E2studio did a recent interview [in Chinese Mandarin] with Prof. Archie Lee, a biblical scholar based at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Shangdong University, who has devoted his academic career to bringing the Hebrew Bible into dialogue with the Chinese literature. 有理想和行动力的人挺酷的！😎
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 🙂
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: http://www.bdcconline.net/en/). 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》（http://www.bdcconline.net/zh-hans/）。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。”
***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.
Very early in the morning,
on the National Day of the People’s Republic of China (01.10.2014),
I stood in front of the giant cross outside the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall and looked up at the date inscribed on the cross: 1937.12.13-1938.1. The date represented the first six weeks of the Japanese occupation of Nanjing.
Just beside the cross, there was this number “300 000” that glared defiantly at me under the sun. This is a rough estimation of the number of people killed over the six weeks by the Japanese Imperial Army. The people had been raped, decapitated and tortured just before they breathed their last. To be noted, most of these people were unarmed civilians.
I felt like my head was spinning.
After a short walk in the memorial hall, I escaped the crowd, found a quiet place and finished reading the Chinese translation of the book written by Iris Chang. It had a provocative title: “The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II”.
Published in 1997, this non-fiction quickly became the New York Times Bestseller. Chang was an American-born Chinese (or the so-called “ABC”) and could not read or understand most of the Chinese characters. Yet, this young and passionate journalist was willing to spend about three years to conduct interviews and research in Nanjing. The result was her sensational articulation of one of the darkest moments in human history. Her daring venture finally led her to join the effort to urge the Japanese government to show remorse and to apologize for the war crimes committed. In 2004, having suffered from a nervous breakdown, she committed suicide.
John Rabe was one impressive character who was mentioned in Chang’s book and whose life story in Nanjing was transformed into a film directed by Florian Gallenberger. I watched the film a while ago in Germany.
This Rabe was called the “Schindler of China”. Together with several other foreigners, Rabe established the International Safety Zone to provide refuge for the civilians during the Nanjing massacre, and managed to rescue about 200 000 Chinese from the brutal atrocities executed by the Japanese Imperial Army. Believe it or not, Rabe was one member of the Nazi Party! Naively, he even wrote to Hitler for help, since he thought that Hitler could and would stop the massacre. He was proven wrong. After his return to Germany in 1938, he was soon arrested by the Gestapos for wanting to reveal the atrocities in China to the public. Later in the post-war Germany, he was interrogated and treated as a war criminal. In 1950, he ended up dying in poverty.
Here you go, there was this American female intellect, and there was this German Nazi businessman.
And I wonder: Why were the much needed help, the calls for justice and the acts of courage coming from the most unexpected corners of life?
Then I think of one story that I have read before:
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)
My first visit to China turned out to be a surprise engagement party!!! It’s not just any engagement, it is our engagement~~ So now, I am officially engaged!! 😀