Genesis of the Changes
We often cannot say exactly when, where, or how ancient texts were born. Some of the reasons are obvious. The further away in time, the more likely a work’s origins will be obscure: memories fade, original materials disappear, alternative versions surface. Often, not least in the case of many of the world’s most sacred texts, diverse materials have accumulated over long periods, edited by different hands under different historical conditions. This is true, to a greater or lesser degree, of the Hebrew Bible (known, with some rearrangement of material, as the Old Testament), the Qur’an, the Hindu Vedas, and the early recorded pronouncements of Siddhartha, the historic Buddha. It is also true of the Zhou Changes, which, when sanctioned as a foundational text by the Chinese state in 136 BCE, became the Classic of Changes, or Yijing.
According to a prominent Chinese legend, a great culture hero named Fuxi invented a set of eight three-line