacrifice that Jesus has demonstrated in his life, Wu believed that the ethos of the whole society would be improved. So, an authentic church that follows Jesus as the moral paradigm could play a crucial part in shaping China's future by training capable leaders with moral character and by rejuvenating good Chinese culture.12 Wu's proposal of saving the nation through character formation (renge jiuguo), vis-a-vis Hu Shih's saving the nation through science (kexue jiuguo), reveals a deeply held conviction in Confucian tradition, namely that of becoming a sage inside and governing society outside (neisheng waiwang), which regards selfcultivation of moral character as the first step in the ordering of family, the ruling of the nation and finally the peace of the world.13 Wu's view of the Bible Wu read the Bible as a historical text and adopted a historical-critical approach. He regarded prophetic claims, the virgin birth and miracle stories as literary expressions of faith experience,14 and focused on Jesus' renge (character) because it was the perfect paradigm for reforming human hearts and human society.15 He considered Jesus' teachings universally valid, because they were attested by numerous parallels found in Chinese classics. Some ancient laws and customs were culturespecific, however, so should be reinterpreted or removed according to 'modern' or 'progressive' views. Wu was most interested in Jesus' life and teaching, so the four canonical gospels were his favourite texts. He rarely referred to the Old Testament, and favoured James' emphasis on the work of love over Paul's doctrine of justification by faith. Wu's reading of the Sermon on the Mount Wu's readings of the Sermon on the Mount are mostly found in his summary of Jesus' teaching in three major books: Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua [Christianity and Chinese Culture],16 Jidutu de xiwang [The Hope of Christians]17 and Modi yu Yesu [Mozi and Jesus].18 The following are three texts in the Sermon that Wu most frequently cited. 1. The Lord's Prayer. Wu considered the Lord's Prayer the most important teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He published a

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series of six articles in Zhenli zhoukan [Truth Weekly] in 1923-24,19 and discussed it at relative length in the three books mentioned above.20 This model prayer was not given simply as a liturgical text for worship, Wu insisted, but as a blueprint for the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus' followers should reflect on it everyday until it is internalized and becomes the common goal of the Church. For a genuine follower, it should serve as the l?asic method for the cultivation of renge' and the 'practical guideline to the reforming of Chinese society'.21 Wu interpreted the opening address to God, 'Our Father', to mean that believers should love others as their brothers, if they confess God to be the father of all humanity. To pray 'Hallowed be thy name' means to make a commitment to honour God by loving justice and obeying truth, because those are what please God. To pray 'Thy kingdom come' means to serve society so well that God's mercy and justice may be realized in this world; that is, to transform the old society and make it new. To pray 'Thy will be done' means to make every effort to ensure the success of social reform. To pray 'Give us today our daily bread' means to abolish all unfair political and social systems that have caused poverty and injustice, and to be content with necessary provisions without greed; in other words, to redistribute material goods fairly. 'Forgive our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors' means to forgive and be reconciled with each other, with the Confucian idea of shudao (forgiveness, reciprocity), that we may find peace in our hearts and promote peace in the world. 'Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil' means that we need to resist temptations and prevent disasters in order to create a safe environment for all people. Wu emphasized that these petitions may be regarded as the creed of social reform and the programme of psychological reform. It was very wise of Jesus, Wu thought, to turn these petitions into a liturgical text for communal use, so his followers could recite and internalize it together to shape their common vision and values. Wu's view of the Kingdom of heaven as an ideal society to be realized in this world by following Jesus' teaching of love and sacrifice may very well have been influenced by the 'Social Gospel' movement made popular by Walter Rauschenbusch in the USA,22 and promoted in China by Wu Yaozong.23 2. The first beatitude ('Blessed are the poor') and 'Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all that you need will be added to you' (Mt. 6.33). (Note that Wu cited the beatitude from Lk. 6.20 instead of the spiritualized version of Mt. 5.3.) Wu often cited these two texts together to emphasize that the Kingdom of heaven that Jesus envisioned was a society of economic equality, where all work hard and receive what they need, without disparity between the rich and the poor, and is indeed an ideal communist society without private ownership.24 Wu believed that, by building a new society with economic justice for all, collective wealth would increase and every member will be guaranteed to receive what is needed. He also cited Mt. 6.24 on not serving Mammon to declare God's special concern for the poor.25 It is noteworthy that the immediate context of Mt. 6.33 on striving first for the kingdom of God


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encourages believers to trust a loving God to care for their needs, but Wu used it to highlight economic reform in the Kingdom of heaven. Wu may have in mind the brutal oppression and heavy taxation of the Roman masters over the Jews in ancient Palestine, which might be the historical context of these dominical sayings. He may also be thinking of the refugees and the farmers suffering from hunger and deprivation in wartorn China. 3. 'Do not resist any evil doer' (Mt. 5.39). This is another verse discussed more than once. On resisting no evil, Wu agreed in theory that Christians should demonstrate their love even for their enemies, but he considered the principle of 'non-resistance' unreasonable and useless. It should be used rarely under special circumstances, he contended, because, in reality, it could encourage evil doers' aggression against the innocent. Wu understood this saying as concerning the principle of the great love, and conceded that it might be adopted in making individual ethical decisions, but he insisted that it should not be applied to the law at the level of the society or the state. Perhaps Wu had seen enough lawlessness and injustice in human lives and in government actions; the experience of China being bullied and robbed by the Western colonial powers may have convinced him, as it did other intellectuals, of the need to fight back for survival rather than show weakness in submission. Wu believed that bloodshed might sometimes be necessary because social reform, being revolution, requires political power, and political power can be acquired only through the use of force or violence. The ends of greater good justify the means, so Wu felt no constraint in refuting this principle as self-indulgent.26 It would be interesting to find out what he might have to say about Gandhi's successful use of non-violent resistance in gaining independence from the British empire for India and Pakistan. In Wu's interpretive scheme, it seems that reason and experience take priority in deciding whether or how one should follow the plain sense of the text. Reason is given the royal throne, so even Jesus' teaching needs to be critically judged for its applicability. In both his comments on the Lord's Prayer and the non-violent-resistance principle, there is also a tendency to appropriate the text pragmatically. A Chinese Christian per Confucian scholar, Wu's hermeneutic circle always begins with the concerns and needs of his nation suffering in stress and crisis. A hermeneutical analysis How did Wu interpret and use the Sermon on the Mount to develop his argument of social reform and salvation through strength of character? We will now use David Kelsey's four questions to reflect briefly on the three samples we have just examined. 1. What aspect(s) of scripture is (are) taken to be authoritative? Wu read the Sermon on the Mount as a historical source of Jesus' teaching, which he deemed to be valid and valuable across cultures and times. In most cases, he accepted the plain sense of the dominical sayings as authoritative and instructive, but took them out of Matthew's literary context and placed them in Jesus' ideological context. The Lord's Prayer,

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a liturgical text, was read as Jesus' social programme for the Kingdom of heaven. Wu did not accept every saying of Jesus as authoritative for modern times: resisting no evildoer, for instance, was judged to be unreasonable and unfeasible. 2. What makes this aspect of scripture authoritative? Wu regarded the text as authoritative, because they were teachings of Jesus, the sheng tianzi (Holy Son of Heaven) whose wisdom had been time-tested for almost two millennia and endorsed by similar ideas found in Chinese sages. For Wu, Jesus' sayings carried authority not because Jesus had divine prerogative as the Son of God but because his sayings had high moral value. In fact, Wu bracketed out Jesus' divinity and miracles from discussion in his book, claiming they were too mystical to fathom and too controversial to be helpful. 3. What sort of logical force is ascribed to this aspect of scripture? Wu stood on a sound exegetical ground, when he used Jesus' central message, the Kingdom of heaven, as the hermeneutical key to unlock the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount. He was right to place those sayings in the religious, social, political and psychological contexts of Jesus' time, even if some of his historical knowledge was debatable. Evidently, he assumed that Jesus was committed to one central theme the Kingdom of heaven - in all his teachings, in the same manner that a Chinese shengren (sage) or junzi (gentleman) would have held ren (love) or yi (integrity, righteousness) at the core of his belief system. Confucius, for instance, once declared, 'Wudao yi yi guanzi' (My doctrine is that of an all-pervading unity).27 So, Wu felt justified in correlating various sayings of Jesus with that central theme. Obviously, NT scholars in the West might have asked some more questions, such as the composition of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew in comparison to the Sermon on the Plain in Luke, the earlier form of the Lord's Prayer in Q, the meaning of the Kingdom of heaven in Matthew, Luke and Jesus, before they would endorse the connection that Wu made between the Sermon on the Mount and the Kingdom of heaven. One should not accuse Wu of eisegesis too hastily, however. He was not writing a critical commentary on the Sermon on the Mount: he was using it to construct, as it were, a biblical theology of Jesus. Like Karl Barth in debate with Rudolf Bultmann over the proper way to interpret Paul's Letter to the Romans, Wu's reading of the Sermon took the approach of Sachkritik, not Formgeschichte.28 In his letters, the Apostle Paul often used Jewish ideas and scriptural language from the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) to explain Jesus' significance for the Gentile Church. In a similar manner, Wu often used Confucian concepts and terms from Chinese philosophy to introduce Jesus' ideas to the Chinese elites. Because of his distinguished educational background in traditional culture, 'cross-textual reading' (between Christian Scripture and Chinese classics) was a natural way for Wu to process the reading of biblical text, to find its relevance for contemporary issues, and to construct a new faith narrative for his Chinese readers. His cross-textual method can be properly called 'indigenization' or 'inculturation'. His effort to use Jesus' teachings to construct a reform programme for Chinese society, additionally, is


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'contextualization' seeking to meet the challenges of the May Fourth movement, which many of his friends in the Life Fellowship, such as Zhao Zichen (T.C. Chao) and Xu Baoqian, were doing in varied ways.29 4. How is the cited scripture brought to bear on theological proposals? First of all, Wu understood Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount to be the ideals of the Kingdom of heaven. Convinced that the Kingdom could be realized in the present world, he interpreted Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount as workable guidelines for constructing a new society for the Chinese people. Finally, because Christians were supposed to follow Jesus' renge (character) and commandments, he urged all genuine followers of Jesus to participate in the reconstruction of society in the endangered China. 2. Wang Mingdao (1900-91) Wang Mingdao was a well-known preacher in conservative circles, who founded a large independent church in Beijing (starting in his home in 1925).30 Never attending a seminary, he taught himself theology through disciplined and meticulous reading of the Bible. He published a wellsubscribed journal called Lingshi jikan [Spiritual Food Quarterly] and travelled nationwide to lead Bible studies and retreats. Because he refused to sign the Christian Manifesto and register his church with the Bureau of Religious Affairs in 1950, he was jailed for 23 years. As a result, however, he won worldwide recognition and respect as a symbol of religious persecution and faithful leadership. Wang was keenly aware of the challenges of nationalism and scientism to Christian faith, but he did not think 'modernists' such as Wu Leichuan, Zhao Zichen, or Wu Yaozong and his social gospel agenda provided the right answer. Wang did not consider them true church leaders, because some of them accepted the liberal ideas of Harry Fosdick31 and questioned such doctrines as the inerrancy of the Bible, the virgin birth, the atonement, the resurrection and the second coming of Jesus. Wang called them buxinpai (faction of unbelievers) and criticized them as worse than outsiders, because in Wang's view they were leading believers astray from the truth of faith.32 He refused to be united with them, and justified his criticism by quoting such scriptures as: 'Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness?' (2 Cor. 6.14), and 'Be aware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves' (Mt. 7.15, from the Sermon on the Mount).33 Wang did not agree with their social gospel agenda. Recognizing the sinful tendency in human nature, he did not believe moral character (renge) could save anyone, let alone the nation. Wang insisted that it was not possible to build an ideal society, because humanity had become so depraved by sin that it could only wait for divine judgement.34 Only through chongshen (being born again) can a sinner be made a xinren (new person) inside his or her jiuren (old person), and only by striving daily to overcome the sinful habits of

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the old person will this new person grow strong enough to bear good fruit and honour God. When the final judgement comes, only saved souls will be raised up to live with God forever. With a strongly negative view of human nature and society, Wang believed the only purpose of Christians living in the world is to preach the gospel to others so that they may be rescued by God's grace to escape from the divine wrath. Thus, he saw his mission as to save souls, not to reform society.35 To ensure that his followers will receive eternal life at the final judgement, Wang urged them to study the Bible earnestly and carefully so that they may find God's will to obey and be able to overcome the temptations of sin. To help them mature spiritually, his sermons were always biblically based and aimed at cultivating spiritual virtues. They typically address specific issues and concrete cases of human nature, habits, attitudes, behaviours and relationships, and provide practical lessons for spiritual growth, in a way very much like the Western tradition of psychagogy (Seelsorge) or spiritual direction. Wang's view of the Bible In Wang's view, the Bible is the Word of God. It reveals the saving grace of God to us and that knowledge leads us to believe in God and his grace through Christ, so is the foundation of our faith and salvation. Wang also believed the Bible to be divinely inspired, and tried to prove this in eight ways.36 Since the Bible is divinely inspired, it is inerrant except for the mistakes made by scribes and interpreters. It is also historically reliable as a record, including the report of miracles. As the Word of God, every single word of it should be accepted. To deny or question a part is to deny and question the whole Bible. Because it has absolute authority, Wang wrote, 'The Bible is the only criteria by which I preach and minister the church/ 37 Wang's reading of the Sermon on the Mount Liberal scholars of Wang's time were so impressed by Jesus' moral character, religious experience and wise teaching that the Sermon on the Mount became a favourite text for many of them. Besides Wu Leichuan, Wu Yaozong had given a moving account of his first encounter with the Sermon, which became an experience of conversion for him.38 The Sermon struck him like a thunderbolt, he wrote, waking up his soul. Suddenly, he was enlightened and could see Jesus' renge and noble teaching shining through those three chapters of Matthew. Wu Yaozong was overjoyed and tearful, and that night accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. It took a whole lifetime for him, however, to figure out why the Sermon struck him so deeply. The Sermon on the Mount, he said, offered him a very satisfying philosophy of life and revealed Jesus to him as a genuine sage who practised his teaching. Wang Mingdao agreed that the Sermon was given to show the world how high the standard of spiritual and moral life should be, but he maintained that it was not the only teaching worth following. The whole Bible contains God's will and every


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teaching therein should be obeyed. In Wang's view, the Sermon was given to the disciples, i.e. born-again believers, because only those given new life would be able to attain the high moral standard that Jesus set.39 Wang argued that the Sermon on the Mount revealed not only Jesus's renge, but also his divinity and his mission. Let us look at a few examples of his comments on the text of the Sermon. 1. 'You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world ... In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven' (Mt. 5.13-16). Wang preached a sermon on this passage, entitled 'The Christians who glorify God'.40 He started by asking 'Who are the Christians who can bring glory to God?' Not those who pray three times a day, not those who read a few chapters of the Bible every day, and not those who attend every church meeting, but those who show good behaviour to others. These religious practices are indeed indispensable for Christians, Wang admitted, but people outside the Church pay no attention to such religious things. They pay close attention to Christians' behaviour, however, because it has most to do with their own lives and with God's glory. Wang talked about how some pious Christians had become stumbling-blocks to outsiders, because their behaviour did not match their faith. From there, he began to lament the fact that some church leaders were to blame for not teaching and admonishing Christians to pursue a pious life, with behaviour that can bring glory to God. In this sermon, Wang did not explain the metaphors of salt or light, but focused on the purpose of the saying. By showing how not all pious Christians have good behaviour, he urged his followers to take seriously Jesus' injunction to behave well and do good in order to glorify God. In another sermon, entitled 'The light of the world', Wang spoke to a passage from Jn 8: 'Jesus said: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life' (Jn 8.12) side by side with Mt. 5.14-16: 'You are the light of the world ... give glory to your Father in heaven.'41 He began by describing how Jesus enlightened people by revealing God's love and truth to those who were searching in darkness. Jesus also disclosed and condemned human sins and was therefore rejected by the wicked. Now that Jesus has returned to God in heaven, who shall continue his mission as the light of the world? Of course, it is we who are redeemed and called his disciples! Thus, Wang moved from Jn 8 to Mt. 5: 'What a great mission! What a noble status! And what a dignified identity that has been given to us, when we are called to be the light of the world just as Jesus our Lord has been!'42 After urging his audience to behave like Jesus so that they may reveal God's love and lead those who live in darkness into the life of light, Wang ended the sermon with another scriptural citation, 'Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like stars forever and ever' (Dan. 12.3). Here we see how he used Mt. 5.14 like a pearl set in a string of scriptures to create a beautiful necklace linking Jesus to Christians today. With three passages about 'light' punctuated at the beginning, middle and end of the sermon, the theme of imitating Christ becomes resoundingly clear.

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2. The first beatitude: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit' (Mt. 5.3). A sermon Wang once preached with this verse as title43 begins by saying that, since this is the first beatitude, every pious Christian would know it by heart. But can we assume that every Christian has the virtue of humility? No! In reality, it is precisely the pious ones who are not humble enough to accept advice from others. They tend to get angry at those who criticize them, too. Wang reminded his followers that only those who truly love them will give them criticism. So, they should accept criticism with thanks. If they can accept and learn from their critics, they will be able to make progress in their spiritual life to reach perfection. When Christ comes again at the end of days, they will receive heavenly rewards. Thus, humility leads to the Kingdom of heaven. The message of this sermon is clear: be humble, just as there is no ambiguity in Mt. 5.3. It addresses an attitude problem commonly seen in Christians, while trying to explain the logical connection between the virtue of humility and its final reward. The homiletic logic is straightforward but effective. 3. The last beatitude: 'Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake' (Mt. 5.10). In a long sermon with this verse as title, Wang gave five reasons why true Christians today will suffer persecution from the world:44 1. Christians believe in God, but atheists see them as superstitious. 2. Christians obey God's will and conduct business with honesty, but the world often lies and cheats for the sake of self-interest. 3. Christians strive for good behaviour, but the world has a lower standard of conduct. 4. Christians have higher purposes for their lives, but the world cannot understand them. 5. Christians testify against evil because of their faith, but the world does not take advice or criticism well. For these reasons, true Christians cannot avoid being hated and persecuted. Why, then, are there some Christians admired by the world? Because they do not belong to Christ, but to the world. Their popularity proves their problem: as Jesus said 'If you belong to the world, the world will love those who belong to them' (Jn 15.19). Wang continued: We have indeed seen many so-called Christians who have shown no difference from the world in everything they do, except for their name as a Christian. They do not believe the doctrines in the Bible, and want to talk about nothing but Jesus' personality, morality, spirit, love and his good teaching. Since they have no faith, the world will not attack or slander them. The world will not call them superstitious, but will praise them as reasonable Christians.45 There is no doubt that here Wang Mingdao was rebuking the liberal scholars of his time. He calls them 'Satan's spies', the false believers who have caused true Christians to be persecuted by unbelievers. To conclude the sermon, he encouraged his followers to stand strong in the power of


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the Lord, and reminded them of God's promise of the crown of life with a catena of three passages (Mk 8.38; 1 Pet. 4.12-16; Rev. 2.10). In this sermon, Wang began with the last beatitude and let the theme of persecution and blessing carry forward as he discussed the impact of the threats that had been exerted on the safety and faith of his church. Again, he used several scriptures, by thematic association, to relate, explain and reinforce the key idea of his biblical passage. A hermeneutical analysis How did Wang use the Bible to construct his sermons? Typically, he focused on one theme in the passage that has to do with the reality of life. He paid close attention to the plain sense of the words in their grammatical, literary and historical contexts, asking how certain things happened and why certain words were used in the text. He often selected several passages and used them as cross-references to interpret obscure words or ideas, following the principle of scriptura scripturum emphasized in the Reformed tradition. An interpretation thus argued can be very persuasive indeed, because it gains the weight of multiple witnesses and the extra sense of coherence. Particularly noteworthy is the principle of linyi jiejing (spiritual exegesis).46 Wang emphasized that only Christians, who are born again and led by the Holy Spirit, can correctly discern the meaning of the Word of God, so he advised his followers to wait in silence for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, whenever they fail to understand Scripture. Only the Holy Spirit knows God's will. Wang liked to compare reading the Bible to eating spiritual food. He often remarked that the Word of God should be chewed repeatedly, swallowed joyfully and digested internally until it nurtures spiritual life.

