Jump to content

A novel proof of sorts for God in ancient China


Mudcat

Recommended Posts

Check this out

I saw this in another forum and thought it might be interesting to see if you guys and gals had any feedback on the topic.

I have no experience with the Chinese language, but found it to be pretty neat.

Link to comment

Check this out

I saw this in another forum and thought it might be interesting to see if you guys and gals had any feedback on the topic.

I have no experience with the Chinese language, but found it to be pretty neat.

I am studying Chinese and I don't feel these are very impressive. There are many nuances in translating a given word. For instance, the character for "dust" that they use could also mean dirt or soil. In fact, I've been taught the main meaning is "soil". The character they translate as "blessing" I would translate as "wealthy". And so forth. So it seems fairly weak to take unusual translations of words and then compare them to bibilical concepts without an in depth study of the evolution of that Chinese word. For a detailed example of how you are supposed to examine the meaning and origin of words I would look at: Benjamin Wallacker "Two Concepts in Early Chinese Military Thought" Peter Lorge Ed. Warfare in China to 1600 Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, 2005, p. 235-240.

Thanks for the interesting post.

Link to comment

I am studying Chinese and I don't feel these are very impressive. There are many nuances in translating a given word. For instance, the character for "dust" that they use could also mean dirt or soil. In fact, I've been taught the main meaning is "soil". The character they translate as "blessing" I would translate as "wealthy". And so forth. So it seems fairly weak to take unusual translations of words and then compare them to bibilical concepts without an in depth study of the evolution of that Chinese word. For a detailed example of how you are supposed to examine the meaning and origin of words I would look at: Benjamin Wallacker "Two Concepts in Early Chinese Military Thought" Peter Lorge Ed. Warfare in China to 1600 Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, 2005, p. 235-240.

Thanks for the interesting post.

You're probably right.

The old Chinese God Shangdi is interesting though, and at least at face value, seems to resemble the Judeo Christian God. Not that I know much about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shangdi

Link to comment

Wow. That was kind of silly.

This person certainly takes some liberties with definitions of radicals (pieces of complex characters) to make the connections appear to work. Very creative, though.

Honestly, he/she first lost credibility with the assertion that humans were scattered 5000 years ago from Iraq. We know that Asians had already migrated to North America at least 7000 years before that, and people had been living in China for thousands of years already. What's more, the Jiahu script, which included rudimentary versions of several later Chinese characters, dates to around 8000 years ago.

Link to comment

This person certainly takes some liberties with definitions of radicals (pieces of complex characters) to make the connections appear to work. Very creative, though.

I thought it was creative myself. It is amazing where a person can go with a presupposition at heart. It makes me wonder if this isn't some sort of mission tool to give Biblical credibility... who knows.

I know squat about the Chinese language or its history but I am appreciate your post and Morgan's, as well.

Link to comment

I thought it was creative myself. It is amazing where a person can go with a presupposition at heart. It makes me wonder if this isn't some sort of mission tool to give Biblical credibility... who knows.

A decade or two back, I read this book - which is largely the same argument from an Adventist perspective.

I know squat about the Chinese language or its history but I am appreciate your post and Morgan's, as well.

One of my kids read/writes Chinese fluently. So if you have questions about any of the characters in that presentation, feel free to ask, and I'll ask her for her take on things.

Link to comment

Wow. That was kind of silly.

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

This person certainly takes some liberties with definitions of radicals (pieces of complex characters) to make the connections appear to work. Very creative, though.

Many languages compound words to generate meaning.

Homeschool is an obvious such compound.

A similar one in Danish is "hjemmesko". Hjemme = home. Sko = shoe. The term translates literally to "slippers".

Compounds are a common approach to assemble meanings.

Why would the Chinese language be any different?

Honestly, he/she first lost credibility with the assertion that humans were scattered 5000 years ago from Iraq. We know that Asians had already migrated to North America at least 7000 years before that, and people had been living in China for thousands of years already. What's more, the Jiahu script, which included rudimentary versions of several later Chinese characters, dates to around 8000 years ago.

