Influence, Translation, and Parallels: Selected Studies on the Bible in China

Article excerpt

Influence, Translation, and Parallels: Selected Studies on the Bible in China. By Marián Gálik. Nettetal, Ger.: Steyler Verlag, 2004. (Institut Monumenta Serica, Sankt Augustin.) Pp. 351. euro48.

Marián Gálik explains in the epilogue that the Bible was the first book he read, though he was unable to read it freely in his native Communist Czechoslovakia. Later he specialized in the modern literature of China, where he unexpectedly discovered that the Bible was very much alive.

This volume, separated into two parts, gathers sixteen essays, most of them previously published. Unavoidably, the reader will find some repetitions. The first part deals with translations of the Bible into Chinese, especially the Union Version (1919), and it discusses literary critics such as Zhu Weizhi (himself a Christian, discussing the status of the Bible as part of world literature and looking at the Bible, especially the Psalms and the Book of Lamentations, as a history of national suffering), Zhu Yunbin and Niu Yongmao (interested in the love poems of the Song of Songs), and Du Benhai (focusing on the creation story of Genesis).

Part 2 analyzes several creative works inspired by the Bible. In a 1942 novel Mao Dun tells the story of the revenge of Samson against the femme fatale Delilah, where the Philistines symbolize the Japanese; Xiang Peiliang in Annen (1926), a one-act play, turns the love of Amnon for Tamar into a sexual aberration; the writer Gu Cheng, personally obsessed by the death of Christ, writes the novel Ying'er, then becomes insane, killing his wife and hanging himself in 1993; Wang Duqing understands Jesus as an illegitimate son, displaying in a poem on the Virgin Mary (1925) some decadent tendencies; Wang Meng, minister of culture before Tiananmen, takes inspiration from the Apocalypse, describing in The Cross (1988) how the fourth animal, Christ's negative mirror, brings destruction into the world. …

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