3. Ding Guangxun (K.H. Ting, 1915- ) Bishop K.H. Ting has a long and distinguished career as a national leader of the Protestant Church. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1942, and ministered to the churches in Shanghai during the war with Japan (1937-45). He then served as a mission secretary for the Canadian Student Christian Movement and later for the World Student Christian Federation in Geneva. He returned to China in 1951 and became in 1953 principal of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, a post he held until recently. Consecrated as bishop of the Anglican diocese of Zhejiang in 1955, Ding became a well-known interpreter of the Chinese communist revolution and the Christian response to it. After the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), he emerged as the leader of the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and the China Christian Council (CCC), the major state organs for the supervision of Protestant Christian churches in China. Since 1980 Ding has been instrumental in reopening theological seminaries, rebuilding ecumenical ties, and founding the Amity Foundation to

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print bibles in Chinese. He retired in 1997, but continues to lead a nationwide campaign for theological reconstruction in the Church. Ding's view of the Bible As a church leader Ding has worked hard to consolidate the so-called 'post-denominational7 Protestantism in communist China. As a theologian he has tried to promote a conversation with the world beyond the Church, especially with the Communist Party, and he has addressed extensively social and ecumenical issues facing the Christian Church. His goal has always been to make Christianity less offensive and more accessible to all people, and for that purpose he regarded it necessary to de-emphasize the doctrine of 'justification by faith' that presumes human sinfulness and to construct a new 'Chinese indigenized theology747 based on the welcoming and all-inclusive love of God. As preacher, he has constantly sought to make model citizens of Christians with the message of love and service.48 And in his use of the Bible, he has regarded it his task to complete a hermeneutical circle that would connect what he called the two 'Cs7: Christ and China.49 Ding's reading of the Sermon on the Mount One of the key themes in Ding's theology is 'love7, so it is no surprise to see many of his sermons and speeches emphasize the need to love others. He often discusses the theme of love with direct references to the texts from the Gospel of John (Jn 3.16, 'God so loved the world7) and the Epistles of John (1 Jn 4.16, 'God is love7). There is no doubt that the Gospel of John is his favourite biblical book, which also provides basic materials for his notion of the cosmic Christ who reveals God7s universal love to all people in the world.50 It is quite possible that the factions and schisms of the church reflected in the Epistles of John present a comparable social context for Ding who, as leader of the Protestant Church in China, faces the challenges of dissidents from unregistered house churches. For all his efforts to reconcile liberal and conservative Christians, and the Church with the society, it is surprising, however, that such sayings as 'Do not judge, so that you may not be judged7 (Mt. 7.1) or the golden rule 'In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets' (Mt. 7.12) have not been cited in his sermons or speeches more often.51 A detail mentioned in passing in an opening address, entitled 'Creation and Redemption7, at Nanjing Seminary (1955) proves significant in a reading of Ding's theology.52 In the address, Ding began by saying that one should not separate believers from non-believers by saying believers are 1*0111 of God' and non-believers are 'created of God'. He cited several NT texts to emphasize that the same Christ is Lord of both creation and redemption. He further cited Rom. 8 to say that creation contains redemption, and the purpose of redemption is to fulfil God's creation. For this reason, Christians should enlarge the scope of their concerns beyond personal salvation to include the well-being of all


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creation. Having seen so many suffering people in the Third World, Chinese Christians should offer a moral message to the world. Then, he lamented: 'How much the Old Testament prophets lifted up social righteousness and social justice! [Yet] We seldom hear sermons preached today on the Old Testament prophets or on Christ's Sermon on the Mount. Christianity has become an immoral, amoral religion.'53 Following this outburst, Ding exhorted the graduates first to unite all those around them before styling themselves as local prophets trying to solve all problems. The most important thing he wanted them to remember is that the Gospel of Christ is not merely one of personal blessing. The Church should announce a moral message, a message of service to people. In Ding's view, the Sermon on the Mount has not been widely preached and its moral message has largely been ignored. We may wonder why this would be so, but since no extended interpretation of the Sermon by Ding has been found, we cannot comment in terms of hermeneutical analysis.

Conclusion We have seen three influential Chinese leaders reading the Sermon on the Mount for very different purposes. They each come to the text with different views on its nature and authority, and use it to construct different sets of arguments. Their remarkable differences in hermeneutical presupposition reveal contending views of biblical authority, echoing debates between the modernists and the conservatives in the USA in the 1920s. Wu Leichuan saw the Bible as a historical document that needed to be studied critically with scientific knowledge and reason. Wang Mingdao honoured it as the inspired Word of God that only bornagain Christians with the help of the Holy Spirit can truly understand. Ding Guangxun held similar liberal views to those of Wu. Their differences in appropriation further reveal opposing views on human nature, society and christology. Wu, following traditional Confucian scholarship, believed that renge can be transformed, and society can be reformed. For him, Jesus was a wise sage holding the key to the right teaching. Wang drew attention rather to the depth of human sinfulness and social corruption. For him, Jesus was the redeemer who alone could give us new life. Holding a much more positive view of human nature, Ding placed his hope on the Cosmic Christ whose love may move people to embrace each other across lines of division. Among the three, Wu Leichuan's proposal to use the Sermon on the Mount as a social programme to rebuild the moral culture of China, in which Christians were an absolute minority, was particularly remarkable. In the history of interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount in the Christian West, the general tendency has been to read Jesus' teachings as rules for individual morality and guidelines for ethics of motivation, and the debates often fall on the soteriological question of works and righteousness versus faith and grace. Aquinas, for instance, interpreted the Sermon as 'precepts' for all believers to obey, with some 'evangelical

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counsels' for the pious few seeking spiritual perfection. Luther argued that the Sermon, with its high standards, really functioned to make the readers realize their deficiency and thereby compel them to creep to the feet of Christ for grace. Anabaptists tried to live literally by the Sermon as the new law of Christ, but they did so voluntarily as personal commitment.54 In comparison, Wu's proposal to use the Sermon as a social programme for the new China stands out as bold and confident for a Christian leader facing anti-Christian movements on college campuses. There might be several reasons why he thought so highly of the Sermon, but among them, it seems to me, are his strong sense of social responsibility as a Chinese educator and his deep belief in the power of moral teaching to reform society, both of which have long been valued in the Chinese intellectual tradition. The sharp differences among the three leaders and their readings indicate not only the vast diversity of theological views within Chinese churches but also the enormous riches and universal appeal of the Sermon on the Mount. As a theological and moral text, it challenges all believers in all times to respond to Jesus and his radical teachings, and it has garnered as many interpretations in China as it has in the West.55 In these three Chinese readings as well as in many others across cultures, the reader's hermeneutical presuppositions, theological convictions and social or pastoral concerns are always woven together as an interpretive web on which his or her peculiar interpretation of the Sermon is sustained and makes sense. To state the evident: every interpretation is culture-specific and universal at the same time. Some similarities in the three Chinese Christian leaders' reading strategies and interpretive goals also deserve a brief comment. All three of them take seriously the plain sense of the text and try to apply Jesus' teachings literally and analogically to their contemporary life-settings. All three seek to instruct their readers and benefit the society, reading the Sermon on the Mount pragmatically as a programme for social reform, a guide for spiritual life or a call to Christian witness. Most significantly, even as they differ greatly in their theological views of biblical authority, human nature and Jesus' identity, they share a similar assumption, taking the formation of moral character as the necessary basis for a new life that will enable Christians to rebuild the society that is morally bankrupt, to be the light of the world to reveal the darkness of sin, and to share the love of God generously with everyone else. In other words, they treat the Sermon on the Mount first and foremost as a morality text and take it for granted that character formation of the reader is the very final goal of their biblical interpretation. This shared concern for 'character-formation' is typical, if not unique, of Chinese intellectual tradition, especially in the educational programme of Confucianism. So, is the ultimate concern for character-formation one of the characteristics of 'Chinese' hermeneutics that we hope to identify in this study? It is certainly a hermeneutic tendenz evident in the three otherwise very different readings of the Sermon on the Mount. To determine whether or not it is a distinctive feature of 'Chinese' hermeneutics, however, more representative samples of Chinese readings need to be studied and some


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critical comparisons with Western readings need to be made. This brief study of three Chinese readings of the Sermon on the Mount is merely a first trial, and serves simply as a pointer of what a large-scale comparative project might yield for the quest for 'Chinese' biblical hermeneutics. Moreover, our study of the readings of the Sermon on the Mount by Wu, Wang and Ding offers a glimpse into the vibrant life of the Chinese churches in times of national turmoil and social change. The Bible played a critical role in the Chinese Christians' varied efforts to express their faith, define their relationship with others and make their contribution to society. We also discover an interesting trajectory of this important biblical text as it was used in twentieth-century China. Earlier in the century (the 1930s), the Sermon on the Mount was highly prized as the best synopsis of Jesus' idea of the Kingdom of heaven by elite scholars such as Wu Leichuan and Wu Yaozong, who used it to present their programmes for reforming Chinese society. In the 1950s it was cautiously interpreted as a call to discipleship, for believers to become the salt of the earth and the light of the world, by the conservative preacher Wang Mingdao, who urged his followers to imitate Jesus in their lives so that their good behaviour might reveal God's love and expose human sin. Finally, in the 1980s, it was largely ignored, even though Ding Guangxun thought the Sermon ought to be preached more often to give the broken world an opportunity to hear a badly needed Christian moral message of love. Why did the interest in the Sermon on the Mount gradually decline and wane among Chinese interpreters during the twentieth century? This trajectory may reflect a change of general ethos in Chinese society. During the course of the twentieth century Chinese attitudes towards moral tradition have changed fundamentally. Earlier in the century, even as the new republic attempted to modernize itself by importing Western science and social systems, some intellectual elites continued to argue for the usefulness of traditional culture at least for cultivating moral character. Thus Wu Leichuan advocated renge jiugno (saving the nation through character). When so many government officials and community leaders, educated in traditional culture, proved to be stunningly incapable and easily corrupted, many people became disillusioned with moral values, the core curriculum in traditional Confucianism. Training in reason and science became more important than studies in moral texts. When lijiao chirm (moral propriety eats people) became a popular slogan, it was evident that ordinary people were disgusted by the hypocrisy of moral education and its inability to produce good character or good people. Throughout the Cultural Revolution (1967-77), the Red Guards deliberately destroyed any respect that might remain for moral values in the traditional culture. When China reopened its door to the West in the reform era of the 1980s, it took a revised socialist direction and looked towards economic prosperity. Moral formation was no longer an issue. As such, there seems to be a correlation between the decline of interest in the Sermon on the Mount as a moral text and the demise of the social respect for moral discourse in the China of the twentieth century.

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Secondly, the decline of interest in the Sermon may also be a result of the fierce theological debates waged between progressive and conservative factions on human ability to achieve moral standards. It is interesting to note that in the face of corruption and brutality that jeopardized national interests, liberal theologians remained relatively optimistic about human ability to improve character and reform society. They believed that people could be made good if they were enlightened by Jesus' wisdom. So they were attracted to the moral ideals in the Sermon on the Mount and read it as a road-map to social reform. On the contrary, conservative preachers held a very negative view of human nature. They saw how, in reality, selfishness, greed and violence were hurting human lives and creating distrust, anxiety and fear in society. The only hope for a better life was to be born again, transformed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. As for the unmoral society where evil reigns, it can only wait for doom at the final judgement. So, Wang Mingdao did not invest as high a value in the Sermon as did Wu Leichuan. Ding Guangxun shared the liberal view of human potentiality, but having seen the destruction caused by the extreme 'Leftists' during the Cultural Revolution, overlooked the possible impact of the Sermon and turned his attention to emphasize the all-encompassing love of God. Finally, the decline of interest in the Sermon on the Mount may also reflect a paradigm shift in the dominant view of christology. For Wu Leichuan, Jesus was a 'social reformer', so the epitome of his teaching on the Kingdom of heaven in the Sermon was treasured as the most important blueprint for an ideal society where all people are brothers (sihai zineijie xiongdi) and economic equality (datong junfu) is ensured. For Wang Mingdao, Jesus was a 'divine redeemer' who came to reveal God's love and confront evil as light dispels darkness, so the Sermon calls true followers to imitate Jesus and glorify God. But a lot more in the Bible should be studied, such as salvation, justification, sanctification and eternal life. Thus, the Sermon became one of the many important texts to study. For Ding Guangxun, Jesus was a 'cosmic Christ' whose revelation of love may bring reconciliation between people across classes and religions. The Sermon on the Mount does reveal Jesus' moral vision, but it is his selfless love, not his ethical mandate, that is the focus for Ding. Thus, it seems, as the Chinese understanding of christology moves from a lower perspective to a higher one, and from an emphasis on humanity to divinity, the Sermon on the Mount receives increasingly less attention.

Notes 1. Two recent scholarly monographs dealing with a wide range of hermeneutical issues in Buddhism and Confucianism are also very helpful: Donald Lopez, Jr (ed.) Buddhist Hermeneutics (Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 1988); J. Henderson, Scripture, Canon, and Commentary: A Comparison of Confucian and Western Exegesis (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991). In both books, general hermeneutical assumptions and specific hermeneutical strategies used in those two religious and scriptural traditions are well discussed.


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2. David Kelsey, The Uses of Scripture in Recent Theology (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1975), p. 15. 3. Zha Shijie, Minguo jidujiaoshi lunwenji [Essays on the History of Christianity in the Republic Period] (Taipei: Cosmic Light, 1994). Fuk-tsang Ying, Jidu xinyang yu jiuguo shijian - ershi shiji qianqi de gean yanjiu [Christian Doctrine and the Praxis of National Salvation: A Case-Study of the First Half of 20th Century China] (Hong Kong: Alliance Bible Seminary, 1997). 4. Tse-tsung Chow, The May Fourth Movement: Intellectual Revolution in Modern China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1960), pp. 84-116. J.W. Israel, Student Nationalism in China, 1927-1937 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1966). 5. Ka-che Yip, Religion, Nationalism, and Chinese Students: The Anti-Christian Movement of 1922-1927 (Bellingham, WA: University of Washington Press, 1980). 6. Wing-hung Lam, Fengchaozhong fenqi de zhongguo jiaohui [Chinese Theology in Construction] (Hong Kong: Tian Dao, 1980), pp. 154-66. 7. Hu Shih, 'Jidujiao yu Zhongguo' [Christianity and China], Life Monthly, 2 (March 1922); 7: 3-4. D.W.Y. Kwok, Sdentism in Chinese Thought, 1900-1950 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1965). Yu-ming Shaw, 'The Reaction of Chinese Intellectuals toward Religion and Christianity in the Early Twentieth Century', in J.D. Whitehead (ed.), China and Christianity: Historical and Future Encounters (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979), pp. 154-82. 8. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua [Christianity and Chinese Culture] (Shanghai: Youth Association, 1936), pp. 82-98. 9. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, pp. 56-9. 10. Wu Leichuan, T u n zhongguo jidu jiaohui de qiantu' [On the Future of Chinese Christian Church], Truth Weekly, 1.11 (1923). See John Yieh, 'Chinese Biblical Interpretation: History and Issues', in Mary Foskett and Jeffrey Kuan (eds), Ways of Being, Ways of Reading: Asian American Biblical Interpretation (St Louis, MD: Chalice, 2006), pp. 23-4. 11. Wu Leichuan, 'Jidutu de xiwang' [The Hope of Christians] (Shanghai: Youth Association, 1940), pp. 12-15. See also Tsai Yen-zen, 'Jingdian quanshi yu wenhua huitong' [Scriptural Interpretation and Cultural Exchange], in Papers for an International Conference on Religious Scripture and Interpretation (Taipei: Graduate Institute of Religious Studies at National Chengdu University, 2000), pp. 180-200, esp. p. 7. 12. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, p. 292. John Yieh, 'Cultural Reading of the Bible: Some Chinese Christian Cases', in Daniel Smith-Christopher (ed.), Text and Experience: Toward a Cultural Exegesis of the Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), p. 135. 13. The same assumption can be found in many other Christian scholars of the time. It may be called the 'Zeitgeist' of that generation when the deeprooted Confucian tradition and the strong desire to reform the society still resided in Chinese scholars. Tsai, 'Jingdian quanshi yu wenhua huitong', p. 18. Fuk-tsang Ying, Jidu xinyang yu jiuguo shijian, pp. 399-412. 14. Noteworthy is that his view was close to the historical-critical approach of D.F. Strauss, Albrecht Ritschl and Adolf von Harnack and the demythologization of Rudolf Bultmann, popular in the Western scholarly circles shortly before Wu's time. 15. Wu Leichuan, 'Tienguo shi shenme?' ['What is the Kingdom of Heaven?'] (Part I and II), Truth Weekly, 3.9 (1925): 11. Yieh, 'Cultural Reading of the Bible', pp. 130-6. 16. Shanghai: Qingnian xiehui, 1936. 17. Shanghai: Qingnian xiehui, 1940. 18. Shanghai: Qingnian xiehui, 1940. 19. Wu Leichuan, 'Zhudaowen yanci', in Zhenli zhoukan [Truth Weekly], 1.37 (1923), 1.38 (1923), 1.40 (1923); 1.41 (1924); 1.46 (1924); 1.47 (1924).

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20. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua (pp. 62-5), Jidutu de xiwang (pp. 30-8) and Modi yu Yesu (pp. 126-8). 21. Wu Leichuan, Jidutu de xiwang, p. 31. 22. See James C. Livingston, Modern Christian Thought: From the Enlightenment to Vatican II (London and New York: Macmillan, 1971), pp. 262-8. 23. Wu Yaozong, 'Preface' to Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, p. 5. 24. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, pp. 70-2; Modi yu Yesu, pp. 294, 324. 25. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, p. 75. 26. Wu Leichuan, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhua, pp. 290-2. 27. Analects, Book IV, Le Jin, Ch. 15. 28. Karl Barth, 'The Preface to the Second Edition' and 'The Preface to the Third Edition', The Epistle to the Romans, trans, from 6th edn by Edwyn C. Hoskyns (London: Oxford University Press, 1933), pp. 2-21. 29. Five examples of contextualization in twentieth-century China are analysed in Ng Lee Ming, Jidujiao yu zhongguo shehui bianqian [Christianity and Social Changes in China] (Hong Kong: Chinese Christian Literature Council, 1981). 30. Wing-hung Lam, Wang Mingdao yu zhongguo jiaohui [Wang Mingdao and the Chinese Church] (Hong Kong: China Graduate School of Theology, 1982); Wing-hung Lam, Shuling shenxue: Ni Tuo-shen sixiang de yianjiu [The Spiritual Theology of Watchman Nee] (Hong Kong: China Graduate School of Theology, 1985). 31. A modernist professor at Union Seminary, New York in the 1920s, whose works were translated into Chinese and published by The Association of Press in China through Wu Yaozong who had studied at Union for three years. 32. Wang Mingdao, 'Zhenli ne? Dusu ne?' [Truth? Poison?] (1954) and 'Women shi weile xinyang' [We are for the Faith] (1955), Wushi nian far [The Fifty Years] 11th edn (Hong Kong: Bellman House, 1996), pp. 1-23; 24-66. 33. Wang Mingdao, 'Zhenli ne? Dusu ne?', pp. 7, 8. 34. Wang Mingdao, Yesu shi shei? [Who is Jesus?] (Hong Kong: Hongdao, 1927; repr. 1962), pp. ^ 4 . 35. Wang Mingdao, Ren nen jianshe tianguo ma? [Can Man Build the Kingdom of Heaven?] (Hong Kong: Hongdao, 1933; repr. 1962), pp. 9-12. 36. Wang Mingdao, 'Wo weshenmo xin shengjing shi shen suo moshi de?' [Why Do I Believe the Bible is Divinely Inspired?] in Wang Mingdao wenku [Treasuries of Wang Ming Tao] (Taichung: Conservative Baptist, 1977), Vol. 7, pp. 163-218. 37. Wang Mingdao, Wushi nian lai [The Fifty Years], p. 71. 38. Wu Yaozong, Heian yu guangmin [Darkness and light], p. 76. 39. Wang Mingdao, 'Xuxin de ren youfu le' [Blessed are the poor in spirit], in Wang Mingdao wenku, Vol. 3, pp. 138-42; 'Wei yi shoubipo de ren youfu le' [Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness], in Wang Mingdao wenku, Vol. 4, pp. 202-10. 40. Wang Mingdao, 'Rongyao shen de jidutu' [Christians who glorify God], in Wang Mingdao wenku, Vol. 3, pp. 25-30. 41. Wang Mingdao, Women de zhu [Our Lord] (Hong Kong: China Alliance, 1961), pp. 105-10. 42. Wang Mingdao, Women de zhu, p. 107. 43. Wang Mingdao wenku, Vol. 3, pp. 138-42. 44. Wang Mingdao wenku, Vol. 4, pp. 202-10. 45. Wang Mingdao wenku, Vol. 4, p. 208. 46. Ka-lun Leung, 'Huaren jiyaozhuyi jidutu de lingyi jiejing' [The Spiritual Exegesis of Chinese Fundamentalist Christians], in Chaoqian yu luohou: bentu shijing yu shenxue yanjiu [Far Ahead and Lagging Behind: Studies in Contextual Hermeneutics and Theology] (Hong Kong: Alliance Bible Seminary, 2003), pp. 1-58.


