Resource: Two Great Books on the Textual History of the Hebrew Bible

For those interested in the textual history of the Hebrew Bible, I would recommend these two great books, from which I learn a great deal:

1. Ernst Würthwein and Alexander Achilles Fischer, The Text of the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Biblia Hebraica (3rd ed.; trans. Erroll F. Rhodes; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans: 2014). 20959398

This is an awesome introduction to the extant textual witnesses of the Hebrew Bible, including the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Samaritan Pentateuch, etc.). The book, which is a revised expansion on Würthwein’s fifth edition published in 1988, gives a clear and systematic explanation of the differences among these textual witnesses, and thus stresses the importance of textual criticism to reconstruct the historical development of the Hebrew Bible. As the author(s) write: “Textual criticism is the doorway to exegesis, and there is no back door. It is all too rarely observed that neither the church nor scholarship possesses a single biblical text, but only a copy that has been transmitted through a particular historical tradition. As a consequence the text not only provides the basis for interpretation, but the text itself is subject to historical study” (p.157).


2. Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (2nd rev. ed.; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001).


The framework and a lot of ideas in the foregoing book are also reflected in this monograph, which was first published in Hebrew in 1989 and has become like the “Bible” in the field of textual criticism. Currently, I only have the second revised edition. This monograph contains much more concrete and detailed background information about various manuscripts and translations of the Hebrew Bible. Particularly useful is chapter 3, which features different scholarly approaches to grapple with the textual variants. In the rest of the book, the author then makes use of concrete biblical examples to surmise and explain how different types of textual variants came about. Throughout the book, the author has demonstrated his encyclopaedic knowledge of biblical texts. The content of the book is dense and requires careful reading, but the outcome of learning this book would be rewarding.

Presentation: “The Dynamic Textual History of the Hebrew Bible” at Fudan University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China


Photo Credit:

I was overjoyed to receive an invitation to give a small presentation at the Department of History at Fudan University in Shanghai! I spoke on the “Dynamic Textual History of the Hebrew Bible” (《希伯来圣经》的文本流传与历史变迁) on 08.05.2018.

The first part of the presentation was an introduction to the medieval manuscripts of the Masoretic Text (group) and some late antique manuscripts of the Septuagint. The second part of the presentation traced back to the even earlier biblical manuscripts uncovered around the Dead Sea. I used some examples to illustrate how the Proto-Masoretic Text from the Dead Sea can contain features that differ and predate the medieval Masoretic manuscripts, and how some Hebrew manuscripts from the Dead Sea can reflect the Hebrew Vorlage of the Septuagint. The third and last part of the presentation explored the impact of the concept of Urtext on the scholarly analyses of the relationship among different text groups.

With the kind assistance of a friend, I managed to sharpen my arguments and deliver the whole presentation in Chinese Mandarin. This is my second visit to China and I do cherish the new-found friendship during this brief visit 🙂


My abstract in Chinese Mandarin!


One of my favourite parts in Shanghai: Yuyuan Garden. This is where you can find beautiful folk artworks and delicious food 😉


News: Chinese Tourists Arrested in Germany after Making Hitler Salutes in Front of Reichstag


Photo Credit: Bloomberg

Breaking News from Haaretz: “German police on Saturday arrested two Chinese tourists for making illegal “Heil Hitler” salutes in front of the historic Reichstag building that houses the German parliament.” Read more.

There are times when I am truly ashamed of the ignorance of some of my own people. They idealize and even idolize everything that has ever happened in Europe/Germany. Don’t they have any ideas of the sordidness embedded in history and culture of this continent/country? Here they are obsequiously emulating whatever the West did and do. Yes, I agree these people deserve punishments and further education.

Feel free to read my 2015 tour into Berlin’s past: “Berlin, a City That Looks Back at the Past to Reinvent Itself in the Present”

Presentation: Unravel “Gog of Magog” in Seoul, South Korea

The Society of Biblical Literature International Meeting will take place in Seoul, South Korea during July 3-7, 2016. I am so excited that I will deliver a paper entitled “Gog of Magog within and beyond Ezekiel 38-39” in this conference on July 4, 2016!


 Photos taken from Allez Savoir! 39 (2007): 34-41, here 37, the website of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, and Joseph Moo’s  “Gog & Magog War Coincide With the Coming 4 Blood Moon”

According to the French report “George W.Bush et le Code Ezéchiel” by Jocelyn Rochat in Allez Savoir! 39 (2007): 34-41, the former US president George W. Bush justified the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by saying that “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East.”

A Palestinian cartoonist Baha Boukhari painted a cartoon depicting the USA and UK as Yajuj and Majuj (Gog and Magog). According to the website of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, the cartoon appeared in the Arab newspaper Al-Ayyam on April 4, 2003.

One Singaporean Joseph Moo, following the footstep of Ronald Reagan and many others, published a series of slides entitled “Gog and Magog War Coincide With the Coming 4 Blood Moon” in May 2014 and claimed that Gog is Russia.

