An Inquiry into the proper mode of rendering the word God in translating the Sacred Scriptures into the Chinese Language.
MEDHURST Walter Henry (1848.)
£4500.00 [First Edition]
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First edition. Chinese characters interspersed throughout the text. 8vo. New paper boards, printed paper label on spine. Partly foxed and browned, overall still a good copy. Ex-libris of John Lawson on front free pastedown. [ii], 170pp. Shanghae, Printed at the Mission Press,
Medhurst (1796-1857) continued the theological/linguistic dispute where the Jesuits had left off: In the 1840s a controversy erupted amongst the Protestant missionaries as to the proper way to translate the term 'God' 'Theos' or 'Elohim' into Chinese. Was it going to be tian (Heaven), shen (Ghost or Spirit) or shangdi (Supreme Deity) or tiandi (Heavenly Deity)? Should the character for di (Deity) - which can be singular or plural and includes higher and lesser gods - be used at all? Furthermore tian (heaven) was often used synonymously with shangdi (Supreme Deity). Medhurst traces the development of the terms in Classical Chinese literature (from the Book of Odes to Confucianism and Daoism, as well as definitions in Chinese dictionaries) to the present day (when Morrison and Milne used shen or combinations with shen) to analyse the linguistic and cultural conundrums and finally comes down in favour of tiandi (Heavenly Deity). "Had the Chinese not been in the habit of exalting their departed progenitors and ancient sages to the ranks of gods, the word Te (di) alone, (as defined in the Imperial dictionary to be one of the names of Heaven or the Divinity, and the names of various spiritual beings the object of spiritual worship) would have been sufficiently distinct; but seeing that they have adopted this practice, and some might be led to confound these latter with the deified emperors and sages, the use of the compound phrase T'hëen te (tiandi)... will remove every obscurity and make the term definite and unmistakeable." (p. 167). Lust 956. Extremely rare.
Stock Code: 228014