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47. Talk by Ji Jian-hong, chair of the Committee of Three Self Patriotic Movement, in Hong Kong, published in Shidai luntan [Times Tribune], 796,1 December 2002). 48. His sermons and writings can be found in Tianfeng and Nanjing Theological Journal. See, e.g. Ting Kuang-hsun, Ding Guangxun wenji [Writings of Ting Kuang-hsun] (Nanjing: Yi Lin, 1998), pp. 32,108, 214. 49. Ting Kuang-hsun, How to Study the Bible (Hong Kong: Tao Fong Shan Ecumenical Centre, 1981); Ting Kuang-hsun, 'Zai zhongguo wei jidu zuojianzhen' [To Testify for Christ in China], Union Theological Journal, 1 (1984): 11-17; Ting Kuang-hsun, 'Guanyu woguo de shenxue jiaoyu - wei yichi huiyi zhunbei de fayen' [On Theological Education in my Country - a prepared paper for a conference], Union Theological Journal, 1 (1984): 46-9. 50. Ting Kuang-hsun, 'The Cosmic Christ: Address to Friends of the Church in China, England, 1991', in Janice and Philip Wickeri (eds), A Chinese Contribution to Ecumenical Theology: Selected Writings of Bishop K.H. Ting (Geneva: WCC, 2002), pp. 91-101. 51. I have yet to find whether he has commented on the famous verse on loving enemies in Mt. 5.44 ('Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you') in his discussion of loving others, including opponents to the Church. 52. Janice and Philip Wickeri (eds), A Chinese Contribution to Ecumenical Theology, pp. 101-6. 53. Janice and Philip Wickeri (eds), A Chinese Contribution to Ecumenical Theology, p. 105. 54. John Yieh, Making Sense of the Sermon on the Mount (Cambridge: Grove, 2007), pp. 11-14. 55. Warren S. Kissinger, The Sermon on the Mount: A History of Interpretation and Bibliography (Metuchen, NJ.: Scarecrow, 1975); Ursula Berner, Die Bergpredigt: Rezeption und Auslegung im 20. Jahrhundert (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979); Robert A. Guelich, The Sermon on the Mount: A Foundation for Understanding (Waco, TX: Word, 1982), pp. 14-23; Daniel Tin Wo Chow, Shanshang baoxun de yanjiu [Study of the Sermon on the Mount] (Hong Kong: Daosheng, 1984).

10 Confucian Catholics7 Appropriation of the Decalogue: A Case-Study of Cross-Textual Reading Tian Haihua The reception of the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, in the Confucian context of the late Ming and early Qing period serves as a good example of cross-textual reading. As an interpretive method, crosstextual reading, as developed by Archie C.C. Lee, is based within an Asian context of rich and multi-religious texts and cultural traditions, by which Asian peoples have been continuously nourished and nurtured, and on which Asian spirituality and religiosity have largely depended. Asian Christians have to be reminded constantly that they have two texts: the Asian text (text A) inherited from their own Asian culturalreligious traditions, and the biblical text (text B) received from JudaeoChristian communities. Cross-textual reading entails reading one text in terms of a second text and 'crossing' from one to the other with a view to grasping the broader meaning of the two texts. Through this process, creative integration, or enriched transformation of the two is achieved. The Confucian converts had to engage with alien Christian texts as well as the native Chinese classics in seeking to integrate the familiar Confucian classics (text A) with the Decalogue (text B). How did these Chinese converts appropriate the Decalogue in Confucian terms which were different from the understandings of the Jesuits who converted them? Based on textual evidence of the Decalogue by both Jesuits and Confucian Catholics, this essay will not only illustrate cross-textual reading as a methodology, but will also contribute to the understanding of the history of Christianity in a specific cultural context. The essay examines some catechetical writings on the Decalogue, showing textual practice and identity-making in the process of interpretation, and delineates the impact of the sixth commandment on Chinese Christians and traditional Chinese morality. It further shows how Confucian Catholics negotiate, or even transform, traditional Chinese ethical norms. The essay demonstrates that cross-textual reading involves both inculturation and acculturation, and presents the argument that, in the particular context of Chinese culture, Confucian readers adopt a different hermeneutic position on the Decalogue and thus appreciate its significance in a different way.



Tian Haihua

1. Introduction to the Decalogue: the writings of early Jesuits Towards the end of the Ming dynasty, the Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) initiated a new Christian era in China. He entered into, and attained, a deep and comprehensive communication with Chinese traditional culhire. At that time, the Jesuits faced a society with a strong and prosperous tradition of textual and classical exegesis. There was, however, a curious absence of translations of the Bible. The Jesuits did not set out to translate or commentate on the Bible, and consequently there was no Catholic version of the Bible in Chinese. The first full Catholic translation of the Bible was printed only in 1953, while several Protestant translations had been available since the nineteenth century.2 However, this does not mean the absence of translation of passages from the Bible. On the contrary, the Jesuits wrote numerous articles on Christian doctrines, moral teachings, liturgy and the life-story of Jesus Christ. As Nicolas Standaert writes, Proselytizing by means of books, the Apostalat der Presse, formed an integral part of the Jesuits' missionary policy in China. Through the printing of books, the Jesuits hoped to attain a much broader public than was possible by oral evangelization. Moreover, this method suited the stress on the preaching of the evangelical message to the intellectual elite.3 The Jesuits believed that to convert to Christianity meant not only to be baptized but also to receive a copy of the text (shoujing, %tM) at the altar during a ceremony.4 The various texts written for catechumen or transmitted by them are mostly catechetical writings, which focus on the interpretation and understanding of basic doctrines.5 Among such catechetical literature, Tianzhu jiaoyao [Catholic Doctrine] is a typical example, the earliest Roman Catholic catechism to be translated into Chinese, published by Matteo Ricci in early 1605.6 As Standaert notes, Tianzhu jiaoyao exerted a continuous influence, becoming 'the basis for catechetical literature during the seventeenth century and beyond (even during the nineteenth century). It is remarkable that the formulation of the texts included in these writings changed little over the time/ 7 The Decalogue is an important topic of catechetical writings. This essay explores seven catechetical writings of the Jesuits, and discusses how they introduced the Decalogue in Chinese. These seven writings are: the Single Page on the Commandments [Zuchuan tianzhu shijie];8 the Doctrine [Tianzhu shilu];9 the Solid Doctrine [Tianzhu shengjiao shilu];10 Catholic Doctrine [Tianzhu jiaoyao]}11 Short Doctrine [Tianzhu shengjiao yueyan];12 the Doctrina [Shengjing yuelu];13 and the Complete Doctrine [Jiaoyao jielue].14

The translations of the first four commandments are as below:

Confucian Catholics' Appropriation of the Decalogue

First Commandment

Second Commandment

Third Commandment

Fourth Commandment


Single Page Doctrine Solid Doctrine Catholic Doctrine Short Doctrine Doctrina Complete Doctrine

Single Page


Doctrine Solid Doctrine


Catholic Doctrine Short Doctrine Doctrina Complete Doctrine

If we analyse the expression of form and language in the Decalogue, Catholic Doctrine, Short Doctrine, the Doctrina and the Complete Doctrine

have the same fixed wording and form, and are almost identical with the early version of the Decalogue used by Chinese Catholics. We can see that Catholic Doctrine (1605) became the model for rendering the Decalogue into Chinese, influencing the later Jesuits and even other Catholic societies in their interpretation. The first three texts, the Single Page, the Doctrine and the Solid Doctrine, were all related to Michele


Tian Haihua

Ruggieri (1543-1607). These three can be seen as the earliest texts on the Decalogue with consistent expression in the late Ming, and are different from the later four in word usage and writing format, showing that during the new encounter of the Decalogue with the Chinese culture under the Jesuits, ambiguity was introduced, and a process of change initiated in the translation of terms. The first draft of the Doctrine was completed in 1581, based on a Latin text. Many manuscripts were distributed while the text underwent corrections. Ricci also collaborated on the correction of this text, and the final edition (1584) was called Xintnan tianzhu shilu [New edition of the Doctrine].15 Here, I take the Doctrine to be the original edition, and the Solid Doctrine as the second edition. In their chapters dealing with the Decalogue, both texts seem more concerned about the method of promulgation. The Doctrine asserts that 'The bonze says: Catholic teaching comprises two things', namely to love God and neighbour.16 The Solid Doctrine [Tianzhu shengjiao shilu] meanwhile states: 'A true

Catholic has to know two things ... /17 one of many instances in which references to Buddhism have been removed. The move away from Buddhist nomenclature began in 1592, after the missionaries discovered the downside of referring to themselves as bonzes.18 In the original edition of the Doctrine, Ruggieri declares himself a 'bonze from India' (tianzhuguo seng, ^znllHft). Tianzhuguo is a term used by the Chinese to indicate any country west of China, mainly India and sometimes including Europe; seng means bonze. In rendering the first commandment, the character wei ($L) is omitted in the second edition for fear that its presence might obscure or even negate the concept of the Trinity (sanwei yiti, H&—$t). The original edition uses jie $c (to guard against, or a commandment in Buddhism) to express negative commandments, whereas in the second edition, all negative commandments begin with the same character # (wu, you shall not), which is prohibitory but does not have overt Buddhist overtones. This usage continues to the Decalogue in the modern Catholic Bible. The 1581 Doctrine says: 'On the Sabbath day, you shall not do any work, you shall go to a temple to recite the Bible, and worship the Lord' calling the Sabbath day libai zhi ri(WtM 3L 0), 'day of worship', whereas the second edition revises it to zhanli zhi ri ( | | $ ! ; i 0), 'day of reverence'; the original edition translates the sacred place as si ( # , temple), whereas the second edition corrects it to tianzhutang ( ^ i ^ , Hall of the Lord of heaven, or Catholic church). In the fourth commandment, the original edition adopts the term xiaojing (#®[, filial piety), while ai (S£, love) is used in the second edition, later thought to be inappropriate and revised back to filial piety. Although these differences are not substantial, the terminology of the second edition is more succinct.19 What can be seen is something of the problematic which faced the Jesuits in compiling new editions of catechisms incorporating biblical texts, and a gradual sinicization of terms, or introduction of terms which would become specifically Chinese-Catholic. The use of Buddhist terms evidently reflects the context of the time. The early Jesuits' introduction to the Decalogue went through a historical process of change, which was also a process of self-

Confucian Catholics' Appropriation of the Decalogue


definition, a continuous probing of the most appropriate way to express biblical terms. Both the epilogue and prologue of Ruggieri's The Simple Page treat first the method of promulgation of the commandments, and then the retribution for observing or betraying the Decalogue, whether heaven or hell.20 The expression of retribution constitutes the essential part of the Decalogue in Chinese, and is present either in the epilogue (the Short Doctrine, Catholic Doctrine and the Doctrina) or in the prologue (the Complete Doctrine). Its basic form differs only slightly. The division of the Decalogue and the number of commandments on each tablet is absent from the Single Page, but discussed in all other catechisms. For example, the Doctrine says there are three commandments in the first tablet, which all declare that you should love the Lord, while in the second tablet, there are seven commandments, which all state that you should be in harmony with people.21 The most detailed and distinctive interpretation made by the Jesuits is seen in the text The Ten Commandments [Tiazhu shengjiao shijie zhiquan],

written by Emmanuel Diaz Jr (Yang Manuo, 1574-1659).22 Its literary style is difficult and obscure, fitting for a literati audience.23 This work comprises two volumes, which discuss the first three commandments and the last seven commandments separately, with prefaces by Dong Guoqi and Zhu Zongyuan. In the table of contents, Emmanuel Diaz Jr claims that 'The Decalogue is the commandment of natural teaching', meaning that the Decalogue was promulgated to human beings in ancient times, and so had universal validity.

2. Identity reconstruction: Confucian Catholics' interpretation of the Decalogue During the late Ming and early Qing period, the meeting between Christianity and Chinese culture produced a series of dialogues. If 'understanding is present in a creative dialogue',25 then mutual understanding can overcome barriers in cultural communication. A dialogue always takes place between two (or more) partners, and is never onesided. In the past four decades, scholarship about dialogue between Catholic and Chinese cultures during the Ming and Qing period has mainly focused on the study of the texts and activities of the missionaries, exploring the presentation of Western culture by the missionaries and their acculturation to Chinese culture, based on Western perspectives. Comparatively little attention has been paid to Chinese converts and their responses. This situation began to change with a paradigm shift at the beginning of the 1960s. Standaert speaks of the transformation in the field, First, there has been a paradigm-shift which consists in a change from a mainly missiological and Eurocentric to a sinological and Sinocentric approach, characterized by the use of Chinese texts as primary sources for research and thus taking the Chinese actors as


Tian Haihua

primary subjects. Second, there has been an important shift downward: attention is moving from the converts belonging to Chinese elite or the missionaries who worked at the court to the common Christians in the provinces and the itinerant missionaries who were engaged in pastoral work. Third, because of the intercultural and interdisciplinary character of this field of research, there is a growing interest in questioning basic notions, which are at the very foundation of these studies.26 A focus on the Chinese reception of Christianity represents a clear shift.27 As noted above, when Chinese converted, they had to accept Christian texts. However, this kind of acceptance did not mean that they simply gave up their own Confucianist, Buddhist and Daoist texts. These texts and traditions constituted part of their life, constantly nourishing them. Chinese Christians embraced the two textual traditions in their possession, the Chinese classics (text A) and the Christian texts (text B). The two texts met at the conjunction of religious conversion experienced by Chinese Christians. How did they move between two texts, canons and traditions? And how did they integrate and transform them? The process has been summed up as one of acculturation, but this is surely not the right term: inculturation from the perspective of the local context is perhaps more appropriate.28 Besides their textual heritage, Chinese Christians also possess a dual identity, the identity of traditional Chinese culture, and their Christian identity. Text is one important part in the formation of identity, and in the experiences of introspection and identity struggle that Chinese Christians have undergone. As Archie Lee writes, 'Chinese converts tried to express their cultural and religious identity through their interpretive writings on a particular text. Through these they configured and refigured their own identity in their continuing appropriation of their own cultural-religious resources/29 In this next section, I explore the connection between textural practice and identity-making in terms of reading and interpreting the Decalogue. In Xixue shijie chujie xu [Simple preface on the Western Decalogue] composed in 1624, Ye Xianggao (1559-1627), a sympathizer of late Ming Christianity, stated that Yang Tingyun (1562-1627) had written a commentary on the Decalogue.30 Ye Xianggao's preface has been preserved in his collection Cangxia yucao. He writes: Merely to say that the Lord of heaven descended and was born, and his Kingdom is close at hand, is strange. In the birth of sages and worthies, each has his place, from the minor ones who are kind to others, who must be ranked with the mountains and stars, to the great ones who control creation and who instituted a great peace which endured for ten thousand generations, such as Yao, Shun and Confucius. If they had not been sent down and given life by God, how could they have had so much power? And since they were born in the East, how do we know they could not have been born in the West?31

Confucian Catholics' Appropriation of the Decalogue


It is interesting that this quotation is revised in another context. This preface was added to the Fujian reprint of Alfonso Vagnone's (15681640) Interpretation of the Decalogue [Tianzhu (tianxue) shijie jielue]. In this

Jesuit reprint, Vagnone quotes this preface and redacts it as follows:

Only the chapter on the Master of heaven who descended and was born seemed at first odd. The birth of sages and worthies all have their origin. The minor ones who are kind to others must be chosen and given in silence. How much more are the major ones, who dominate over creation and bring great peace to ten thousand generations, such as the one who is called Master of heaven? The fact that He descended and was born to save the world seems strange, but is real. How could there be any suspicion of it?32 The differences between the two quotations are very clear, reflecting the fact that Confucian Catholics and Jesuits stood on different ground over how to introduce and interpret the Decalogue. The opinion of Ye Xianggao has been revised completely. As a well-known important official, Ye Xianggao's preface was used by the Jesuits to enforce their mission, and was changed to represent their own intentions.33 Yang Tingyun's commentary on the Decalogue was never published, probably because Niccolo Longobardo (1565-1655) vigorously opposed this commentary. Ye Xianggao questioned the doctrine of incarnation, interpreting it differently. He argues that as Jesus Christ was in Europe, Confucius, and other Chinese sages, were born of God. He puts Jesus Christ on a level with Yao, Shun and Confucius, and interprets Christianity through his own cultural tradition. Interpreting Christian faith selectively in terms of local Chinese culture became an important facet of Chinese Christians reconstructing their own identity. As Archie Lee states: 'Identities are largely constructed by the various means of imaging/re-imaging through the powerful act of interpretation and the process of textualizing/34 When Confucian Catholics considered the first and fourth commandments they created a new word da fumu (^C5^#, the Great Parent or Great Father and Mother), a word embedded deeply in the Chinese cultural milieu and one which came to play an important role in the inculturation process of Christianity in China. They held Tianzhu to be the creator of all things. Tianzhu is precisely the same as the ancient Chinese expression, Shangdi or Tian, in the Confucian classics The Book of Documents (Shangshu) and the Book of Odes (Shijing), where it states that 'heaven gives birth to human beings7 (tian sheng ren).35 This was to be the source of later controversy among Protestant translators, concerning the question of whether or not the ancient Chinese had a sense of one supreme, omnipotent deity. Han Lin, a scholar baptized around 1620, comments on heaven (tian) as 'our Great Parent' in reflecting on the commandment to honour your father and mother:36 We should know heaven is our Great Parent. The Book of Odes says 'Vast heaven on high, this is called our Father and Mother!' This is


Tian Haihua

not referring to the blue heavens. Above there is a controlling force, who produced heaven, earth, the spirits, humankind and living things: this is the God whose name was passed on in the Five classics, in the time of the three dynasties of Tang and Yu.37 Han Lin Christianized the Shangdi (Lord) or tian (heaven) of the ancient classics, and referred to the highest one as God in Christian texts. He transformed the term tianfu (Heavenly Father) of Christianity into the term da fumu of Confucian patriarchy, to render it more acceptable to Chinese. Another Confucian Catholic, Wang Zheng (1571-1644), in discussing the concept of da fumu, claimed that Tianzhu (Lord of heaven) was our 'original true parent' (yuanchu zhen fumu, J^lr/^^^). 38 In Confucian thought, the term da fumu is based on the concept of yin (female) and yang (male) elements. In Chinese, the term Father-Mother could also be used for individuals; regarding the universe as one's parents created an ethical imperative to regard all humans as brothers and sisters.39 In both New Testament and Christian doctrines, fu (Father) is a metaphor about the image of God, endowed with masculine connotations. Michele Ruggieri follows this tradition in regarding Tianzhu as da fu, Great Father, in his The Doctrine.40 The Western image of God that is presented as 'Father' is received and transformed by Chinese Christians, where the Chinese God becomes 'Great Parent', which reflects 'how the imported concept was expressed in a new way by the local church, with elements from Chinese anthropology and cosmology being integrated in the term'.41 On the one hand, the human relation of child-parent is transposed into the supernatural relation between human being and God in terms of Chinese anthropology, expressed in the phrase 'The Lord of heaven rears humans as fathers and mothers rear their children.'42 This reflects the important notion of the closeness of God with humankind; and the term also connotes the principle of heaven and earth, which constitute the male and female elements of the myriad creatures. This notion can be found in Zhou Dunyi's (1017-73) Taiji tushuo [Explanation of the Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate], and further development of the universal Father and Mother is seen in Zhang Zai's (1020-77) Ximing [Western Inscription]. Zhang Zai states that one should regard the universe in the way one regards one's parents, and serve it in the same manner as one serves them. One should furthermore regard all people of the world as one's own brothers and sisters, and all creatures as of one kind.43 Aside from Han Lin and Wang Zheng's use of Great Father and Mother to refer to the Christian God, Confucian Christians Yang Tingyun,44 Li Zhizao (1565-1630),45 Xia Dachang (Mathias Xia)46 and Zhu Yupu47 also use it in the same way. There is a close cooperation here between missionaries and the Chinese (both converts and non-converts), with the missionaries benefiting too. For instance, the missionaries' Chinese writings show signs of having been enriched by the first fruits of the inculturation effected by the Chinese converts. Returning again to the example of terminology, after Michele Ruggieri, this typically Chinese expression of