Who then is Gog? Come and discuss with me on July 4, 2016! 😉

Here is the abstract of my paper, which is also available on the SBL website:

The most extensive descriptions of Gog and Magog in the Hebrew Bible appear in Ezek 38-39. At various stages of their political career, both Reagan and Bush have linked Gog and Magog to the diplomatic and military enemies of the USA, identifying them either as the “communistic and atheistic” Russia or the “evil” Iraq (Halsell 1986, 45; Eichenwald 2012, 459). Biblical scholars, however, seek to contextualize Gog of Magog in the historical literary setting of the ancient Israelites. Galambush identifies Gog in Ezekiel as a cipher for Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian king, who acted as Judah’s oppressor in the sixth century BCE (Galambush 2006, 259-260). More generally, Klein concludes that Gog, along with its companions, is “eine Personifikation aller Feinde, die Israel im Buch Ezechiel gegenüberstehen” (Klein 2008, 131). Despite their differences in detail, these scholars, like Reagan and Bush, still work under a mindset of animosity, considering only the features of Judah’s enemies incorporated into the characteristics of Gog. This paper argues that Gog and his entourage display literary attributes previously assigned to not only Judah’s enemies, but also Judah’s political allies, especially Egypt. Internal evidence suggests that the Gog oracles are a much later insertion into the book of Ezekiel (Tooman 2011, 72-83). Therefore, Ezek 38-39 apparently draws from omnifarious biblical elements and themes, so that all foreign historical nations, whether friends or foes, are all combined and transformed into a metahistorical symbol of chaos or evil, standing in opposition to YHWH and the restored Israel in the eschatological era. Brief remarks will also be made as to how the literary process within Ezek 38-39 that relegates all foreign elements to one eschatological symbol of evil is mirrored in the Septuagint (Num 24:7; Deut 3:1, 13; 4:47; Esth 3:1; 9:24) and continues to evolve in early Jewish and Christian traditions.

The paper will be presented in the Prophets Section. Here are the details:

2:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: B104 – Theology Hall (Yonsei)Chwi-Woon Kim, Baylor University
The Negative Attitude toward Abraham and Israel (Isa 63:16) in light of the Literary Development of the Prayer in 63:7–64:11 (20 min)
Discussion (3 min)
Sehee Kim, Boston University
Parallels in Concept and Plot between Ezekiel 16 and Unfaithfulness (Sumerian Myth) (20 min)
Discussion (3 min)
Lydia Lee, North-West University (South Africa)
Gog of Magog within and beyond Ezekiel 38–39 (20 min)
Discussion (3 min)
Kristin Weingart, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
My Father, My Father! Chariot of Israel and Its Horsemen!? (2 Kgs 2:12; 13:14): Elisha’s or Elijah’s Title? (20 min)
I look foward to meeting you all there! 😀


Resource: Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity



Christianity has evolved beyond Acts of the Apostles, not only taking root in the West, but also spreading to the East. When I was a child, I often heard the adults cite the following saying from Hudson Taylor, the nineteenth century British Christian missionary to China (1832-1905): “If I had a thousand pounds, China should have it – if I had a thousand lives, China should have them. No! Not China, but Christ. Can we do too much for Him?” Having watched the Chinese film “the Soong Sisters” (see below***), I come to take an interest in Sun Yat-Sen, the founding father of the Republic of China (1866-1925). He was a Chinese, a Christian, and a supporter of the Zionist movement. Their lives show how multifaceted a Christian can be. Now, their stories are included in this informative “Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity” (in both English and Chinese: Friends doing Church History might be interested in writing a contribution to this online dictionary? (See the “Contribute” section in the webpage.)

Of course, we must also not forget the other side of the coin. Some of the imperialist Christians could have been quite unreasonable that they had suggested military interventions in the Republic of China, which prompted one Chinese Christian intellect Hu Xue Cheng (胡学诚) to write the following admonition on 30.12.1923: “We Chinese have not asked you to come here and to evangelize. Your arrivals are due to your passion for your faith. You are here because you have been called by Jesus to become his messengers, and to share the gospel with many peoples. Prior to your arrival, you should have already known the political instability, the material and cultural deficiencies in mainland China. Therefore, if you have decided to come to China, it should not be for complacency, but for sacrificing and sharing the burden. Under this kind of situation, there are only two actions you should take: 1. If you are not willing to share the burden or to sacrifice, buy yourself a ticket and sail back to your home country. Why do you wish to stay here and be tormented daily? 2. If you have the burden to share the gospel with us, please consider the sufferings experienced by the apostles and followers of Jesus throughout most of the church history. Please suffer with the Chinese.”
Note: This is my own English translation, excerpt taken from胡学诚,〈对西国传教士们说几句不客气话〉,《真理周刊》,第1卷,第40期(1923年12月13日),第4版;cited in李宜涯《圣坛前的创作:20年代基督教文学研究》(台北,2010),pp. 26-27.


