From Chronicle to Canon

From Chronicle to Canon : The Hermeneutics of the Spring and Autumn According to Tung Chung-shu

By (author) Sarah A. Queen , Series edited by Patrick Hannan , Series edited by Denis Twitchett

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Every general account of the development of Chinese thought makes mention of Tung Chung-shu (c. 195-105 bce) as one of the pivotal philosophers of the Han. Professor Queen's accomplishment is a meticulous dissection of Tung Chung-shu's major work. The Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn Annals (Ch'un-ch'iu fan lu) established the first state-sponsored Confucian Canon, and created an ideal of the ruler and his role in government that was central to political discussion for two thousand years. The author has carefully scrutinised this text for authenticity, and has concluded that it was compiled several centuries after Tung's death, but was mostly compiled from Tung's authentic writings. By historicising this important text, Queen allows a new view of Tung's relation to the political and doctrinal discourses of his day, and also addresses the role of scriptures in Confucian spirituality.

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  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 162.1 x 235 x 26.4mm | 453.6g
  • 10 Apr 2003
  • CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Cambridge
  • English
  • New.
  • 2 b/w illus.
  • 0521482267
  • 9780521482264

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Author Information

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Review quote

'In this meticulous work of scholarship, Sarah Queen shows convincingly that there was more complexity in Han political thought than suggested by a dichotomy into Confucians and others.' Asian Affairs

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Back cover copy

Every general account of the development of Chinese thought makes mention of Tung Chung-shu (ca. 195 - 105 B.C.E.) as one of the pivotal philosophers of the Han (206 B.C.E. - 220 C.E.). Tung's interpretations helped establish the first state-sponsored Confucian Canon, and created an ideal of the ruler and his role in government that was central to political discussion for two thousand years. The lengthy work attributed to him, the Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn (Ch'un-ch'iu fan-lu), has long been viewed as an important text for understanding the development of Chinese Confucianism. Professor Queen provides a new reading of this text and concludes that it was compiled several centuries after Tung's death, sometime between the third and sixth centuries C.E., from Tung's authentic writings and other materials not authored by him. By historizing the Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn, Queen allows a new view of Tung Chung-shu, one that sees his hermeneutics evolving not outside of history, but in relation to the political factors and doctrinal discourses that defined his day. Queen challenges the common assumption that Tung's purpose was to legitimate the political status quo. The author argues that Tung was a reformist, intent on persuading the emperor, whose power was institutionally unlimited, to accept voluntarily the role of sage-priest and become the ritual center of the realm, separated by his self-discipline from the business of governance for which his officials were responsible. From chronicle to canon also addresses Chinese religious phenomena. Approaching "scripture" not as a literary genre but as a religiohistorical phenomenon, Queen illuminates the nature ofConfucian spirituality both in its own right and in relation to Western traditions of religiosity and textuality.

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