Confucian Catholics' Appropriation of the Decalogue God as Great Father and Mother can be found in various Jesuit works. Matteo Ricci, Giulio Aleni, Francesco Brancati, Diego de Pantoja, Emmanuel Diaz Jr and Alfonso Vagnone all adopt this term to express the Christian God.48 In the late Ming and early Qing, on the question of the division of the Decalogue, the Jesuits adhere to Roman Catholic tradition, namely eliding the commandment 'you shall not worship idols' with 'you shall worship only one Lord (Tianzhu)'.49 Chinese culture is basically polytheistic in its religious outlook. Strenuous debates on the first commandment ensued between Chinese converts and the Jesuits. Aleni, for example, argues that the first commandment is about worshipping only one Master, and therefore converts should not serve any image of gods or Buddha, which should be destroyed.50 However, Chinese Christians had some reservations on the question of worshipping gods, influenced by ancestral cult traditions of Confucianism as well as the polytheistic notions of Buddhism, Daoism and Chinese popular religions. Matteo Ricci accepted ancestor worship as a social-moral rite, not a religion, and did not regard it as a violation of the first commandment. He argued that those performing ancestor worship are showing love and a grateful spirit towards their ancestors. Yang Tingyun likewise refers to the first and third commandments in his Tianshi mingbian'.51 Ricci's approval for the veneration of ancestors was challenged by the Franciscan and Dominican missionaries as well as other Jesuits such as Nicolas Longobardo who saw it as a superstitious practice.52 In conclusion, the interpretation of the Decalogue by Chinese Christians differed from that of their Jesuit teachers, and these differences can be traced to their separate textual traditions. For Chinese Christians, their interpretation expressed their respect and enthusiasm for traditional Chinese culture, and they sometimes applied their own cultural traditions in questioning or criticizing Christianity. These attitudes were continuously present in the process of their interpreting and understanding the texts of Christianity. The act of interpreting is one way to reconstruct and reshape their identity, and struggle was inevitable. Chinese local culture influenced the 'inculturation' of Christianity in China. Throughout its history in China, it has remained hard to change the image of Christianity as a marginal religion, which reflects one aspect of a fundamental contradiction from which late Ming Christianity suffered. When seen in a Chinese perspective, Christianity was torn between two mutually opposing orientations: On the one hand, it consciously tried to associate itself with Confucianism, a rather rational doctrine, without revelation, without the concept of a personalized God, without elaborate ideas about life after death and the retribution of good and evil deeds, without priest, and without miracles; on the other hand, by its very nature, by its salvation, and by its liturgical practices it was doomed to be drawn away from Confucianism and to be identified with Buddhism and popular religion.53



Tian Haihua

3. Acculturation of the Decalogue into Chinese traditional morality In addition to the forces of inculturation which focus on the local culture, there is also a corresponding acculturation, where Christianity has exerted influence on, and to some extent transformed, Chinese culture.54 In the late Ming and early Qing period, the most obvious acculturation of the Decalogue into Chinese traditional morality is seen in the sixth commandment, 'You shall not commit adultery/ This commandment chaUenges and affects the moral order of Chinese tradition; criticizing and transforming the custom of concubinage, and advocating monogamy. This was a new challenge to the practical reality of male domination and female subordination in Chinese culture. In the late Ming period, many 'morality books' emerged, reflecting the moral chaos caused by social turbulence and crisis. These books usually consist of two lists: one of good deeds for which one is awarded merit points, and one of bad deeds for which one earns demerit points. Different deeds correspond with different numbers of points, and a reader can calculate a final balance, which provides an indication of the degree of good or bad fortune in the future, and measure what progress is being made in morality.55 The social setting of morality books was similar to the textual context of the Jesuits at that time: the various catechetical writings or texts about Christian ethics introduced and interpreted, with a large portion devoted to the Decalogue. Jesuits who arrived in China for the first time soon agreed that the practices of Buddhism and Daoism should be considered 'false religions'. As Standaert writes, 'The first Jesuits, however, were so impressed by the Confucian moral teachings that they had difficulty in calling them "false", though they were unable to recognize them as fully "true". This Confucian morality was then to be supplemented with revealed Christian doctrine/56 The contact between Christianity and Chinese culture is a complex phenomenon. The image of weaving is apt: it highlights the complexity of the diffusion, how borrowing is often like the interweaving of many different threads and fibres. An existing fibre (concubinage) is taken away without replacement, while another fibre (monogamous marriage) is reinforced; a new thread is integrated, some Chinese Christians accept the moral but not the eschatological dimension of the Christian notions of heaven and hell.57 The writings of the Jesuits are also selective, for instance, condemning the phenomenon of concubinage, which is seen as betrayal of the commandment on adultery. Concubinage was a major practical issue among the literati, and the Jesuits were unwilling to compromise on this. According to their rule, any man seeking baptism had to first get rid of his concubines, and there are a number of wellknown examples where this indeed happened. Since the sixth commandment directly challenged the family morality of the Confucian tradition, converts experienced great struggles in accepting it. The great Confucian philosopher of the third century BCE, Mencius,

Confucian Catholics' Appropriation of the Decalogue


says 'The greatest of the three unfilial acts is to be without male heir/ 58 Not producing a male heir was considered the gravest among the major offences against the core Confucian value of filial piety. This is why celibacy is criticized by many Chinese, since the line of ancestor worship can not be continued.59 According to Ming dynasty law, common people over 40 without a male heir should take a concubine, and if not, they should be punished.60 Literati who had passed the state civil service exams were persuaded to take a concubine in keeping with their new social status.61 There were three underlying reasons for this system: obedience to filial piety (the most important reason), manifestation of social status and fulfilment of sexual desire. Christian criticisms over concubinage were regarded as a threat to the existing social order and Confucian orthodoxy, and became an important source of anti-Christian resentment. Concubinage was widespread during the Ming and Qing, where it was held that the sage Shun had two spouses and King Wen had about 24 concubines. The Chinese were deeply offended to hear that Jesuits put these sages in hell because they had committed adultery. For instance, Huang Zhen from Zhangzhou writes of his argument with Aleni in a letter to the censor, Yan Maoyou, dated around 1639. Huang Zhen remonstrates that Aleni 'slandered sages, his crime cannot be endured', arguing that In their doctrine there is also the Decalogue, which says that if one takes a concubine when one has no son, one is violating a great commandment and will certainly go to hell. That comes down to saying that, of all our saintly sovereigns and enlightened kings throughout the entire history of China who had concubines, not one has escaped the hell of the Lord of heaven. So I put this question to him: 'King Wen had many concubines. What do you make of that?' Aleni sighed deeply for a long while and made no reply. The following day I put the same question to him. Once again, deep sighs and no answer. The next day, I questioned him again and said: 'The matter must be discussed in depth and clarified. A great record of all the past should be set up and only then will people understand and be encouraged to rally to you, no longer harbouring any doubts.' At this, Aleni sighed again for a long time and then said slowly: 'I didn't want to pronounce on this, but now I will.' Then he sighed again for quite a while and solemnly announced: 'I will tell you, my old brother, but I would not tell it to others: I am afraid I would have to say that even King Wen himself has been cast down into hell.'62 Such a rebuttal originated in Jesuit attacks and criticisms. Alfonso Vagnone sharply criticized various evils which resulted from breaking the sixth commandment. He argued that 'one male and one female are the right way', and 'there is no connection between filial piety and a male heir'.63 Diego de Pantoja stated that concubinage would bring trouble in the family,64 and 'women are the source of disasters, so the more concubines, the more harm'.65


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In feudal China, for those who enjoyed political and social privilege, concubinage was a common phenomenon. As 'three pillars of Christianity in China' and officials at the court, Xu Guangqi (15621633), Li Zhizao and Yang Tingyun were no exception in this. All of them took, or wanted to take, concubines, owing to problems with a male heir. Christians with a concubine faced a difficult position because the Jesuits prohibited Chinese converts having more than one wife, and according to stipulations, those who wanted to be baptized must give up their concubines.66 Xu Guangqi claimed that the hardest commandment to observe was the prohibition on taking concubines. In 1603 he planned to take a concubine to produce another male heir because he had only one son and no grandson. The Jesuit Joao da Rocha (1565-1623) instructed him patiently. After that, he changed his mind and got baptized.67 Li Zhizao requested baptism in 1603. Because he had already taken a concubine, Matteo Ricci refused to baptize him until March 1610, when he accepted monogamy by abandoning his concubine, getting baptized just before Matteo Ricci's death.68 Yang Tingyun faced the same problem. He experienced internal struggles because at the same time as accepting the strict moral code of Christianity, he thought that giving up his concubine was against natural law, and violated the moral principle inherent in being a gentleman (junzi). After much deliberation, however, he overcame his misgivings and placed his concubine at a 'separate dwelling' and they no longer lived together.69 Another famous case is that of Wang Zheng. In 1622, he passed his jinshi examination at the age of 52. At that time he had already been baptized, but as yet he had no son. When encouraged to take a concubine, he refused, saying he had been given grace from the Lord of heaven, Tianzhu, who helped him pass the examination, so he could not violate Tianzhu. Wang was highly praised by the missionaries for this. However, under pressure from his family he changed his mind and secretly took a 15-year-old concubine in order to produce a male heir and so extend his family prestige. In 1625 Wang Zheng confessed his sin to Nicolas Trigault (1577-1628), but was told that he could not be forgiven unless he got rid of his concubine. He considered letting his concubine marry another man, but she was extremely sad, and his legitimate wife urged her to stay, and the concubine promised to lead a life of chastity, swearing not to remarry. In this situation, Wang Zheng dragged out an ignoble existence.71 By taking a concubine, Wang Zheng betrayed the commandment on committing adultery. As a result, Nicolas Trigault and other Jesuits refused to forgive him. In 1634 Wang Zheng started to live in seclusion to remedy the sin of concubinage. When he recalled how he discussed the Decalogue in his work On Fearing Heaven and Caring for Humans [Weitian

airen ji lun, H ^ c H A ^ H ] , and Aleni's praise in Diary of Oral Admonitions [Kouduo richao] for his promise to avoid concubinage, he was thoroughly ashamed. When in 1636 he decided to dissociate with his concubine, he issued A Draft Confession Request [Qiqing jiezui qigao]. His moving public confession reads:

Confucian Catholics' Appropriation of the Decalogue


Once an evil thought sprang up in my mind, I could not observe commandments. After this, I realized the seriousness of my sin, so I confessed to missionaries, who all said: 'Your sin is hard to remove unless you can eradicate it!' In consequence of that I felt remorseful for myself, and decided that my concubine should marry in order to atone for my crime. My wife wept and begged me to keep the concubine, and we nearly had a quarrel. The concubine too was so distressed that she expressed her wish to become a Christian and observe chastity. Throughout the whole night I reflected that I am nearly 70, and my behaviour is no better than that of a youth of 17. Furthermore, the Lord of heaven blessed me though hundreds of dangers. Even if I made strenuous efforts, and broke off all earthly things, how many contributions do I have to repay the Lord's kindness? And why not part with my concubine? Indulging in the sea of desire speeds up grave punishment. Now, I promise before God that in the future I will treat the concubine as a friend, and if afterwards I again commit sin with her, the angels will be my witness that I am willing to pay the penalty of death. I prostrate myself and hope you missionaries will bestow compassion on me, and rid me of my previous sin. I am also praying wholeheartedly for absolution from the Lord of heaven.72 In 1644 Wang Zheng went down with the Ming dynasty. He starved himself to death in the tradition of Confucian moral integrity, and 35 years later, as an act of protest his concubine committed suicide on her 70th birthday. Wang Zheng dreaded punishment for his sin of concubinage, and his story, filled with personal struggle and suffering, ended tragically. From this tale, and those of Xu, Tang and Li, we can see the conflict between the Decalogue and traditional morality in China, and the acculturation of the Decalogue into the Chinese social and moral order. These three 'approached Christianity in different ways, with different needs and questions, but they each found in it a moral discipline based upon an external, universal source'.73 The moral notions of Christianity affected and changed their ways of life, and this was manifest in their attitudes to concubinage. In the sphere of moral practice, Christian culture did influence marriage practice in feudal China.

Conclusion In interpreting the Decalogue in the late Ming and early Qing context, the Jesuits and Confucian Christians seem to have adopted approaches that are not in accordance with each other, as seen in the language, form and content of their interpretations. The differences can be accounted for in terms of their adherence to different cultural traditions and their priorities of cultural identification. This essay has paid primary attention to and highlighted the Confucian Christians' contribution to the hermeneutics of the Decalogue, particularly that of Han Lin and Wang


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Zheng. It has focused on the Confucian contribution to Chinese Christianity, and how the Chinese reconstructed their identity in this hermeneutic process of cross-textual reading. At the same time, it explores how the Jesuit interpretation of the commandment not to commit adultery criticized the custom of keeping concubines among the Confucian officials and exerted a significant impact on Chinese traditional values. This study suggests that the formation of the hermeneutical tradition closely correlates to the interpreter's cultural tradition and identification. The interaction between the Decalogue and traditional Chinese culture presents a complex and interwoven picture, in which one can see both resistance and reception, concealment and disclosure, inculturation and acculturation, adherence and reconstruction of individual identity, as well as transformation of social and moral values and customs in traditional China. Hence, the hermeneutical tradition of the Decalogue in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties gives us a rich and vivid image rather than a one-dimensional picture which can be summarized. Moreover, the variety manifest in the hermeneutical history of the Decalogue in the context of the late Ming and early Qing periods has also demonstrated the vitality of interpreting and reconstructing the Decalogue in different contexts.

Notes I would like to thank Dr Chloe Starr for her comments on an earlier draft of this essay. 1. Archie C C Lee has expounded this method with examples in a number of articles. See e.g. Archie C.C. Lee, 'Biblical Interpretation in Asian Perspective', Asia Journal of Theology, 7 (1993): 35-9; 'Cross-Textual Hermeneutics', in Virginia Fabella and R.S. Sugirtharajah (eds), Dictionary of Third World Theologies (New York: Qrbis, 2000), pp. 60-2; 'CrossTextual Reading Strategy: A Study of Late Ming and Early Qing Chinese Christian Writings', Ching feng, 4 (2003): 1-27; 'Naming God in Asia: Cross-Textual Reading in Multi-Cultural Context', Quest, 3.1 (2004): 21-42. 2. See Nicolas Standaert, 'The Bible in Early Seventeenth-Century China', in Irene Eber, Sze-kar Wan and Knut Waif (eds), The Bible in Modern China: The Literary and Intellectual Impact (Sankt Augustin: Monumenta Serica, Monograph Series, 43, 1999), pp. 31-54, p. 31. 3. Nicolas Standaert, 'Note on the Spread of Jesuit Writings in Late Ming and Early Qing China', in China Mission Studies (1550-1800) Bulletin (1985): 22-31, 22. Production was prolific; as Dudink and Standaert write of the seventeenth century, 'in addition to some 120 texts dealing with the West and its science, some 470 texts can be identified which are mainly related to religious and moral issues ('Apostalate through books', in Nicolas Standaert (ed.), Handbook of Christianity in China, Vol. 1 [Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2001], p. 600). 4. 'Shoujing', or 'chengjing' (7$M), is probably the inaugural ceremony of the catechetical instruction in which the catechumen received a copy of texts. Similar ceremonies of transmitting texts in Daoism and Buddhism can be found. See Standaert, 'The Bible in Early Seventeenth-Century China', p. 46, n. 46. 5. As Standaert writes, in the late sixteenth century catechisms for Christian initiation were both important and popular, following the medieval structure of the four pillars of education: Symbol of Apostles, Our Father, Decalogue and Sacraments: see Standaert, 'The Bible in Early Seventeenth-century China', p. 34.

Confucian Catholics' Appropriation of the Decalogue


6. On Tianzhu jiaoyao (^;±|fcil), see Adrian Dudink, Tianzhu jiaoyao [The Catechism] (1605) Published by Matteo Ricci', Sino-Western Cultural Relations Journal, 24 (2002): 3850,38. 7. In the seventeenth century, more than 20 catechetical writings were published by the Jesuits, Franciscans and Dominicans; see Dudink and Standaert, 'Apostolate through Books', p. 610. 8. At the end of Tianzhu shilu, the Zuchuan tianzhu shijie ffl^^cjfe+tfi was inserted, and its style and form are different from the former, notably the zuchuan Tianded down by ancestors' of the title, and emphasis on retribution and meaning of the Decalogue. See Michele Ruggieri, 'Zuchuan tianzhu shijie', in Nicolas Standaert and Adrian Dudink (eds), Yesuhui Luoma Dang'an'guan Ming-Qing Tianzhujiao wenxian [Chinese Christian Texts from the Roman Archives of the Society of Jesus] (Taipei: Taipei Ricci Institute, 2002), Vol. 1, pp. 82-3. Fredric F. Weingartner argues that this was probably by Michele Ruggieri c. 1582 and was one of the earliest catechetical writings in Chinese, moreover, later doctrines were duplicated from the Single Page. See Fredric F. Weingartner, 'Sources for a Treatise on the Ten Commandments Based on the Writings of Early Jesuits in China', in International Symposium on Chinese-Western Cultural Interchange in Commemoration of the 400th Anniversary of the Arrival of Matteo Ricci, SJ in China (Taibei: Furen University Press, 1983), p. 831. The English translations here of the titles of catechisms are mainly Weingartner's. 9. Tianzhu shilu ^ c ^ J t t t , an early work by Michele Ruggieri on Christian doctrine, probably edited 1583 or 1584. The title says it is a new edition edited by a bonze (missionary) from the West see Ruggieri, 'Tianzhu shilu', in Luoma Dang'an'guan, Vol.1/ pp. 1-88. Fang Hao and Gianni Criveller claim that this is the first Chinese catechism. See Fang Hao, Zhongguo tianzhujiaoshi renwuzhuan [Biographies of Famous Chinese Catholics] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1988), p. 153; Gianni Criveller, Preaching Christ in Late Ming China: The Jesuits' Presentation of Christ from Matteo Ricci to Giulio Aleni (Taipei: Taipei Ricci Institute, 1997), p. 36. 10. Tianzhu shengjiao shilu ^LfcMftJtijfc is the 2nd edn of Michele Ruggieri's Tianzhu shilu, completed after 1634. See Wu Xiangxiang (ed.), Tianzhujiao dongchuan wenxian xubian (Taiwan: Xuesheng shuju, 1966), Vol. 2, pp. 755-838. 11. Several versions of Tianzhu jiaoyao ^jfctfcll exist: see Dudink, 'Tianzhu jiaoyao', pp. 3850. The Tianzhu jiaoyao used here is the text from Society of Jesus Roman archives: see Standaert and Dudink (eds), Luoma Dang'an'guan, Vol. 1, pp. 307-74. 12. See Joao Soeiro, 'Tianzhu shengjiao yueyan' ^cifeMtt^J W, in Standaert and Dudink (eds), Luoma Dang'an'guan, Vol. 2, pp. 253-80; Nicolas Standaert et al. (eds), Xujiahui Cangshulou Mingqing Tianzhujiao Wenxian [Chinese Christian texts from the Zikawei Library] (Taipei: Fangqi, 1996), Vol. 2, pp. 939-54. 13. See Ricci, 'Shengjing yuelu', in Standaert and Dudink (eds), Luoma Dang'an'guan, Vol. 1, pp. 87-116. 14. Trie text of Jiaoyao jielue tfci£#$i& gives Alfonso Vagnone as the author and notes that this is a third impression. See 'Jiaoyao jielue', in Standaert and Dudink (eds), Luoma Dang'an'guan, Vol. 1, pp. 117-306. 15. On Xinbian tianzhu shilu Sflfi^c^JfW see Gianni Criveller, Preaching Christ in Late Ming China, p. 91. 16. Ruggieri, 'Tianzhu shilu', pp. 67-8. 17. Ruggieri, 'Tianzhu shengjiao shilu', p. 827. 18. Weingartner, 'Sources for a Treatise', pp. 832-3. 19. Cf. Fang Hao, 'Zhongguo tianzhujiaoshi renwuzhuan', p. 71. 20. Ruggieri, Zuchuan tianzhu shijie, in Standaert and Dudink (eds), Luoma Dang'an'guan, p. 83. 21. Ruggieri, Tianzhu shilu, in Standaert and Dudink (eds), Luoma Dang'an'guan, p. 68. Cf.




