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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Anaphors in Chinese Syntax and Morphology

Vol. 22 No. 1   6/1992    


Chu Hsi’s View on the Authenticity of the “Ancient Script” Portion of the Book of Documents


Liu Jen Peng 









Key words



It is generally held that Chu Hsi was the originator of the doubt on the authenticity of the “ancient script” portion of the Book of Documents. However, this claim was entrenched as truth as a result of the repetition of an error made by Wu Ch’eng (1249-1333). Wu misinterpreted Chu Hsi’s statements on the “ancient script” portion out of context and read his own suspicion into Chu’s sentences. In this paper, I am going to prove that even though Chu did sense some stylistic problems of the Book of Documents as a text, he felt the “modern script” was difficult to read while the “ancient script” was rather easy to follow, but he did not thereby question the authenticity of the “ancient script” portion. Moreover, his uncertainty regarding the Book of Documents was not confined to the “ancient script” portion and was in fact expressed as a concern more for the “modern script” than for the “ancient script” portion because of the particular difficulty of the language used in the “modern script” portion. For this reason, he emphasized the value of the “ancient script” portion and counseled his students to focus on passages with “clear meaning” and to “hold” them “closely in one’s self for experiential savoring”. The two terms, “smooth and easy” (p’ing-i) and “difficult and harsh” (chien-se), are totally irrelevant to forgery detection. Furthermore, I will expound it was impossible for Chu Hsi’s fellow scholars and disciples did not take his perplexity about the stylistic problems to be an indication of Chu Hsi as a doubter of the “ancient script” portion of the Book of Documents.



Author: Ting-chi Tang
Genre: Article
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