Thematic cluster: Understanding Chinese culture through key concepts
The historical development of jiao 教 in Chinese and its impact on the concept of ‘religion’ in English scholarship
This article contends that the traditional Chinese concept of jiao (teaching) has, through translation, greatly influenced the conceptual development of ‘religion’ in English-language scholarship. The article first demonstrates how the historical development of jiao in Chinese reveals numerous previously neglected patterns of Chinese spirituality. Using Friedrich Schleiermacher’s and Max Müller’s viewpoints, the article suggests the significance of translation in redefining a concept via the particularity of foreign culture. It then examines how James Legge, Jan Jakob Maria de Groot, William Edward Soothill, Bertrand Russell, and Ernest Richard Hughes and K. Hughes redefine religion in their translations of jiao. Highlighting jiao and religion as fluid categories via scholars’ translations and debates, my article challenges simplistic assumptions about Western supremacy in Sino-Western acculturation. It affirms the traditions and translations of jiao as powerful agents for shaping and enriching the meanings and phenomena of religion in the globalizing dynamics of human cultural interactions.
Keywords: jiao , history of Chinese traditions, Chinese spirituality, translation, conception of religion, Sino-Western acculturation
- Jiao 教: Rediscovering spiritual teachings in Chinese history
- The impact of jiao on the concept ‘religion’: A history of translation and conceptual development from Legge to the Hughes
- Redefining religion via “extensive contact with the foreign”: Theory of translation and comparative study of language and religion in the nineteenth century
- Conceptualizing and developing religion via translating jiao: The scholarship from Legge to the Hughes
Published online: 12 October 2018
Note on references to early and dynastic Chinese sources:
References to the texts below are drawn from the database of Chinese Text Project 中國哲學書電子化計劃. 2006–present. Available at: ctext.org/zh.
Baihu tongde lun
白虎通德論 [Debates at the White Tiger Pavilion] Accessed February 25, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/bai-hu-tong/zh?searchu=三教.
道德經. Accessed March 6, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/dao-de-jing/zh.
廣韻 [Broad Rimes]. Accessed February 25, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/guangyun/zh?searchu=敎&&page=3.
康熙字典 [Kangxi Dictionary]. Accessed February 25, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/kangxi-zidian/zh?searchu=𡥉.
禮記 [Book of Rites]. Accessed February 25, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/liji/jiao-te-sheng/zh?searchu=天垂象.
論語 [Analects]. Accessed February 25, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/analects/zh?searchu=子以四教.
尚書 [Book of Documents]. Accessed February 26, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/shang-shu/zh?searchu=五教.
說文解字 [On Characters]. Accessed February 25, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/shuo-wen-jie-zi/jiao-bu/zh?searchu=教.
太平御覽 [Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era]. Accessed February 25, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/text.pl?node=390381&if=gb.
孝經 [Classic of Filial Piety]. Accessed February 25, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/xiao-jing/zh.
荀子. Accessed February 26, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/xunzi/zh?searchu=天地者.
Yijing 易經 (Zhouyi 周易)
Book of Changes]. Accessed February 25, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/book-of-changes/guan/zh?searchu=觀天之神道，而四時不忒.
中論 [Balanced Discourses]. Accessed February 26, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/zhong-lun/zh?searchu=三教.
中庸 [Doctrine of the Mean], in the Liji [Book of Rites]. Accessed February 26, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/liji/zhong-yong/zh.
莊子. Accessed March 6, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/zhuangzi/seal-of-virtue-complete/zh
Reference to Kong Anguo 孔安國 and Kong Yingda 孔穎達 is drawn from their Shangshu zhengyi 尚書正義
[Shangshu, with Rectified Commentaries], collected in the Wuyingdian Shisanjing zhushu 武英殿十三經注疏 [Thirteen Classics, with Commentaries and Sub-commentaries: The Wuying Palace Hall Edition] 1739 Reprinted in 1871 Accessed February 25, 2017. Available at: ctext.org/library.pl?if=gb&file=80130&page=4.
Reference to the Beishi 北史
[Histories of the Northern Dynasties] by Li Dashi 李大師 and Li Yanshou 李延壽 (643–659) is drawn from 國學網 [Web of Chinese Studies] 2003 Accessed February 26, 2017. Available at: www.guoxue.com/shibu/24shi/beishi/beis_010.htm.
Barrett, Tim H. and Francesca Tarocco
Campany, Robert Ford
Chou, Po-kan 周伯戡
1998 〈佛教初傳流佈中國考〉 [“Investigating the Initial Spread of Buddhism in China”]. 國立台灣大學文史哲學報 [Humanitas Taiwanica] 471: 289–319. Available at: buddhism.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-NX012/nx84513.htm.
De Groot, Jan Jakob Maria
Elman, Benjamin A.
Huang Ko-wu 黃克武
Hughes, Ernest Richard and K. Hughes
Jin Xueqin 金学勤
1852 The Notions of the Chinese concerning God and Spirits with an Examination of the Defense of an Essay, on the Proper Rendering of the Words Elohim and Theos, into the Chinese Language, by William J. Boone, D.D., Missionary Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States to China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Register Office.
Maxey, Trent E.
Miao Runtian 苗润田 and Chen Yan 陈燕
Müller, F. Max
Mungello, David E.
Pfister, Lauren F.
Schmidt-Leukel, Perry and Joachim Gentz
St. André, James
2015 “Consequences of the Conflation of 孝 and Filial Piety in English.” Paper presented at The Translation of Key Terms in Traditional and Modern China, Taipei, January 2–3.
Van der Veer, Peter
Wright, Arthur F.
Yang Mei-Hui Mayfair 楊美惠
Young, W. John
2014 “William E. Soothill (1861–1935): Missionary and Sinologist.” Accessed February 28. Available at: www.methodistheritage.org.uk/missionary-history-young-william-soothill-2012.pdf
Yu, Anthony C.