24. 25. 26. 27. 28.


30. 31. 32.

33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38.

39. 40. 41. 42. 43.

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The right ten commandments can be summed up as two: loving the Lord above all and loving your neighbour as yourself', Anon., 'Tianzhu jiaoyao', p. 326. There are six editions of Tianzhu shengjiao shijie zhiquan ^rfcMt&+ifi]iLi£, the earliest redacted in 1636. See Lauren Pfister, Zaihua yesuhuishi liezhuan ji shumu, trans. Feng Chengjun (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1995), p. 113.1 refer to the edition from Hong Kong Catholic Diocesan Archives. When the Jesuits arrived in China at the end of the seventeenth century they were concerned with evangelization of the elites. The Bible and the Confucian canon belonged to core elite culture. In order to enter into a dialogue with another culture, the Jesuits adapted to the Chinese canonical tradition. Moreover, Catholic authorities stressed that 'erudite language' be applied in Bible translations. Cf. Standaert, 'The Bible in Early Seventeenth-century China', pp. 46-8. Emmanuel Diaz Jr, Tianzhu shengjiao shijie zhiquan, in hk/books, Vol.1, p. 3. Nicolas Standaert, 'Lushan zhen mianmu-women nengbuneng liaojie biede wenhua', in Ershiyi shiji [Twenty-first Century], 16 (1993): 115-18,118. See Nicolas Standaert, 'Christianity as a Religion in China: Insights from the Handbook of Christianity in China: Volume One (635-1800)', Cahiers d!Extreme-Asie, 12 (2001): 1. This can be found in a series of questions raised by Nicolas Standaert see Standaert, 'Christianity as a Religion in China', p. 2. Accommodation concerns the adaptation of language and external elements, such as liturgical music and dress; but the evangelical message itself is considered as invariable. In contrast, inculturation brings about 'a new creation realized through the contribution of the local culture'. See Nicolas Standaert, 'Inculturation and Catholic-Chinese Relations in Late Ming and Early Qing', in Bernard Hung-Kay Luk (ed.), Contacts Between Cultures, Vol. 4: Eastern Asia: History and Social Sciences (New York Edwin Mellen Press, 1992), pp. 330-1. Archie C.C. Lee, 'Textural Confluence and Chinese Christian Identity: A Reading of Han Lin's Duo Shu', Chakana: Intercultural Forum of Theology and Philosophy, 2 (2004): 89-103, 90. Ye Xianggao, 'Xixue shijie chujie xu', in Siku quanshu jinhuishu congkan, Vol. 5 (Beijing: Beijing Press, 2000), p. 449. Ye Xianggao, 'Xixue shijie chujie xu', p. 449. Zhang Fengzhen, 'Xixuefan yu tianzhu shijie jielue', in Shenxue luncong, 11 (1972): 153-4; see also Nicolas Standaert, Yang Tingyun, Confucian and Christian in Late Ming China: His Life and Thought (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1988), p. 187. Standaert, Yang Tingyun, pp. 187-8. Archie Lee, 'Textural Confluence', p. 89. 'Shangshu Zhonghui zhi gao', Shisanjing zhu shu [Annotated Thirteen Classics] (Shanghai: Shanghai guji, 1997), p. 161. On Hanlin, baptized in 1620/21, see Fang Hao, Zhongguo tianzhujiao renwuzhuan, Vol. 1, pp. 253-4. Han Lin, THio shu', in Xujiahui cangshulou, Vol. 2, pp. 638-9. Wang Zheng, 'Wei tian ai ren ji luni' [On Fearing Heaven and Cherishing Human], in Andrew Chung (ed.), Ming mo Qing chu yesuhui sixiang wenxian huibian (Beijing: Beijing University, 2000), p. 21. Nicolas Standaert, 'Inculturation and Catholic-Chinese Relations', p. 332. Michele Ruggieri, Tianzhu shtiu, pp. 84-5. Nicolas Standaert, 'Inculturation and Catholic-Chinese Relations', p. 332. Yang Tingyun, 'Tian shi mingbian', in Wu Xiangxiang (ed.), Tianzhujiao dongchuan wenxian xubian, Vol. 1, p. 272. Zhang Zai, Zhang Zai ji [Collected works of Zhang Zai], ed. Zhang Xichen (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju,1978), pp. 62-3. The equivalent in Confucius is from Kongzijiayu: The

Confucian Catholics' Appropriation of the Decalogue

44. 45. 46. 47. 48.


50. 51.


53. 54. 55. 56.



benevolent man serves his parent like Heaven, and he serves Heaven like his parents/ Conversely, the care of God towards human beings is the same as that of parents towards their children. Yang Tingyun, T>ai yi pian', in Wu Xiangxiang (ed.), Tianzhujiao dongchuan wenxian, p. 567. Li Zhizao, Tianzhu shiyi chongke xu', in Li Zhizao (ed.), Tianxue chuhan, Vol. 1 (Taibei: Taiwan xuesheng shuju,1965), p. 353. Mathias Xia, 7ili paozhi', in Standaert and Dudink (eds), Luoma dang'an'guan, Vol.10, p. 91. Zhu Yupu, 'Shengjiao yuanliu', in Standaert and Dudink (eds), Luoma dang'an'guan, Vol. 3, p. 137. Matteo Ricci, 'Tianzhu shiyi', in Tianxue chuhan, Vol. 1, p. 420; Giulio Aleni, 'Sanshan lunxue', in Wu Xiangxiang (ed.), Tianzhujiao dongchuan wenxian xubian, Vol. 1, p. 437; Francesco Brancati, 'Shengjiao sigui', in Standaert and Dudink (eds), Luoma Dang'an'guan, Vol. 5, p. 283; Diego de Pantoja, 'Qike', in Tianxue chuhan, Vol. 2, p. 829; Tianzhu shengjiao shijie zhiquan, p. 83; Alfonso Vagnone, 'Tianzhu shijie jielue' (Tokyo: Neige wenku, 1956), p. 1, quoted in Standaert, Yang Tingyun [Confucian and Christian], p. 171, n. 39. There are three different methods of enumerating the Ten Commandments. Orthodox Judaism counts the introduction to the Decalogue, 1 am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage' (Ex. 20.2). The second commandment is a combination of the first and second commandment of the Protestant Reformed tradition: 'You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make yourself a graven image' (Ex. 20.3-4). Roman Catholic and Lutheran traditions also take the above two commandments as one. See Eduard Nielsen, The Ten Commandments in New Perspective: A Traditio-historical Approach, trans. David J. Bourke (London: SCM Press, 1968), pp. 10-13. Giulio Aleni, 'Kouduo richao', in Standaert and Dudink (eds), Luoma Dang'an'guan, Vol. 7, pp. 389-91. 'In the exposition of the first commandment, he says, we are to worship heaven and earth; and in the exposition of the third, that sacrifices may be offered to our saint, as is done in China to heaven, earth, master and other dead persons' (Standaert, Yang Tingyun, pp. 201-2). See also Yang Tingyun, 'Tianshi mingbian', in Wu Xiangxiang (ed.), Tianzhujiao dongchuan wenxian xubian, Vol.1, pp. 229-417. Under the leadership of Matteo Ricci, the Jesuits approved the veneration of ancestors, hoping in this way to penetrate China and convert the Chinese more easily, just as they assumed the appearance and names of Buddhist monks. When Matteo Ricci introduces Chinese customs and religions to the West, he writes: 'Confucians do not practise idol worship, in fact, they have no idol.' Li Madou (Matteo Ricci) and Jin Nige (Nicolas Trigault), Li Madou zhongguo zhaji, trans. He Gaoji, Wang Zunzhong and Li Shen (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2001), p.101. As one of three issues of Chinese rites controversy, ancestor worship has been discussed for a long time. For a good introduction, see Li Tiangang, Zhongguo liyi zhi zheng: lishi, wenxian he yiyi (Shanghai: Shanghai Guji, 1998). Erik Zurcher, A Complement to Confucianism: Christianity and Orthodoxy in Late Imperial China, p. 91. Standaert, 'Inculturation and Catholic-Chinese Relations', pp. 332-3. Cynthia J. Brokaw, The Ledgers of Merit and Demerit: Social Change and Moral Order in Late Imperial China (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), pp. 1-2. Nicolas Standaert, 'Christianity in Late Ming and Early Qing China as a Case of Cultural Transmission', in Stephen Uhally and Xiaoxin Wu (eds), China and Christianity: Burdened Past, Hopeful Future (New York: East Gate, 2001), pp. 95-6. Nicolas Standaert, 'Christianity in Late Ming and Early Qing China', pp. 81-105.


Tian Haihua

58. Mencius, 4A, 26. 59. The most serious criticism of the Jesuits was that they did not enter into the five basic human relationships (wulun,Jifa)' they do not marry, therefore they neglect the relation of husband and wife; they leave home, thus the relationship with their parents and siblings is broken; and by leaving their own country they lose the relationship with their ruler, so that only the relationship with friends remains. See Sun Xueshi, Shengshui jiyan, in Luoma Dang'an'guan, Vol. 8, pp. 17-18. Also Standaert, Yang Tingyun, Confucian and Christian, p. 158. 60. Li Dongyang, haw Code of Great Ming, rev. Shen shixing; redacted Zhao Yongxian (Taibei: Dongnan shubao she, 1963), Vol. 106, pp. 6-7. 61. Huang Yinong, 'Mingmo zhongxi wenhua chongtu zhi tanxi: yi tianzhujiaotu Wangzheng quqi weili', in Diyijie quanguo lishixue xueshu taolunhui lunwenji shibian, qunti yu geren (Taibei: Guoli Taiwan daxue lishixue xi, 1996), p. 218. 62. Huang Zhen, Qing yanzhuangqi xiansheng pi tianzhujiaoshu, in Xia Guiqi (ed.), Shengchao poxieji, Vol. 3 (Hong Kong: Jiandao shenxueyuan,1996), pp. 150-1. Cf. Jacques Gernet, China and the Christian Impact: A Conflict of Cultures (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 177. 63. Alfonso Vagnone, Jiaoyao jielue, pp. 164-5. 64. Diego de Pantoja, 'Qike', pp. 1045-6. 65. Diego de Pantoja, 'Qike', pp. 1408-9. 66. According to Pan Feng-chuan's study, there were three ways to solve this problem. The most common solution was that the convert was asked to separate from his concubine(s) forever: this was adopted by converts such as Yang Tingyun, Li Zhizao and Han Lin. A second way was to divorce: Chen Zheng, a disciple of Aleni, gave his concubine in marriage to another man along with a large amount of money and clothes. A third way was to marry the concubine (or one of the concubines) after the death of the legitimate wife: Qu Rukui and Wei Yijie did this. A more questionable solution involved the Jesuits allowing the convert to marry one of his concubines if the legitimate wife refused to become a Christian. (See Pan Feng-chuan, 'Moral Ideas and Practices', in Standaert (ed.), Handbook of Christianity in China, Vol. 1, p. 661.) 67. Huang Yinong, Mingmo zhongxi wenhua chongtu zhi tanxi, p. 220. 68. George H. Dunne, Generation of Giants: The Story of the Jesuits in China in the Last Decades of the Ming Dynasty (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1962), p. 99. 69. Dunne, Generation of Giants, pp. 113-14. 70. This story was recorded in Aleni's preaching work, Kouduo richao, Vol. 2, in Standaert and Dudink (eds), Luoma Dang'an'guan, Vol. 7, p. 106. Wang Zheng, one of the earliest Catholic Confucians who knew Latin, assisted Nicolas Trigault to edit a Latin-Chinese dictionary entitled Xiru ermu zi. (See Huang Yinong, Liangtou she: Mingmo qingchu de diyidai tianzhujiaotu [Xinzhu: Qinghua University Press, 2005], pp. 136-7.) 71. Huang Yinong, Mingmo zhongxi wenhua chongtu zhi tanxi, pp. 223-4. 72. Wang Zheng, 'Qiqing jiezui qigao', in Wu Xiangxiang (ed.), Tianzhujiao dongchuan wenxian sanbian, Vol. 2 (Taibei: Taiwan xuesheng shuju, 1972), pp. 835-7. 73. Willard J. Peterson, 'Why Did they Become Christian? Yang T'ing-yun, Li Chih-tsao, and Hsu Kuang-ch'i', in Charles E. Ronan and Bonnie B.C. Oh (eds), East Meets West: The Jesuits in China, 1582-1773 (Chicago, IL: Loyola University Press, 1988), p. 147.

11 Translating and Chanting the Psalms: A Retrospective on the Use of the Bible in the Chinese Catholic Church in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century Mark Fang The English version of this chapter has a sub-title: looking back at the use the Catholic Church has made of the Bible across the second half of the twentieth century. The main title and sub-title draw together the theme of this paper: reflecting on the use the Chinese Catholic Church has made in its liturgy and prayer of the prayer book of the first covenant, the Psalms. From the 1950s through until the end of the century, the Chinese political arena underwent seismic changes, and every branch of the Christian Church felt the influence of these, in all aspects of life. What is remarkable, is that during this chaotic time the first Chinese-language edition of the Catholic Bible was completed, revised and published. The translation began in Beijing and ended in Hong Kong, and was later transmitted to Taiwan, the Philippines and the diasporic body of overseas Chinese. This essay takes the book of Psalms as a base for reflection, recollection and overview of that 50-year period. It is divided into three parts: (1) On the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (SBF) Book of Psalms1 and Wu

Jingxiong's First Draft Translation of the Psalms;2 (2) On The Psalms printed

in versified form with end-rhymes (Hong Kong: SBF, 1968), and revisions to First Draft Translation of the Psalms, reprinted as Translated Psalms;3 (3)

Revisions to the Book of Psalms4 made following the second Vatican Council when the SBF Bible became widely used and the Taiwanese Catholic Association published a more polished translation suitable for chanting.

1. The establishment of the Studium Biblium Franciscanum and publication of the Book of Psalms Fr Lei Yongming (Gabriele M. Allegra, OFM 1907-76) was the architect of the Chinese Catholic translation of the full Bible. As he wrote, 'Learning Chinese, studying the Holy Scriptures, and beginning to translate the Scriptures into Chinese was the main work of my life at that time, and the start of my missionary life/5 In April 1935, when Lei formally began 181


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work on the translation, he made use of both the Chinese Translation of the Complete Latin Vulgate by the Jesuit He Qingtai, a photo-print of which he had taken the opportunity of a trip to Beijing to acquire, and the incomplete eighteenth-century Chinese translation of the Old and New Testaments by Father Jean Basset of the Societe des Missions Etrangeres de Paris.6 The labours of former saints were evidently of much help to Fr Lei in his translation work. By the summer of 1938, however, Lei was suffering from acute headaches and had to return to his native Italy in order to recuperate. He used his time away from China to deepen his biblical studies at the Jesuit Institute in Rome and at the seminary of the Jerusalem SBF.7 In 1941 Lei returned via the USA and Japan, flying into Shanghai in April of that year, and journeyed by train to Beijing to continue his translation work. On 21 November 1944 he completed his translation of the entire New and Old Testaments, and on 2 August 1945 the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum loaned a dormitory attached to Fu Jen University and began to operate.8 In the short space of the three years after the war (1945-48) the Society changed its location four times, T>ut the harmonious atmosphere among members of the society never disappeared'. In September 1946 the first fruits of the Society were finally brought forth, in a 514-page Book of Psalms. In 1947 the Wisdom books were published, and in 1948 the Torah. In autumn of 1948 the Society moved to Hong Kong, where it received the welcome of the local bishop, En Lijue. In the summer of 1948 Fr Lei went to Rome to request assistance, and had an audience with Pope Pius XII, where he obtained the support of the Holy Father and the Propaganda Fidei to buy No. 70 Jianni Road in Hong Kong. It was here over the next 20 years (1950-73) that the task of translating the Holy Scriptures into Chinese was completed.9 When Lei returned to Taiwan, not long after the publication of the Book of Psalms, he sent a volume to the renowned musician Jiang Wenye. Lei later wrote in his recollections: He [Jiang Wenye] didn't so much read it as swallow it whole; it was as though he felt an irresistible force to set to music the entire psalms of the Israelite people. I cautiously gave him to understand that I couldn't guarantee any recompense for him, but he insisted that at the time when he had been in prison and felt his case might be difficult to resolve, he had made such a vow to God.10 The acquaintance and co-operation of Lei and Jiang was indeed marvellous serendipity.11 In the same year that Lei's Book of Psalms was published (1946), Wu Jingxiong also published the results of his many years of labour, the First Draft Translation of the Psalms, through the

Shanghai Commercial Press. At the front of the volume in place of prefatory remarks was a letter in French that the Bishop of Shanghai, Mgr A. Hawisee, SJ, had written to Wu, followed by prefaces from Bishop Yu Wenzong of Nanjing and Bishop Zhu Ximeng of the Jiangsu Seaboard.12 When those who can appreciate the beauty of Chinese poetry read these psalms, translated into old poetic metres, they can only marvel at the

Translating and Chanting the Psalms


skill of Wu Jingxiong and experience the richness and adaptability of the Chinese language. Wu's translation was greatly welcomed among Chinese speakers, being reprinted three times within the first year.

2. Use of poetry in The Psalms, and the revised draft of the Translation of the Psalms. The Studium Biblium Franciscanum continued its translation and publishing work in Hong Kong: in 1949 publishing a first volume of the Old Testament histories, and in 1950 a second volume. In 1951 they brought out the book of Isaiah; in 1952, Jeremiah and Ezekiel; in 1954 Daniel and the 12 minor prophets; in 1957 the four gospels; in 1958 the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Paul; in 1961 the pastoral letters and the book of Revelation. At this point, the translations, annotations and reference material for the entire Bible, and guides for individual books, were all complete, forming eight volumes for the Old Testament and three for the New. The next stage of work was to condense, revise and print the 11 volumes of material into a single-volume edition. This huge task took seven years, and was completed by Christmas 1968.13 The SBF single-volume edition before us is a hefty tome of 2,060 pages. It is printed on thin paper but without the print coming through, the typeface is clear, and the binding is fine and tasteful. The six attachments at the back are valuable reference material, especially the 'Chronological Table of World Events' and the 'Year Calendar, Church Calendar and Table of Festivals', which give useful information for daily life. One particular feature of the single-volume edition is that the 150 psalms are no longer printed as prose,14 but line divisions are made as for poetry. However, the Book of Psalms is the only book in the SBF Bible with poetry printed as poetry. As everyone is now aware, large portions of the Wisdom literature and of the prophets were in poetic form. This will undoubtedly be reconsidered in later editions of the SBF Bible.15 During this same period, Wu Jingxiong was transforming his draft translation into a revised edition for publication with the Taiwan Commercial Press. A dedication at the front of the text reads: 'I respectfully offer this revised translation to the spirit of President Jiang [Jieshi, i.e. Chiang Kai-shek] and commemorate his hard work in revising and improving the first draft'. The three prefaces from the first edition have been removed, but in their place is one written by Archbishop Luo Guang in August 1975. In substance it reads: There are quite a few corrections to the first draft in this edition, to bring it closer to the original sense of the Psalms. It seeks a greater elegance in the verse, bringing clarity to the hidden and obscure, and fluency to the awkward and difficult... Wu's translation of the Psalms began in 1937 when Shanghai was under Japanese occupation. Wu was imprisoned in the city, alone in his tiny room, downcast in spirits, and he translated his first few psalms to ease his heavy spirits. The first psalm he selected was Psalm 23: 'My


Mark Fang

Lord is my shepherd/I have no need of any fear ... even though I walk in a dark valley/God is with me, what sorrow can there b e . . / Wu was trapped by the enemy, and fearful in his heart, but the words of the psalms calmed his mind. At this time he had no intention of translating the entire book. The remainder of the preface describes how Chiang Kai-shek delighted in correcting the translation of each psalm, and is of certain historic interest. It is worth noting, too, a comment at the end of the preface from Abbot Lu Weixiang, 'When Wu Jingxiong wields his pen, the Holy Spirit wields his hand, without thought and without anxiety, in one brush stroke it is completed/ This sentiment accords with the views of many readers of the translation.

