Departmental Bulletin Paper GODの訳語に関する用語論争 ―19世紀『中国叢報』「Chinese repository」における1840-1852の記事を中心に
Chinese Terms Used for the Concept of God : In the Chinese Repository : 1847-1852

余, 雅婷

During nineteenth century China, particularly the period spanning the 1820s to the 1860s, four different versions of the Bible (the entirety of the Old and New Testaments) were translated and published by missionaries living in China. The linguistic problems facing these translaters were many and complex. In this paper I will consider the debate on the use of Shangdi (上帝) 〔Shang Te〕 and Shen (神) 〔Shin〕 in Bible translations found in the Chinese Repository (中国叢報). The Chinese Repository was published from 1832 until 1851. Its aim was to inform readers about interesting facts regarding China. The argument about the use of terms is taken up in the last of three volumes. In this paper I will clarify the dispute between British missionaries and American missionaries about the difference of opinion regarding the translation of the word “God” into Chinese. A Bible translation committee of five missionaries was organized in Shanghai in 1843. The main point of the dispute was regarding the choice of one word that might best describe the concept of God in Chinese. In 1848, details about the most appropriate term were still being debated by Walter Henry Medhurst (麥都思 1796-1857) and William Jones Boone (文惠廉 1811-1864). Medhurst believed that Shangdi could be used for translating God. In contrast, Boon rejected Medhurst’s use of Shangdi, and advocated the use of Shen instead. The Chinese Repository provided a place where Medhurst and Boone discussed their theories, predictions, and other aspects of rendering the Bible into Chinese. Each of them was well educated and deeply versed in the Chinese language. They were both dedicated to finding the most appropriate Chinese vocabulary to use in translating the abstract notion of God. The use of Shangdi or Shen became a burning issue for these two men. My aim here is to investigate the circumstances surrounding the missionaries’ decisions for choosing these terms..

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