基督教在使徒行传以后继续发展开来,不仅在西方世界扎根,也在东方世界传开了。当我还是小孩,就常常听大人们引用19世纪来中国传教的英国宣教士戴德生的 一句话:“假设我有千万英镑,中国可以全数支取;假设我有千条生命,绝不留下一条不给中国。不,不是中国,是基督。我们为祂做的怎么能嫌多呢?” 后来我看了电影《宋家皇朝》 (如下所示***),就开始对孙中山感兴趣。他是中国人,是基督徒,也是支持以色列复国的一位政治家。他们的生命告诉我,基督徒的生命可以很多面 化。现在,他们的生平事迹也被记载在这个不错的网站《华人基督教史人物辞典》(。对教会历史感兴趣的朋友,也许你们知道其他队华人福音事工有贡献的人物?你们也可以写下他们的故事,并投稿给这个网站的负责人(参见“投稿”页面)。

当 然,我们也不忘记人性的另一面。一些持有帝国主义的基督徒也曾经很不讲理的想要用军事行动来控制中华民国的局面。这让一位中国的基督徒知识分子胡学诚义愤 填膺地在1923年12月30日写下了以下几句话:“我们中国人并没有请你们来做佈道事业。你们的来,是因为你们对所信宗教的热忱,受耶稣的选召,作他的 使者,传福音给万民听的。你们未来以先,中国内地的不安宁,物质文明的不发达,是你们所已经知道的,所以你们来中国,并不是要得安逸;乃是要牺牲受苦。那 末,在这种情形之下,只有两种方法, 是你们所应采取的:一、你们若不原牺牲,不能受苦,最好买船票回国去享平安幸福,何必在此日夜担忧地受苦呢?二、你们既抱了宏愿,来传福音,这样请你看看教会的历史,福音的使者,是多半经历人间痛苦的。请你和中国人一同受苦。”
参见胡学诚,〈对西国传教士们说几句不客气话〉,《真理周刊》,第1卷,第40期(1923年12月13日),第4版;摘自李宜涯《圣坛前的创作:20年代基督教文学研究》(台北,2010), 第26至27页。

***The Hong Kong historical drama film “the Soong Sisters” (with English subtitles) was directed by Mabel Cheung and released in 1997. I am not saying that the film is historically accurate as a documentary, but it does provide another perspective to ponder upon early modern Chinese history.


Recipe: 手撕鸡



材料: 鸡大腿肉、姜黄粉、青葱、姜、辣椒油、生抽、老抽、蒜头、盐、芝麻

  1. 冷水下锅,青葱切段,姜切片,加点料酒,煮鸡大腿肉。
  2. 鸡腿煮沸去泡沫后,加姜黄粉入锅内,再煮到鸡不出血水即可 (用筷子捅鸡肉,能顺利插下,通常就表示鸡肉熟了)。
  3. 捞出鸡腿肉,手撕鸡腿肉,放在一个碗待用。
  4. 放多一点的辣椒油在炒锅里。你也可以自己炸辣椒油,但是我比较懒,所以就直接用李锦记的辣椒油了。
  5. 爆蒜,加生抽,老抽,蒜青,盐(各一汤匙)入内。
  6. 浇在备好的鸡丝上调味。
  7. 另炒香芝麻,撒在混和好的鸡丝上。



News: This Westerner Impresses Asians Like Me!

Speaking of an “entangled culture,” please allow me to cite one modern example.

Since July 2014, I have been an avid watcher of one South Korean talkshow called “Abnormal Summit.” In the show, 3 Korean MCs and 12 non-Koreans (G-12) gather together to discuss various serious (and not-so-serious) social issues from their own cultural perspectives. The non-Korean representatives come from Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Nepal, and the USA. Amazingly, they can all speak Korean! I really like this show, because the MCs seem to possess very high EQ, such that they manage to create many funny jokes and situations to alleviate some of the tensions arising from the most serious discussions about various cultural similarities and differences! 😀

Apparently, the show has successfully caught the international attention. A few months ago, the interviews with the German representative – Daniel Lindemann were published by several newspapers in his home country. A few lines from Lindemann stand out:

Ich sagte am Ende einer Sendung: “Manche Koreaner denken, dass Hitler ein starker Führer gewesen ist. Ich fände es aber gut, wenn solche Kommentare nicht mehr fallen würden. Weil er aus deutscher perspektive der schrecklichste Mensch gewesen ist, den man sich vorstellen kann.”

According to the news report, the Koreans were really impressed by what he had said:

Die Koreaner waren total beeinduckt davon, dass ein Deutscher sagt, sein land hat was falsch gemacht. Da habe ich gemerkt: Unsere Sendung ist bedeutsam.

Wow! nothing enthuses me more than seeing people overcome their national bigotry and bravely confront their own flaws. This is the kind of people I wish to learn from and emulate ~~


Zeit Online‘s interview with Lindemann can be found here. This is where the above quotes are taken from.

The more detailed FAZ‘s interview with Lindemann can be found here. From what I gathered, he has an Israeli father and a German mother, but then he has grown up only with his mother.

If you are interested in an English introduction to the talkshow, here is a helpful blog written by an American fan of the show. The picture below is taken from the cover page of this blog.

Nope, I don’t understand Korean. But I watch the episodes with Chinese subtitles 😉


The “G-12” in the “Abnormal Summit.” D. Lindemann is the second in the bottom row (counting from left to right)