3. Rhyme schemes in psalmody translation and the chanting of psalms The Second Vatican Council closed in 1965, and by 1968 its sixteen documents (four constitutions, nine decrees and three declarations) had been translated into Chinese. Under the encouragement and guidance of the four constitutions, the Jesuit Institute attached to Fu Jen University had just been transferred back from the Philippines in the summer of 1967 to its motherland in Taiwan. The first year intake at the Institute in 1967-68 still operated in English, but in the new academic year of 196869, Chinese was used for theological instruction, and in the autumn of 1969, with the re-publication of the periodical Shenxue lunji [Collected Articles on Theology], the way ahead was set for teaching and writing theology in Chinese. At this time the SBF Bible and the versified psalms were just coming into circulation: the Bible could be used for teaching in class, and the psalms chanted and sung in the Daily Office and other liturgical settings. The Catholic Church Association edited a Chinese language missal and Daily Office. The missal presented more fluent, polished excerpts from the New and Old Testaments within the Mass, although there remain occasional places where the sense departs from the original meaning.16 In the case of the Daily Office, the rearrangement of the psalms has been relatively successful.17 The psalms that Jiang Wenye had set to music played a significant part in the vigorous development of the Taiwanese Catholic Church at this key time in the 1960s and 1970s. The success of the Jesuit Guangqi press at Taizhong, for example, is generally recognized as resting on two books: the first was the Complete New Testament, translated by Fr Xiao Jingshan,18 and the second the collected assortment of ritual songs, Collected Sacred Songs.19 This was the first such scale edition of collected religious songs published by Taiwanese Catholics, and included a dozen of Jiang Wenye's compositions. The second hymn collection which followed on from this was truly epoch-making: Shengjing Yuezhang, the Chinese edition of Biblical Hymns and Psalms, by Lucien Deiss, CS Sp, edited by the Fu Jen Seminary. This volume was published in September

Translating and Chanting the Psalms


1970 by the Guangqi Press in a run of 5,000, which rapidly sold out, with a revised reprint of 3,000 coming out November. This collection of songs clearly met the needs of the post-Vatican II era. Following the distribution of this collection of hymns, various editions of hymn anthologies came out in Taiwan and Hong Kong, appearing like new shoots after spring rains. In Taiwan alone, at the beginning of the 1970s Fr Yang Shihao SVD printed his Joyful Music over the Years [Huanyue nianhua]. A notable feature of this volume was its addition of popular songs, in front of the religious songs. Until the third edition in 1974, these songs were greater in number than the religious songs (104 vs 86). By the second reprint of the third edition (1976) the religious songs had increased markedly in number and proportion (145:104). One of the sources of these songs was the earlier Chinese edition of Biblical Hymns and Psalms.20 Another hymn collection with a relatively wide circulation was the Hosanna collection edited by the Yongquan Jiaoyi Zhongxin (Eternal Spring Doctrine Centre), which was published by the Catholic Huaming press, collating more than 330 religious songs. There were 20 of Jiang Wenye's compositions in the collection, of which four were Marian songs, and the other 16 renditions of the psalms.21 The editor of that volume, Lei Huilang, noted in her preface that she intended, as far as possible, to include the names of both songwriter and composer. As a result, while the Biblical Hymns and Psalms recorded just the name of the writer, the new volume also included the name of the musical composer, and it could be seen for the first time that Jiang Wenye was the composer of many of the tunes.22 A recent example of hymn collection with a relatively wide circulation is the Light Music to God's Glory [Qingge zan Zhu rong], edited and

published in 1983 by the Taiwan Catholic University Graduates' Association. This volume, like the Joyful Music collection above, was split into two main sections, with 157 secular songs, and 240 religious songs. While it adopted the form of Joyful Music, the content and format were greatly increased and improved. The 1994 edition was a particularly thick volume, with over 500 songs in total in the collection. The latest development in hymn collections has been the Taize style of prayer and song. In 1990 Guangqi Press published Taize Combined Prayers and Songs. The words of the songs and prayers were from the Taize community and the music compositor was Jacques Berthler. This volume presented 47 exquisite short songs which were easy to chant and easy to learn, and which could be used in various liturgical and prayer-settings; the volume was extremely well-received. In 1995 three new reprints were made, and in 2000, with a name change to Taize Praise Songs, another edition was published with 30 new songs in the same style, with an even wider circulation; the same year saw yet another print-run of the volume. Taiwanese editions of the Psalms have been influential well beyond Taiwan. At the Christian Academy run by the Holy Work Convent Association in Manila, for example, where much effort is put into musical training, the chanting of prayers at each morning Mass and evening office includes stringed and choral accompaniment to the reading of Scripture. Many of the nuns of this group come from old


Mark Fang

Catholic areas of northern China, and have brought with them new tunes and new musical arrangements from their hometowns - the Mass and other settings that mainland musicians had composed after the Second Vatican Council. The multi-part singing of the trained voices has a very particular flavour: one of the successes of the ritual renewal and indigenization advocated by Vatican II. For Evening Prayer, the Christian Academy uses compositions of the Taiwanese nun Chen Meilu, published as Everyday Praise by the Bishops' Secretariat, with each Magnificat having a different setting. As for the intonation shifts in the songs and chants, apart from the traditional eight Latin tonal changes, they also use Chinese tones which change many times within a tune. It is apparent to a listener how much the Taiwan Liturgical Commission accomplished in its revisions to the Daily Office psalms. The division of psalms into antiphonal pairs, the length of each verse and the rhyme tones, the selection and harmonizing of the four Chinese speech tones all of these influence the fluency of the singing, and whether or not it sounds harmonious, and all of these are peculiarities of the Chinese written language and tonal systems. The twentieth century was a century of great human conflict. After 1945 and the close of the Second World War, and with the threat of the atom bomb over us, few could imagine what sort of scenario would ensue. Within the sphere of Christian faith, 1948 saw the establishment of the World Council of Churches, and in 1961 its apogee in the 3rd Council meeting in New Delhi, at which was put forward the tripart theme of fellowship, service and witness, or koinonia, diakonia and martyria. The Catholic Church for its part saw the opening of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). This Council did not change Catholic beliefs or traditions, but did give the Church a new appearance. For China, the twentieth century was a century of great political questions and extreme change: from several thousand years of imperial rule to the establishment of the Republic; from the Republic of China to the People's Republic. There was nothing in the previous several hundred years' experience that could compare in terms of the experiences and pain that the people underwent, and its scope and intensity. What is a cause of surprise now is that it was precisely during this half century of privation and difficulty that the translation into Chinese of the first full Catholic Bible was completed. With a Catholic Bible as their foundation, rituals, theology and precepts all had a sure base. The Vatican II documentation at this time gave stimulus and encouragement for Chinese churches in all places to enter the world current of Catholicism.

Translating and Chanting the Psalms


Notes This essay was translated by Chloe Starr. 1. Beiping: SBF, 1946. 2. Shanghai: Shangwu, 1946. 3. Taipei: Shangwu, 1975. 4. Taipei: Tiandujiao wu xiesinhui, 1982. 5. An Dafu, Lei Yongming shenfu xiaozhnan [Biography of Father Lei Yongming], trans. Han Chengliang (Taipei: SBF Publishing, 1986), p. 13. 6. Lei Yongming shenfu xiaozhuan, p. 14. 7. Lei Yongming shenfu xiaozhuan, pp. 16-18. 8. See Lei Yongming shenfu huiyi lu [Memoirs of Father Lei Yongming], trans. Han Yongliang (Taipei: SBF Publishing, 1987), p. 122. This incident was, 30 years later, the subject of a special edition of Duosheng [Vox Cleri] journal in August 1975. 9. Evidence for this paragraph is taken from Lei Yongming shenfu xiaozhuan, pp. 24-5. At his meeting with the Pope, the Pope blessed him with the words: 'As you started your translation work from "In the beginning, God created heaven and earth", you shall certainly conclude with the last sentence of Revelation, "Lord Jesus, Come!"', p. 26. 10. Jiang Wenye, 'Xieyu "Shengyong" zuoqu ji diyi juan wancheng hou' [On Finishing the First Volume of Music for Psalms] in Music for Psalms, Vol. I (Beiping: Fangqitang SBF, 1947), p. 151. 11. Between 1947 and 1948, Jiang Wenye wrote 64 pieces of Chinese religious music. During this period, every Sunday he came to the Institute chapel to listen to the members sing the Mass, and afterwards talked with Fr Lei Yongming for up to an hour at a time. See Cai Shiya, Jiang Wenye ji qi zongjiao shengyue zuom'n jieshao [An Introduction to Jiang Wenye and his Religious Music] (Hong Kong: Zhenli Xuehui Press, 1999), pp. 7-8. 12. Mgr Hawisee's introduction reflected on the chaotic situation of China at that time, divided against itself, and the role of the psalms as tools in helping people overcome evil and seek peace. Bishop Zhu had been of one six bishops consecrated by Pius XI in Rome in 1926, and was nearly 80 when he penned the introduction. 13. See Lei Yongming shenfu xiaozhuan, pp. 28-9. This method of composition was the same as for the French Jerusalem Bible: first translate, revise and write introductions to each section, and then combine into one volume. 14. This was not so strange. Even the Old Testament translated by someone born Jewish, like Samuel Schereschewsky (1831-1906), used prose layout for the Psalms. See Schereschewsky (trans.), The Bible: Old and New Testaments (Shanghai: American Bible Society, 1913; repr. Taiwan Shenggonghui, St John's Technical University, 2005). On Schereschewsky's translation, see Cao Jian, 'The Chinese Mandarin Bible: Exegesis and Bible Translating', The Bible Translator, Technical Papers, 57.3 (2006): 122-38. 15. The Xiandai Zhongwen yiben shengjing [Modern Chinese Translation of the Bible], rev. edn of 1995 has Proverbs and Isaiah, etc. in poetic form. 16. For example, changing the two occasions in John (Chs 2 and 19) where Jesus refers to Mary as 'woman' to 'mother'. 17. These 150 polished and regulated psalms were later turned into a book, which also included the 26 canticles from the Old Testament and 12 from the New Testament which are sung as part of the Daily Office, including the three daily ones of the Benedictus, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. See Zhongguo zhujiao tuanti weiyuanhui (eds), Zange [Praise Songs] (Taipei: Tianzhujiao Jiaowu Xiejinhui, 1982). 18. This volume based on the Vulgate was published on the mainland in 1922 as Xinjing quanshu [Complete New Testament] and was well received. The many Taiwanese reprints were published under the title Xinjing quanji. 19. In two editions, one with musical (stave) notation and one with the simplified numerical musical notation. The 1st edn was published in 1962, and the 9th in 1982.


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20. At this point in Taiwanese society, the notion of copyright was not yet regarded as important, and within the Church people would ask even fewer questions, with a certain sense of common property prevailing. 21. The four were: the Magnificat, Tota pulchra es, o Maria; Salve Regina and Regina caeli laetare. The 16 psalms were concentrated early on in the Book of Psalms: from 10 to 59. 22. Thefirstsentence of the last paragraph of Lei's introduction, To sing is to pray twice', might be expanded upon. This sentence derives from St Augustine's 'Qui bene cantat, bis orat.' Chinese has no means of translating the parallelism of bene-bis, but it can be rendered in Chinese, with assonance and parallelism, as 'chan ge, chang de hao, shi shuangbei de qidao' (To sing well, is to pray twice'); that is to say, to sing alone is not enough, the singing must be done well for it to be prayer.

12 Perspectives on John C.H. Wu's Translation of the New Testament Lloyd Haft The year 1949 was in many ways a Great Divide between seemingly incommensurable periods of Chinese history, and, as was the case with the Soviet Union and the imperial Russian period which had preceded it, the coming of a new political entity reached down so thoroughly into all sectors of life that even the conventions and styles of writing were changed. In China after 1949, the 'new7 style continued the existing trend towards marginalization of the old Chinese literary language, the socalled wenyan, while asserting and popularizing stylistic norms much different from those which linguistic modernization was to produce in Chinese-speaking areas which remained outside the jurisdiction of the new state. But that same year, 1949, which in so many respects was the beginning of a new linguistic era in China, also saw the publication (in Hong Kong) of a Roman Catholic New Testament translation which was grammatically conservative if not positively nostalgic, at the same time that it was daring and distinctive as regards diction and allusion. This was the Xinjing quanji (New Scripture Complete)1 translated by Wu Jingxiong (John C.H. Wu, 1899-1986), in which the Gospel of John begins with the words 'In the beginning was the Dao/ Wu was not only a prominent specialist in law - he was largely responsible for drafting the constitution of the Republic of China - but one of the twentieth century's most famous converts to Catholicism.2 His translation was first written during the Second World War and then later, while he was China's representative to the Vatican, revised for publication. (Besides the New Testament, Wu also published, among many other things, an oft-quoted translation of the Daodejing which was reissued by Shambhala as recently as 2005.) Wu's translation was heralded as an event in the Chinese-speaking Catholic world. In addition to the imprimatur, the book carried a letter of felicitation by Pope Pius XII. The text of the translation was, and still is, regarded by many native speakers as one of the most elegant, most 'Chinese-sounding' Bible translations ever made. Yet it has not been republished for many years and is now of extreme rarity even in Taiwan. (Fortunately, the entire text can now be accessed free of charge at www. The stock reason one hears for the oblivion into which this translation has drifted is that the 'classical' Chinese style used by Wu, beautiful though it be, strikes 'young readers nowadays' as 189


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objectionably archaic, at times even incomprehensible. It was inevitable, so the argument runs, that Wu's version should be superseded by the socalled Sigao Bible of 1968, a stylistically less impressive Catholic translation in vernacular language. I suspect another reason is at least as relevant. Wu's translation was not only financed but also affected by the editorial comments of Chiang Kai-shek. In 1937 Wu was already working on translations of the Psalms; through personal contacts Chiang came to read these and expressed his interest in them. After undergoing various perils and dislocations in the first years of the war, in 1942 Wu arrived with his family in southwest China where Chiang's government had installed itself (Peking and many other areas of north and east China were occupied by the Japanese invaders). Wu's financial outlook was uncertain and he had a large family to care for. Song Meiling (or Mayling Soong, Madame Chiang Kaishek) personally proposed that Wu could apply his talents to making a full translation of the New Testament - and that he could receive an appropriate stipend from the 'personal funds' of Chiang Kai-shek.3 This was the beginning of an arrangement which on the one hand made Wu's translation possible, yet also gave it a lasting political colouration which in the long-run would be damaging to its reputation in ways which the translator could not have foreseen. Wu started working on his translation towards the end of 1942. As he finished each book of the New Testament, he sent it to Chiang Kai-shek, who duly responded with written commentary and suggestions. Chiang's suggestions included possible changes to the phrasing, which Wu often adopted. According to Wu's own later remarks, it was at Chiang's prompting, for example, that he changed the metrical structure of the prologue to the Gospel of John from five to four syllables per line, a change in form which led to significant modifications in the text. To many readers in the turbulent and patriotic 1940s and the ensuing Cold War years, the association with Chiang Kai-shek undoubtedly seemed less objectionable than to those born and raised in a later era. The book version of Wu's translation of the Psalms, in particular, makes a weird impression on the modern reader, bearing as it does on the front cover the words 'under the editorial supervision of Chairman Chiang'. But the New Testament, as reprinted in 1967, also contains a foreword by Archbishop Luo Guang in which he praises Chiang and his wife for the role they played in the realization of the translation. It may be that this repeated emphasis on Wu's cooperation with Chiang Kai-shek has caused the translation to be one of the cultural victims of the disrepute into which Chiang's name has fallen. Neither in the People's Republic of China nor in the anti-Nationalist Taiwan of recent years would 'editorially supervised by Chiang Kai-shek' be the thing to say to promote a new book. Nor would many young readers even if they were aware of its existence be interested in - the 265-page book which Wu published in 1975: The Spiritual Life of President Chiang. Detrimental as the connection with Chiang may have been for the survival of Wu's translation, for the student it has had at least one wonderful result: the complete manuscript of Wu's New Testament

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translation, including the notes and suggestions pencilled by Chiang and Wu in the margins, has been not only preserved but published in a bibliophile edition. The year 1986, in which Wu Jingxiong died, was also the centennial of Chiang Kai-shek's birth. The coincidence of these dates was the occasion for reproduction of the full manuscripts of Wu's New Testament and Psalms as indeed 'editorially supervised' by Chiang. There are no indications in the text as to publisher or date of publication, nor can these data be found in the catalogue of the National Library in Taipei. The afterword, in which 1986 is given as date of publication, is by Qin Xiaoyi, the then chair of the Committee on Party History of the (nationalist) Kuomintang. According to Qin, in 1979 Wu had already turned over the manuscripts to him 'for the collection'. I strongly suspect that the manuscript was reproduced and brought into small-scale circulation by the Committee on Party History.4

1. Classical echoes The advisability or otherwise of translating the Bible into literary or 'classical' Chinese (wenyan) in the mid-twentieth century is, as I see it, open to discussion. Nowadays we perhaps too easily assume that only a translation into supposedly 'current' language deserves, or has prospects of winning, an audience. Perhaps Wu felt it was more respectful or reverent to translate in a style reminiscent of native Chinese wisdom books, whether Daoist, Buddhist or Neo-Confucian. In any case, there is one effect of translation into wenyan that is not often commented upon: that because of the preponderance of one-syllable words in wenyan, there is much more possibility of a given word awakening direct echoes of the same word as used in classical Chinese texts which were also written in that idiom. By comparison, the modern language abounds in twosyllable expressions which sound like, and by native speakers are often explicitly used as, lengthier variants or explications of originally monosyllabic terms. The two-syllable modern words are often much more specific as to meaning; this means that for a translator who wishes to preserve an ambivalence or polyvalence in the original, wenyan may have advantages. A striking example is Wu's handling, as far as I know unique to him, of Jn 17.21: 'as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee ...' Where most English versions show the Father and the Son being 'in' each other, Wu writes 'zheng ru wu Fu ti yu, yu ti wu Fu, lE^Pl^ ^dS^?, ^ I f © ^ ' . It is not easy to give an English crib to this because even native speakers are hesitant as to just what the monosyllable ti, here used twice as a transitive verb, means. It could be 'embody7 but also 'be embodied in, be present in', also 'have as body' or 'cause to have a body', also 'fully and empathetically understand', or yet again 'enter into' whether mentally or factually. (The modern Chinese speaker would have to choose among two-syllable expressions which give greater nuance.) An appropriately polyvalent English equivalent would be - deliberately trying to include the possible meanings of the verb 'realize' as both "be fully cognizant of and 'bring


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into full effectuation' - something like 'just as the Father realizes me and I realize the Father'. The difficulty (hence also the pregnancy) of this word reflects controversies among the old Chinese philosophical commentators as to what ti meant in their own canonical texts. One of its most oft-quoted occurrences (which generations of Chinese scholars and students knew by heart) was from the Thong Yong [Doctrine of the Mean], one of the 'Four Books' which formed a digest of Confucian teachings as reinterpreted in the Sung and Ming dynasties by the so-called NeoConfucian philosophers and maintained as a textbook of orthodoxy up until the end of the Chinese empire. The passage is from Zhong Yong, 16, 1-2, in James Legge's translation: The Master said, "How abundantly do spiritual beings display the powers that belong to them! We look for them, but do not see them; we listen to, but do not hear them; yet they enter into all things [italics mine, in the original ti wu], and there is nothing without them." 5 In his commentary Legge maintains his characteristic deadpan tone, saying that the meaning of the ti phrase in this passage 'cannot be determined'. He explains that 'the old interpreters' take ti to mean 'to give birth to', and according to one of them, the 'spiritual beings' are themselves the Dao, 'embodied in heaven'. Couvreur translated this passage more than once: in Les quatre Livres and in Li Ki, both times in French as well as Latin. In Les quatre Livres the phrase I have italicized appears in French as 'Us sont en toutes choses ...' and in Latin as 'Unum corpus efficiunt cum rebus ...' 6 In Li Ki the formulations are quite different: in French 'ils constituent tous les etres ...' and in Latin 'Constituunt res .. / 7 In his Chinese-French dictionary of classical Chinese, Couvreur lists various meanings for ti used as a verb, including: 'faire partie d'un tout,' 'former semble un seul et meme corps', 'etre etroitement uni'. One of the examples cited is a phrase from the Zhong Yong in which Couvreur translates ti as 'considere et traite ... comme ses membres'.8 Richard Wilhelm in his Li Gi wrote: 'Der Meister sprach: Wie herrlich sind doch die Geisteskrafte der Gotter und Ahnen! Man schaut nach ihnen und sieht sie nicht; man horcht nach ihnen und hort sie nicht. Und doch gestalten sie die Dinge, und keines kann ihrer entbehren.'9 But this word ti also occurred in the Daoist Zhuangzi, where it was likewise variously interpreted. In Zhuangzi, Ch. 7, we are advised to ti jin wu qiong. In Graham's translation this is 'become wholly identified with the limitless'.10 Burton Watson reads it as 'embody to the fullest what has no end'.11 In the German version by Richard Wilhelm this becomes a thirdperson statement: 'Er beachtet das Kleinste und ist doch unerschopflich .. ,'12 The use of the verb beachten (heed, pay attention to) for ti seems to imply that Wilhelm here sides with the interpreters who take the word in a more psychological sense. Comparing these versions, we note two overall tendencies of interpretation. Some translators take ti to mean to be one with, or to

Perspectives on John C.H. Wu's Translation of the New Testament


form a single whole with; others take it more psychologically as a sympathetic or intuitive identification with. Is the most basic reference to a cognitive or psychic process or, on the other hand, to a factual or existential condition of unity? The eminent nineteenth-century sinologists could not easily decide: not only had they found both meanings attested in ancient Chinese texts; the Chinese commentators themselves read the word now this way, now that.13 I have never seen another Chinese translation which uses ti as a transitive verb in Jn 17.21. In the early seventeenth-century collection of liturgical gospel readings translated by the legendary Jesuit Manuel Dias Jr14 there is, however, perhaps a suggestive parallel in Lk. 6.36 'Be merciful, then, as your Father is merciful/ Here Dias has ke ti er Fu ai xin ^IHi!ikW5£.MJ1b. It seems to me this ti could be taken as meaning either 'embody (and in that sense show forth) the Father's mercy' or T>e fully in empathetic unison with the Father's mercy'. John C.H. Wu does not use a ti construction in his own version of this passage.