Perhaps. The chronology is somewhat of a separate argument - which can be measured by other means.

But the premise that human belief traces back through may cultures is one worth considering - regardless of whether the claimed chronologies for those beliefs align with what we might read from other sources (secular or religious).

Link to comment

There are many nuances in translating a given word.

True.

For instance, the character for "dust" that they use could also mean dirt or soil. In fact, I've been taught the main meaning is "soil".

But...there are many nuances. What is the reasoning for dismissing "dust" as a viable nuance?

In your opinion, to what does the term "dust," as translated in the KJV, actually refer?

Link to comment

I thought it was a stretch at times. Other times, it seemed kind of plausible. I'm not terribly impressed, though. Interesting at least. I do like the God and man being part of the symbol for happiness.

Link to comment

I thought it was a stretch at times. Other times, it seemed kind of plausible. I'm not terribly impressed, though. Interesting at least. I do like the God and man being part of the symbol for happiness.

You make a great point. There are some interesting combinations of primitives that I would like to study. For example, the character for "slave" combines the primitives for "women" and "crotch". And the character for "undress" is "devil" and "flesh". As I advance in my knowledge of Chinese I would love to study some of these combinations and how they developed.

Link to comment

There are some obvious manipulations going on in the author's combinations.

Take the character for tell - ? - which they break down into three parts (mouth, ground, and the single stroke they say means alive, which I can't verify). Surely the meaning for ? could just as easily spring from the idea of using one's mouth while sitting on the ground, telling a story, as one would do around a camp fire. That seems much more likely than "breathing life into dust."

I don't know why they define ? as alive, upon which a lot of the constructions depend. I haven't seen it described as anything other than a curved stroke. An example of adding this stroke to a character is ? (husband), which becomes ? (lose) with the stroke added. That doesn't seem like adding life.

They also use ? (mouth) to mean man, and ? (field) as garden, because that fits the purpose better. Also, they say the radical ? (spirit) means god by itself (rather than ?). In its standalone form, this radical is written as ?, which means foundation, origin or show. (And I believe the god Shangdi is actually written as ??.)

Interestingly, one book I've read asserts that the character for god (?) sprang from the combination of a sacrificial altar (?) and the sun (?) with a "deity line" emanating from the center. This because the sun god is usually the first and most important deity that people worship.

Playing with radicals can be fun, but a character is not always the sum of the meanings of its parts.

Link to comment

So it seems fairly weak to take unusual translations of words and then compare them to bibilical concepts without an in depth study of the evolution of that Chinese word.

So true.

I do like the God and man being part of the symbol for happiness.

That's the problem with using odd or incorrect meanings for the pieces. The character referenced (?) actually breaks down to include spirit, one, mouth and field.

I have to say this is all very interesting, though. Thanks to Mudcat for finding and sharing it.

Link to comment

I thought it was a stretch at times. Other times, it seemed kind of plausible. I'm not terribly impressed, though. Interesting at least. I do like the God and man being part of the symbol for happiness.

I have a son who is currently working on his M.A. in Chinese, in Hong Kong, no less. I queried him on this and here is what he had to say:

"I took a few minutes to go through it. I'd say the evidence is not at all compelling, though there may be something to it. There were certainly some liberties taken in how they interpreted different parts of the characters and they ignored some things that would tend to better explain the makeup of some characters than what they presented. In some cases it is very likely a certain piece of character was chosen for phonological rather than semantic reasons.

It's somewhat misleading to think that Chinese characters are picture based. While a fair percentage of ancient characters were pictographic, many were not. Modern characters generally are formed of combinations of pieces with one part being phonemic and the other being semantic. Some characters are fusions of two semantic pieces, others from two phonological ones, and still others were out of date characters adopted for a spoken word because it's pronunciation matched irrespective of the origin of the character."

This is still clear as mud to me, but I would say, based upon Michael's evaluation, that this is not a slam dunk.

Glenn

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...