2. What does one call a Word? Was it strange in 1949 to see a 'legitimate' Roman Catholic translation using a Daoist term for 'our' Second Person, the Son who is the Word? No, but again: yes. No, because the use of Dao to translate Logos in the first verse of John was already well known since 1836/7, when it was made public in the New Testament translation by Walter H. Medhurst and Karl F.A. Giitzlaff.15 Yes, because although Giitzlaff and Medhurst's example was soon followed by many other translators, this was true only in the Protestant world. Wu's was evidently the first officially approved Roman Catholic translation to adopt this usage which by then had become more or less standard in Chinese owing to the greater numbers and wider distribution of Protestant Bibles. In this sense, Wu was able to profit from a liberalizing trend which made it possible for mid-twentieth-century Catholic translators to use native Chinese terms instead of the sometimes unwieldy transliterations from Latin which had been obligatory until then. Not many years before, in 1937, the Catholic translator Ma Xiangbo had still begun his Gospel of John with 'In the beginning was the true word Wuerpeng $}Wffl.' Wu-er-peng, a three-syllable transmogrification of v-er-bum, had been in use by translators at least since Dias. If it meant anything at all to Chinese readers without additional explanation, it must have seemed to mean more or less 'A Something which is your friend'. The Jesuit Li Wenyu, in his Church-approved Catholic translation which appeared in 1897, maintains Wuerpeng but adds an intertextual note: 'Wuerpeng is yan [ g 'word'] in Chinese. It is the Holy Son of the Heavenly Lord. The reason why he is called 'word' is that he was/is brought into being by the Holy Father, just as words come out of the mind of a person/ Unlike either Dao or yan meaning 'word', which was eventually to appear in other versions, Wuerpeng was a newly coined term. As such it at least maintained the creative non-translatability of the


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original: clearly, the prospective convert to Christianity was faced with a new concept which would have to be learned in the actual practice of the new religion. Another difference with yan is that Wuerpeng does not, as yan does, tend to suggest emphasis on what is only one of the possible meanings of Logos: a 'word' as actually spoken or written, an element of existing language. This lean towards the 'word' as an instrument of proclamation, preaching and instruction may have been one feature of yan which made it attractive to the early Protestant translator Robert Morrison (1813). But it had already been used in a Catholic manuscript Gospel Harmony (usually attributed to J. Basset, c. 1700?) which Morrison consulted and can be seen very substantially to have based parts of his own translation upon.16 Translation of the Word as strictly a 'word' is problematical in that it obscures the main point of this gospel: that the Incarnation was not just verbal but personal. John C.H. Wu's use of Dao was, then, the official Catholic primeur of what had long been a Protestant prerogative. Wu's usage may have been one of the influences which led the later translators of the Chinese version of the Pastoral Bible (Muling Shengjing) in the late 1990s to employ Dao rather than the sheng yan Wm 'holy word' which had been current in the Catholic world since the Sigao Bible of 1968. In any case, the translators of the Chinese Jerusalem Bible explicitly refer to Wu's translation as the precedent of their own choice for Dao.17 Was Wu's use of Dao an indication that he was consciously striving for a vocabulary which could be read in senses other than the Christian? I would rather say, more cautiously, that it can be seen as one of the textual elements which place him in a broader and more ecumenical perspective than that of many other Catholic translators. In Jn 1.14, for example, in the passage 'the Word was made flesh', Wu's phrasing is identical with great Protestant translations into wenyan - the midnineteenth-century Delegates' Bible and the early twentieth-century CUV - but divergent from his Catholic precedents. It is true that Wu was, and sometimes still is, accused of going rather far in suggesting parallels between Christian and 'Chinese' thought. Some of his own essays, even those written after his conversion, are quite explicit in this regard. More than once he states that 'God' and 'Dao' refer to the same thing - which, however, cannot be adequately indicated by any word. In 'A Comparison of Chinese and Western Cultures', we read that to call God 'father' is to use an 'analogy', since God is above all distinction 'of yin and yang, male and female'.18 God and Dao are both terms 'for an unknown X'. Precisely because of this 'unknown' quality, Wu says it is not only permissible but preferable to regard God as a 'person' - for exactness the term appears in English in the Chinese text. Since any word we could use would be dubious, says Wu, we might as well use the most 'respectful' possibility: and we feel more respect for a person than for an abstraction. In the same essay, John C.H. Wu says frankly that although he is a Catholic, he personally feels that the 'Oriental' notion of the ineffability and 'mysteriousness' of the Dao (which again he explicitly equates with

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'God') is an indispensable component necessary to the 'completeness7 of the God-concept.

3. Neo-Confucian parallels In the world of Chinese language and thought, the word Dao is not limited to what seems to us its most obvious meaning: the Dao of Daoism. A daochang or 'Dao venue', for example, may very well be a Buddhist centre. And daoxne, the 'study of the Dao' or 'science of the Dao', normally refers not to Daoism but to Neo-Confucianism. An indication that John C.H. Wu's Logos associations went further than the specifically Daoist Dao is found on the first page of the manuscript of his translation of the Gospel of John. There, in a note penned in the margin, he alludes to several well-known Neo-Confucian passages. The note begins: 'The Dao is inborn perfection; without inborn perfection there would be no things.'19 The first clause of this seems a slight revision of Zhong Yong 20.18 ('Inborn perfection is the Dao of heaven'), while the second phrase ('without inborn perfection there would be no things') is a literal quote from Zhong Yong 25.2. The marginal note continues with a passage from the ancient Shujing [Book of Documents] which inspired commentary by the great founder of NeoConfucianism Zhu Xi, to the effect that 'the thouehts of man are precarious; his sense for the Dao is but rudimentary'. In his original manuscript version of Rom. 12.2, Wu had used a literal quote from the opening sentence of one of the Neo-Confucian Four Books, the Daxne: zhi yu zhi shan (Legge: 'to rest in the highest excellence') where the biblical text exhorts to 'satisfy yourselves what is God's will, the good thing, the desirable thing, the perfect thing'.21 This usage disappeared from the published version, but the published version of Col. 3.10 combines the zhi yu of this phrase with the term liang zhi 'innate wisdom/awareness' which was one of the most fundamental concepts of Wang Yangming's Neo-Confucian philosophy. The resulting phrase zhi yu liang zhi, which we might translate 'stay with innate knowledge/ awareness', applies to what the Knox version translates as 'the new self, that is being refitted all the time for closer knowledge, so that the image of the God who created it is its pattern'. Yet another literal adoption of a key term from the opening sentence of the Daxue is Wu's published version of Rom. 3.23, in which ming de (Legge's 'illustrious virtue', which we might rather translate 'efficaciousness of clarity') is clearly intended to translate 'the glory of God'.

4. Dao and context As mentioned earlier, to translate Logos simply as 'word' is, if not to distort, at least to narrow and confine a concept which even in the original was of broader than exclusively Christian applicability. We need to remember (as it seems so-called 'concordant' translators do not) that in


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translating, we have to do not only with words taken singly, but with the shades, colours and outright changes of identity which they undergo in context and collocation. In Wu's Johannine Prologue, the Dao at the beginning of v. 1 might still be read as a 'Daoist' Dao; but before we have read to the end of the following line, it is clear we are no longer in the world of the Daodejing. A literal English version of Wu's translation of Jn 1.1-3 is: In the beginning was the Dao; [it was] with the Heavenly Lord. The Dao was the Heavenly Lord, was with him from the beginning. If not for the Dao, there would be no things; things come to be through the Dao. All that there is in heaven and on earth is completed with the help of the Dao. In this opening passage of the Gospel of John, we are told twice not only that the Dao 'was', but that it was already 'with' something or someone else. This would be strange in the Daodejing, which clearly posits the Dao as precedent to all else. A few examples from John CH. Wu's own translation:22 As the origin of heaven-and-earth, it is nameless ... (Ch. 1) ... the common ancestor of all, the father of things. (Ch. 4) Tao gave birth to One, One gave birth to Two, Two gave birth to Three, Three gave birth to all the myriad things. (Ch. 42) Reasoning along similar lines, James Moffatt, analysing the use of Logos in the original which has often simplistically been said to have a Stoic flavour, says: the sentence, in the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was theos, might have been written by a Stoic ... it was written by one acquainted with the writings of Herakleitus, though the un-Stoic sentence, and the Logos was with God, at once betrays a Jewish current.23 If we look at this passage in Wu's original manuscript ('A') version, the associations are still more eclectic: All things come to be through the Dao; apart from the Dao, not one thing exists. The mere five characters of the second line in Chinese comprise two separate allusions to traditional Chinese texts, as it were 'baptizing them unto Christ'. Wu's text reads: Li Dao wu yi wu. In Zhong Yong 1.2, we read 'One cannot stand apart (li) from the Way {Dao) even for a moment; if something can be stood apart from, it is not the Way.' For traditional

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readers of the Zhong Yong, the meaning of this passage is ethical and normative. Legge translates Dao at its first occurrence as 'the path of duty' with italics, implying that the ethical reading is not inherent in the word Dao itself. Here, Wu transplants the phrase into an ontic context. Wu yi wu (not one thing exists) immediately evokes associations with the well-known phrase ben lai wu yi wu (from the beginning not one thing exists) from the Platform Sutra by Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch of Zen Buddhism. Huineng denied the existence of 'things' to assert that it was useless to try to 'dust off the mind through meditation: there was nothing to 'clean', since 'dust' itself did not exist independently of the mind which constituted it. Wu gives the phrase a dramatically Christian twist: 'things' do exist, but never apart from the creative Word.

5. Pedigree of a prologue But if the heritage of Chinese philosophy seems to have been one source of Wu's vocabulary, another was the fund of precedents already laid down by former translators. I have compared Wu's version of the Johannine prologue with the equivalent passage in prominent earlier wenyan translations both Protestant and Catholic. Of the latter, based on detailed similarities in phrasing, I believe Wu can almost certainly be shown to have consulted Dias, Li Wenyu and Ma Xiangbo. Of Protestant versions, I believe the Delegates' Bible, the CUV and Schereschewsky to be relevant.24 In what follows, I shall give examples of several passages from the prologue and what comparison reveals in the way of affinities with other translations. Wu's manuscript contains two very different versions of the prologue, and both differ strikingly from the version ultimately published in book form. I will call the successive manuscript versions 'A' and 'B'; ' C is the definitive text as published. All three versions are in rhymed verse - a tour de force which, among all versions under consideration here, is a unique feature of Wu's. B is clearly later than A, written after the decision to change the five-syllable-per-line metre of A to a four-syllable rhythm, the form which is also maintained in C. The text of B also incorporates a number of changes which were already noted in the margin of A. Occasionally I have chosen to use a verb form other than the one to which Western readers are perhaps accustomed. In Chinese texts, the tense or mood of a verb must often be taken or guessed from the context - indeed, sometimes 'imputed to' the context where native speakers do not feel definiteness in this regard to be necessary. Are we to say that all things came to be, or come to be, through the Logos/Dao? Jn 1.1-3 A In the beginning there was already the/a Dao; the Dao was together with the Heavenly Lord.


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This Dao was the Heavenly Lord, [and was] together with him from the beginning. All things come to be through the Dao; apart from the Dao, not one thing exists. B In the beginning was the Dao; the Dao was together with the Lord. The Dao was the Heavenly Lord, was together with him from the beginning. Things come to be through the Dao; apart from the Dao, there are no things. Whatever has been given creation has been brought out by means of the Dao. C In the beginning was the Dao; [it was] with the Heavenly Lord. The Dao was the Heavenly Lord, was with him from the beginning. If not for the Dao, there would be no things; things come to be through the Dao. All that there is in heaven and on earth is completed with the help of the Dao. When we say 'In the beginning was the Word', we are quoting the King James Bible (and via it, the earlier Wyclif). In capitalizing 'Word', we are inferring that this line refers to more than just an ordinary word of ordinary language. This 'Word' is the Logos - a concept so complicated that some translators have refused to translate it at all, maintaining it in transcription instead. The great twentieth-century translator James Moffatt made of this line: 'The Logos existed in the very beginning .. / The Latin Vulgate translates Logos as verbum, but Erasmus in his famous, or notorious, early sixteenth-century Latin New Testament made it sermo instead: a word which has been translated as everything from 'word' to 'conversation' to 'discourse'. In short, this line, crucially important to theology, has always been a focus of argument as to just what the 'original' means. As we have seen, by John C.H. Wu's time, in the Protestant world Dao had long since established itself as the standard term for Logos in Jn 1.1. It was adopted by the Delegates' version of the 1850s, which in turn was a primary influence on subsequent Protestant translations in both the wenyan and 'vernacular' styles. Via the (vernacular) Union Bible of 1919, unquestionably the most widely read twentieth-century Chinese version, it has continued in familiarity down to the present day. Ma Xiangbo in his 1937 Catholic version shows an interesting compromise. He duly maintains the traditional Catholic transcription Wuerpeng but adds a preceding zhen yan, 'the true word', in apposition to it. In subsequent verses he dispenses with Wuerpeng, using zhen yan

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instead. Ma's translation was completed just at an important timeboundary in the history of Catholic terminology in China. In 1936 a number of the old Ibero-Chinese transcriptions from Latin finally disappeared from the official prayer-books and were replaced by more intelligible Chinese versions.25 Perhaps Ma was conscious that his translation was appearing in a time of discussion and transition, and wanted his text to be acceptable to readers from various backgrounds. One feature of Wu's version which ranges him with the Union Wenli and against most others is his way of saying the Word 'was with God'. Many of the early versions, including Dias, translate 'was with' as zai, which in Chinese means 'to be at, in, or present'. In other words, it corresponds to English 'is' in a sentence like 'the book is on the table', but definitely not when 'is' is used as a copula. A subtle feature is that at times zai means not so much a physical location as the fact of depending on or being on account of/being attributable to. There is however another word, xie, which can be used as a verb to mean 'to accompany, to be together with'. Of the versions I have seen, Morrison 1813 is the earliest to use this. Undoubtedly it is his usage which is echoed more than a century later in the Union Wenli's and Wu's use of the same term. In Wu's A and B versions the verb is ju {H, again meaning 'to accompany', but it is preceded by yu, a preposition meaning 'with', followed by 'Heavenly Lord' or 'Lord': yu Tianzhu ju P*;?ciii{fl or yu Zhu ju. In the C version, the verb changes to xie fit but the construction is maintained: yu Tianzhu xie. This yu ... xie construction is very suggestive of the traditional Chinese version of the Ave Maria, in which 'the Lord is with thee' is rendered Zhu yu er xie yan.


A famous locus of controversy is the linkage, if any, between this and the previous verse. Historically there are alternate ways, both well attested, of punctuating and reading quodfactum est '[that] which was/has been made'. What I will call the one-sentence reading connects these words in a single sentence with the foregoing, giving ... and without Him, nothing was made which was made. In Him was life ...

The two-sentence reading takes these words as the beginning of a new thought, thus: ... and without Him, nothing was made. [That] which was made in Him was life ... A variant of the two-sentence reading, upheld in such a venerable source as Ruusbroec, finds in this passage a specific mystical implication by taking 'life in Him' as prior to 'was made': ... and without Him, nothing has been made. [That] which has been made was [already] life in Him ... It is unmistakably such a reading which underlies Dias's version:


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All that which/those who have received creation and have been, from of old, with Him, are one life. EHas, in an interlinear note, amplifies this: 'This is basically to say that the things [tvu], irrespective of their intelligence or unintelligence, before being created, were all alive/all a life. At that time all were of a/the limitless living body of the Divine Son having the ability to create all things .. .' Wu's translation does not explicitly go as far as this, but it has something of the same flavour. In all three of his successive versions, he renders '[life] was in' with yun Hi, a many-faceted word which carries the sense of holding something in store. In Chinese Buddhist texts, this is a term commonly used for the skandhas, the 'heaps' or 'aggregates', in Conze's term 'constituents of the personality',26 which carry over from one incarnation to the next and in that sense hold in store the latent future. (In Jn 1.16, Wu uses yun again to translate Christ's 'fullness'.) Again I am not aware of any other translation that uses this word. Practically all have zai, which we have already encountered in connection with Jn 1.1. Jn 1.10-11 Wu's handling of w . 10-11 reveals his affinity with (and I believe conscious indebtedness to) the Catholic translators of an earlier day. Where the King James version has, 'and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not' Wu's A version has suo zao for 'was made by' and shi for 'knew'. Both of these are identical to Li Wenyu's phrasing. Both A and B have shi in the collocation mo zhi shi, which is very close to Dias's mo zhi zhi. The C version is rather different to both A and B. The change was probably necessitated by the metrical expansion of w . 10-11 from only two couplets in all (as in A and B) to three, with the attendant need to find new, and different, rhyme words. Verse 11 in particular was perhaps rather hastily rhymed in the A and B draft versions, ending on an isolated sound which did not rhyme with either the preceding or the following couplet. This aesthetic defect is repaired in the slightly lengthened text of C. In 'he came unto his own, and his own received him not', Wu's final version uses the word li S5 (literally 'to arrive', but often used in the context of an official arriving at a place with whose affairs he is charged): a striking parallel with both Li Wenyu and Ma Xiangbo. Wu's A version, in translating 'his', uses the very old possessive pronoun jue twice, as does Dias (the Harmony and Morrison both use it once). This word has a venerable, 'classical' sound. In his series of historical grammars treating successive stages of the Chinese language, W.A.C.H. Dobson considers this word to belong to one of the earliest attested levels of Chinese writing, which he calls early archaic Chinese; he describes its later use in what many of us would call 'classical Chinese' as 'sporadic' and 'archaistic'.27

Perspectives on John C.H. Wu's Translation of the New Testament 201 Jn 1.12 This verse in the C version begins with na tft, echoing Li Wenyu. 'His name' emerges as jue ming, as it does in Dias and in the Harmony and Morrison. Jn 1.14 A This Dao took bodily form, dwelt among us humans. We contemplated his glory, worthy to be called the Father's only child. Wondrous grace and truth abundantly filled his physical presence. B The Dao incarnated as a human being, became our neighbour. We personally observed him: of supreme beauty, the only divine child, the incomparable glory. Wondrous grace and the deepest meaning filled to overflowing his physical presence. The Dao incarnated as a human being, dwelt in our midst. We personally observed him: the countenance of supreme virtue, the only divine child, the incomparable glory. Wondrous grace and the deepest meaning filled to overflowing his physical presence. We have now arrived at the linguistic and theological crux of the whole prologue - the Incarnation. Traditionally, in English the Word 'was made flesh'. In this context, 'flesh' stands for the entire embodied human state. But in other New Testament contexts, 'flesh' is set off as only one part of the human experience, which may be positively in opposition to 'spirit'. How is a translator to capture both the concreteness and the allinclusiveness of Jesus' incarnation? Dias treated this line with great economy, saying simply that Wuerpeng yi jiang wei ren '[has] come down to be a human being'. I have not been able to determine how his Catholic successor in the Harmony handled it, as the Harmony breaks off John's prologue after v. 13.28 But Morrison, who very often adopts the Harmony's phrasing, has bian wei rou, which in unadorned translation would be 'changed to meat'. Li Wenyu has jiangsheng wei ren, very literally 'came down into life as a


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human being', but in jiangsheng as actually in common use, the sense of 'coming down' is often weakened or implicit, as when it simply means (e.g. of a baby) 'to be born'; on the other hand, it is often used for the birth of avatars. Ma Xiangbo departed strikingly from this Catholic precedent of using ren, saying instead cheng xinglnan, which very definitely has a 'fleshly' or even a 'meaty' sound. Wu's original formulation in A, cheng xingti, is a somewhat less crass-sounding modification of Ma's phrase. A xingti can refer to a person's bodily 'figure' or 'build', but also to the 'form' of an impersonal object like a building. It does not carry the sense of personality. {Xingti, a familiar word in Neo-Confucian texts, is also the word Wu uses for 'body' in 1 Thess. 5.23, in the familiar Pauline trio of spirit, soul and body.) One of Wu's marginal notes at this point shows that he was already aware of the solution that he chose for B and maintained in C: renshen. Among Protestant translators, Morrison as we have seen made the 'flesh' just literally rou. Medhurst/Giitzlaff said dao cheng roushen, 'the Dao/Word became a flesh/physical body'. The later Delegates and Union Wenli both used dao cheng renshen, which in my view sounds less definitely physical as well as less specifically Christian. This phrase was also John C.H. Wu's choice in his B and C versions. Superficially, ren (human) plus shen (body) might seem to mean just 'human body'. But in Chinese, often shen is not so much Ixxiy' as 'self, sometimes also 'lifetime' or 'life'. Renshen is also a very common Buddhist term meaning a lifetime, literally an in-carn-ation, in human form. Accordingly, I have chosen the translation 'the Dao incarnated as a human being'. And what did the witnesses say of Jesus? In C, the 'glory' (A) or T>eauty' (B) has become the 'countenance of supreme virtue'. It looks almost like a catechistically motivated adjustment. Yet this 'supreme virtue' also carries Confucianist and Buddhist overtones. The character hong in kongde is the same as the family name of Confucius. In many combinations it means simply 'Confucianist' or 'of Confucius', so that kongde would at least subliminally sound like 'the virtues of a Confucius'. But the Buddhists also sometimes explain this character hong as equivalent to another hong which means Emptiness or sunyata. A subtle but compelling flash of similarity to the earlier Catholics is in the last two words of C: jue gong 'his physical presence'. This does not correspond directly with any single explicit element in the English (or Latin or Greek) versions, but goes back to Wu's original paraphrase in the A text. As we have already seen in connection with w . 10-11 above, jue 'his' was an archaic-sounding pronoun favoured by Dias. For 'his glory', Dias has jue rongguang. This is shortened to jue rong in Li Wenyu, and also in Wu's A version. In the B and C versions with their changed metric structure, the 'glory' no longer is preceded by a possessive pronoun, but the verse ends with jue gong, not literally echoing Dias but maintaining the characteristic jue. All in all, this 14th verse in Wu's C version is a remarkable creative distillate from illustrious precedents. In its opening phrases about the Incarnation and the Iseholding' of the 'glory', Wu echoes the nineteenth-century Protestant Delegates and Union Wenli. In his use of jue, he recalls Dias by way of Li Wenyu.

Perspectives on John CM. Wu's Translation of the New Testament 203

In all three versions, I have translated the last word, gong, as 'physical presence'. Gong is literally either 'body' or 'self; it occurs adverbially in many collocations where it means 'in person'. To my sense, Wu's use of this term is one more indication that in his translation he was trying as much as possible to make the incarnate Dao a human (and not just intratrinitarian) person. The latter versions project a strong feeling of the Gospel's writer, its readers, and the Dao being together as one community. The Dao is more than just a principle, more than just an assumed metaphysical backdrop: it is a person. This conclusion is supported by the remarkable evidence of Wu's handling of Jn 14.6. Where Jesus there says 'I am the way and the truth and the life', Wu does not, as most Western sinologists would have done, use Dao as his term for 'way'! (Was he unaware of, or did he consciously disagree with, Arthur Waley's 1934 statement that specifically in this line, Dao and 'way' could be equivalent?29) Wu's early (A) version of this line did contain Dao, but as the translation of 'truth'. Later it disappeared and the 'truth' was translated, as in the prologue, zhendi (deepest meaning, true import). Wu's word for 'way' in Jn 14.6 was and remained tu (way, road, route). The line as published means something like I am the route, am the true meaning, am life. In other words, the Dao/Word/Logos is not just one of three possible predicate nominatives for 'I'; it is itself the speaking T.

6. A text in changing context The above passages give us some idea as to where John C.H. Wu stands in the gallery of Chinese Bible translators, especially of translators into ivenyan, whether Catholic or Protestant. Why did Wu choose to translate into ivenyan when he did? In practical terms, he first began translating a few psalms out of personal interest; subsequently his Psalms attracted the attention of President Chiang Kai-shek and his wife; and given the Chiangs' liking for Wu's 'classical' translation style as seen in the Psalms, the decision would have been obvious to produce the subsequent New Testament version in a comparably classical mode. The alternative - to produce yet another translation in vernacular or 'spoken Mandarin' - must have seemed unattractive for many reasons. For one thing, it was already a crowded field. Of the assortment of Protestant vernacular versions which had been made since the nineteenth century, one, the CUV became so well known that it has sometimes been said to have attained almost a 'King James effect' in being considered especially authoritative. Since 1922 there had also existed a full Catholic vernacular translation of the New Testament by the Jesuit Xiao Jingshan. It saw many printings and by the time of Wu's conversion was a well-established text in the Catholic world. As we have seen, when Wu started working on his translation the time was ripe for a new translation which while specifically Catholic would be free from what Brunner has called the 'deformity' of key terms in the


Lloyd Haft

Chinese text being presented in cumbersome and mystifying transcriptions from Latin.30 For Wu this meant, for example, that the Johannine Logos would be no longer Wuerpeng but Dao. The effect of this shift was to give Wu's translation a Catholic but not a parochial sound, while the many likenesses between his and the Protestants' terminology are evidence that he was not straining to avoid parallels. Nor did Wu seek to conceal what he felt to be legitimate echoes of older Chinese philosophy, and wenyan was the natural idiom in which to allude to these. Some of these likenesses were more prominent in the original draft than in the later approved version, but the text as published still contains remarkable instances. I believe this aspect of Wu's work is especially deserving of further study at the present time when Neo-Confucianist or 'New Confucian' authors are seeking to demonstrate theological components in Confucian thought. Even a term like 'Confucian theology' is used - at times, one feels, with the implication that Christian theology has new things to learn from Confucian studies but not the other way around. In a time when scholars are seeking to approach books like the Zhang Yong in isolation from their historical context, reading them for a more timeless message, it may be appropriate to re-examine Wu's text for its thought-provoking inclusiveness of intellectual elements from widely separate periods, even perhaps from ostensibly separate cultures. Finally, in translating into wenyan Wu was simply doing what he did especially well, and what few others could have done so well. His translation is not analytical but synthetic: choosing evocation over philological exactness, it is in the nature of a personal statement by a translator for whom the New Testament was not an endpoint but a creative further development of various strands in his own development. Though it may indeed not have equalled the broad usefulness of translations which do not make such heavy demands upon the educational level of their readership, surely there is still a place for this creatively wrought translation which invites the reader to probe meditatively into the implications and overtones of passage after passage.

Notes 1. The term Xinjing (New Scripture) for the New Testament has often been used by Catholic translators. 2. For biographical information, see Howard L. Boorman (ed.), Biographical Dictionary of Republican China, Vol. 3 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), pp. 419-22; Matthias Christian, Rechtsphilosophie zwischen Ost und West: Line vergleichende Analyse der fruhen rechtsphihsophischen Gedanken von John CM. Wu (Vienna: Springer, 1988); and John

C.H. Wu's autobiography Beyond East and West (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1951). Parts of this paper were originally presented in Lloyd Haft, 'John C.H. Wu en de Vleesgeworden Dao van Johannes', in Govert Buijs (ed.), Sander Griffioen: Een weg gaan (Budel: Uitgeverij DAMON, 2006), pp. 105-13. I would like to thank Wilt Idema, B.J. Mansvelt Beck, Nicolas Standaert and Koos Kuiper for their helpful comments.

Perspectives on John CM. Wu's Translation of the New Testament 205 3. For background and references, see Francis K.H. So, *Wu Ching-hsiung's Chinese Translation of Images of the Most High in the Psalms', in Irene Eber et al. (eds), Bible in Modern China: The Literary and Intellectual Impact (Nettetal: Steyler, 1999), pp. 321-49. 4. I would like to thank Ye Jingmei, who tried for years unsuccessfully to find me a copy of the commercial edition of Wu's New Testament and then, in early 2006, procured for me this even rarer version. 5. James Legge, The Chinese Classics, 7 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893; 2nd rev. edn), Vol. 1, p. 397. 6. F.S. Couvreur SJ, Les quatre Limes (Sien Hsien: Imprimerie de la mission catholique, 1930; 3rd edn), p. 39. 7. S. Couvreur, Li Ki (Ho Kien Fou: Imprimerie de la mission catholique, 1899), Vol. 2, pp. 440-1. 8. F.S. Couvreur SJ, Dictionnaire classique de la langue chinoise (Taipei: Kuangchi Press, 1933), p. 1035. 9. Li Gi, Das Buch der Sitte; translated with commentary by Richard Wilhelm. (Cologne: Eugen Diederichs, 1958), p. 32. 10. Chuang-tzu, The Seven Inner Chapters and other Writings from the Book Chuang-tzu, trans. A.C. Graham (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1981), p. 98. 11. Chuang Tzu, Basic Writings, trans. Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1964), p. 94. 12. Dschuang Dsi, Das wahre Buch vom Sudlichen Blutenland; translated with commentary by Richard Wilhelm. (Cologne: Eugen Diederichs, 1969), p. 99. 13. The idea that one or the other sense need be considered more Irasic' is dubious. In our own language there might not seem to be any one word which equally evokes both these possibilities, but 'realize' comes close, though in actual contexts it is hard to imagine it not seeming to be either one or the other. 14. Dias's name also appears as 'Manoel Diaz', etc. Though Dias did not produce a full New Testament translation, his gospel readings were reprinted at various times right up into the twentieth century; they were a major influence upon later translators including, as we shall shortly see, John C.H. Wu. 15. See Jost Zetzsche, 'Gutzlaff's Bedeutung fiir die protestantischen Bibelubersetzungen ins Chinesische', in Thoralf Klein and Reinhard Zdllner (eds), Karl Gutzlaff (1803-1851) und das Christentum in Ostasien (Nettetal: Steyler, n.d.), pp. 155-71, on the use of Dao for Logos, esp. pp. 167-9. 16. I have examined both in the library of the Sinological Institute, Leiden University. 17. Jost Zetzsche, 'Terminologische Einfliisse von Denksystemen nichtchristlichen Ursprungs auf das chinesische christliche Vokabular', China Heute, xiv (1995), 2. 78: 51. 18. This and following quotes from Wu's prose collection, Zhexue yu wenhua [Philosophy and Culture] (Taipei, San Min shuju, 2006), pp. 64, 84. 19. My translation of the word cheng here is based on the French 'perfection innesf used by S. Couvreur on p. 856 of his famous Chinese-French dictionary in citing this Zhong Yong passage as an example. I am thoroughly opposed to the translation 'sincerity' which one often sees. As an alternative I suggest 'full attunement'. 20. Quoted and discussed in The Philosophy of Human Nature by Chu Hsi, trans, from the Chinese, with notes, by J. Percy Bruce (London: Probsthain, 1922), p. 19. 21. Translation mine. Passage quoted from the Knox version. 22. Lao Tzu, Tao Teh Ching, trans. John C.H. Wu. The translation was republished in 2005 by Shambhala. All citations are from this Shambhala edition. The translation dates from after Wu's conversion to Catholicism. 23. James Moffatt, An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T&T. Clark, 1912; 2nd edn), p. 525. 24. It is difficult to be sure about the dating of these early Bible versions; the literature often gives conflicting dates for the same work. In listing the versions I have consulted, I first


25. 26. 27. 28.

29. 30.

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give what I believe to be the approximate date of first publication of each item, followed by the date of the version I have been able to use. It should be borne in mind that the later reprint versions (which I have consulted) may contain slight revisions with respect to the original publications. For Dias I have used the text given in the reprint series Tianzhujiao dongchuan wenxian sanbian (Taipei, 1972). I believe the original to date from within a couple of years before or after 1640. For Ii Wenyu (1897/1926), a copy in the Catholic University of Leuven library; the text includes information stating this to be the fourth printing. For Ma Xiangbo, an edition in the library of Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei; the ecclesiastical approbation is dated 1937 and the publication 1949. The Delegates' Bible (1852/1918) is from the Leiden University library; the 'Wenli New Testament, Union Version' (1919/1925), in my own possession. For Schereschewsky (1910/2005) I have used the magnificent reprint by St John's University in Taipei (thanks to Dr Peter Yang, President of St John's University). Paul Brunner SJ, VEuchologe de la mission de Chine (Miinsten Aschendorffeche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1964), p. 22. Edward Conze, Buddhist Thought in India (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1967), p. 107. W.A.C.H. Dobson, hate Archaic Chinese (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1959), p. 27. I have not yet been able to study the entire Harmony, and do not know whether Jn 1.14 is re-inserted at some other point in the text Meanwhile I have been informed by Dr A. C. Dudink of the Catholic University of Leuven that there is in Rome a hill manuscript translation of the gospels, very probably by J. Basset, the putative author of the Harmony, in which this phrase reads cheng wei rou: 'became meat/flesh'. Arthur Waley, The Way and Its Power: A Study of the Too Te Ching and Its Place in Chinese Thought (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1934), pp. 30-1. Brunner, VEuchologe, p. 22.


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Publishing 2006). Aitchison, William, Shengjing lunltie MMW$& [Introduction to Bible Study] (Peking: Meihua, American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions Press, 1870). Amity News Service, 'Church Statistics', page.php?page=1230 (accessed 24 August 2006).

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[Biography of Father Lei Yongming], trans. Han Chengliang & (Taipei: SBF, 1986). Bai Xiaoyun filtBi (ed.), Shengjing yuhui cidian MMMIkMlfc [A Biblical Dictionary of Words] (Beijing: Zhongyang Bianyi). Bao Luo M , 'Wenhua yu shijing JtftUfflK' [Culture and Hermeneutics], Ganlu, 39-40; cont. Ganlu, 2.40-43 (2005), Ganlu, 4.45 (2004): 35-6. Barnett, Suzanne, and John K. Fairbank (eds), Christianity in China: Early Protestant Missionary Writings (Cambridge, MA: Council on East

Asia Studies, Harvard University, 1985). Barth, Karl, 'The Preface to the Second Edition' and 'The Preface to the Third Edition', The Epistle to the Romans, trans. Edwyn C. Hoskyns (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1933). Batalden, Stephen, Kathleen Cann and John Dean (eds), Sowing the Word: The Cultural Impact of the British and Foreign Bible Society 1804-2004

(Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2004). Bei Cun 4k£f, 'Bei Cun jian shu: rensheng shi du (yi)', j b t t M # : A£+ IS — [Bei Cun Recommends: Ten Readings in Human Life, I] Xinjing bao § ? M ^ [Beijing News], 21 July 2004.

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Moral Order in Late Imperial China (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991). Brother Yun with Paul Hattaway, The Heavenly Man (London: Monarch Books, 2002). Brownson, James, 'Seminar in Intercultural Hermeneutics/ unpubl. course syllabus, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, MI, 2005. Brace, J., Percy (trans.), The Philosophy of Human Nature by Chu Hsi (London: Probsthain, 1922). Brunner, Paul, S.J., L'Euchologe de la mission de Chine (Miinster: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1964). Buijs, Govert (ed.), Sander Griffioen: Een weg gaan (Budel: Uitgeverij DAMON, 2006). Cai Chun H # , Xinyue Daodu §i$3W L ^ ^ ± + mMW& [An Explanation of Western learning and the Decalogue], Shenxue luncong # ^ i & ^ 11 (1972): 153-4. Zhang Jiuxuan ^kfKiL (trans.), Shengjing houdian 3[jHH£jft [The Apocrypha] Zongjiao wenhua congshu [Religious Culture Series]; Beijing: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1999). Zhang Runsu, 'Zhang Zhijiang xiansheng ersan shi' WtWIW'- i^ZXL^c^E Z1H [Two or Three Notes on Mr Zhang Zhijiang], Tianfeng, 9 (1988). Zhang Shijiang 56±H, 'Dangdai Zhongguo jiaohui de Shengjing tuiguang yu fuchuan' ^j^^Wi^C^tfyMMM^^^W [The Promotion of the Bible and Evangelization in Contemporary China], Tripod, 27'.144 (2007). Zhang Xian *M*M, 'Dexing he fuyin' ^iifP^Nliif [Virtue and the Gospel], Jidujiao wenhua xuekan, 13 (2005).

Zhang Zai 3if!c, Zhang Zai ji 5StfeH [Collected Works of Zhang Zai] (repr., Guangdong: n.p., 1978). Zhang Zhichun H S # , 'Ai Qing yu shengjing' 3tWJS} [Ai Qing and the Bible], Yan'an Daxue Xuebao [Yan'an University Journal], 1 (1990): 37-44.



Zhang Zhijiang ?S^tE Zheng duo yizhu itit-^Jifr [The Story of my Conversion] (Shanghai: Christian Literature Society, 1937). Zhang Zhiyuan^^/Shengjiqijiazhigaishuo' < M ) S^flMtftift [The Bible and its Values] Hefei jiaoyu xueyuan xuebao [Journal for Hefei Normal College], 1 (1990): 63-70. Zhao Dunhua 3H&H (ed.), Jidujiao Zhexue Yiqian Wubainian 3H?ifc1§^ 1500 ^ [1500 Years of Christian philosophy] (Beijing: Renmin, 1994). Zhao Peilin £!$$#, Zhang Diao 3g&, Yin Yao t l (trans.), Shengjing djing SM}kM [The Apocrypha] (Changchun: Shidai wenyi, 1995). Zhao Zichen $LikM, 'Yesu wei Jidu - ping Wu Leichuan xiansheng zhi, Jidujiao yu Zhongguo wenhuaf W t f A S t t - i ¥ £ f f jl|5fc£:t r » * J^41lllx>ffcJ Qesus as Christ. A Critique of Mr Wu Leichuan's Christianity and Chinese Culture], Zhenli yu shengming MM^tkifo [Truth and Life] 10.7 (1936). , Tulinsideng daxue juxing erbai zhounian jinianli shou wo rongyu

shenxue boshi xuewei'


[I Received an Honoraryy Doctorate at the Princeton B ] f (^(^JB,), JB) () Tianfeng 79 (1947). University Bicentenary], , Sheng baoluo zhuan §H£$I# [The Life of Saint Paul] (Shanghai: Youth Association, 1947). , Zhao Zichen wenji [Works of T.C. Chao: Volumes I and II] (Beijing: The Commercial Press, 2003). Zhao Zichen, Wu Leichuan, Wu Yaozong 'Wo wei shenme yao du shengjing? Yong shenme fangfa du shengjing?' H^)lE> ^WJiU ^