THE DISCOVERY OF GENESIS by C.H. Kang and Ethel R. Nelson
“How the Truths of Genesis Were Found Hidden in the Chinese Language”
Published in 1979, I recall that this book and the claims of its authors did indeed make a noteworthy splash across evangelical Christian circles, but for some reason I seem to remember that splash as having taken place later on, say, in the late 1980s or even early 1990s. That is when I distinctly recall evangelical friends, and a few evangelical teachers to whom I was listening at the time, praising this. Perhaps I was just feeling the ripples of the original splash. Hmm, yes, that could very well be, as I did yet not know Christ in the 1980s.
At any rate, I finally got around to picking up a used copy of this. The authors’ claims are gigantic, and they are intriguing; nevertheless, it is a brief work, only 121 pages. The authors propose to show that the account of the Book of Genesis can be substantiated in many of the symbols, or ideograms, of the Chinese language still used today; that unlike all more modern languages with their respective abstract letters in place of symbols, each Chinese ideogram represents a visual image, universally understood from antiquity, and when one takes apart each part or “radical” of a given ideogram, and isolates the meaning of each, and then adds each part together and then considers the meaning of the whole ideogram, many of the accounts of Genesis can be appreciated: The Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, The Nature of Satan, The Temptation and the Serpent, The Fall from Grace, The Hiding and Covering with Fig Leaves, Cain and Able, The Noahic Deluge, The Tower of Babel, and others. In the epilogue, the authors claim to show how the New Testament Gospel of Jesus Christ can be visually ascertained in a few Chinese characters. Unlike the authors’ more numerous Chinese symbols which purportedly confirm Genesis, where the ancient Chinese scribes would ostensibly have been creating these symbols to record events which they or their immediate ancestors had physically experienced, the authors conjecture regarding the supposed New Testament-confirming Chinese characters reads thus: “…it would seem that the ancient Chinese sage was truly inspired…He surely appears to have been thinking God’s thoughts after Him!”
That is, of course, a very assuming statement. But it is consistent with the method of these authors throughout. The claims they make are a bit too bold, too assuming from beginning to end. They provide diagrams in the margins for all of the Chinese characters they are describing, alongside their explanations of which character correlates to which Genesis account. For roughly half of these, it seems to this reader that the authors are engaging in eisegesis rather than exegesis; that is, they are expressing their own idea, their own bias, and presenting that as some sort of obvious conclusion. This is especially evident when the authors attempt to explain the meaning of commonplace verbs like “to come” or “to go” or “to converse.” To assume that the ancient Chinese scribes would go to the trouble of fashioning such general, everyday parts of speech according to the Genesis account, that they would be that assiduously careful even in very mundane matters to render it faithful to Genesis, begins to get a little harder to believe–though, according to the diagram of each symbol as given by the authors, the respective explanations as given by the authors certainly do match up. What do they match up with?—Ah, here we get into the part that does make this book very worthwhile, for even the more hard-to-believe symbols/explanations are in accord with some other symbols/explanations that would seem to be of a much more apparent nature—and there are actually quite a few of these, from the symbol for “spirit” to the symbol for “to create” to the symbol for “west” to the symbol for “finish/complete” to the symbol for “garden” to the symbol for “to covet” to the symbols for “forbidden” and “devil” to the symbols for “tempter” and “to hide” to the symbols for “sorrow” and “suffering” to the symbols for “thorns” and “righteousness” and “sacrificial animals” to the symbol for “boat” to the symbol “altogether” and then “to hand down,” then to the symbols for “tower” to the symbol for “rebellion/confusion” to the symbol for “scatter/disperse,” and a few others. That is, assuming these authors’ basic claims as to the elementary meanings of each character and components are true; I will have to take their word for the time being as I do not read or speak Chinese.
So, assumimg the authors are telling the truth here, then this is indeed a very eyebrow-raising little book. And the authors do indeed provide enough evidence to show that their theory is surprisingly plausible. This reader would have preferred that they temper their enthusiasm just a bit, though, and put forward their findings with more objectivity and less certainty, in order to not make themselves so susceptible to the charge of “jumping to a desired conclusion.”
One more thing that this book briefly imparts is a bit of intriguing and little-known history about ancient China. The authors tell us that in very ancient China, before the time of Confucius and Buddha and Taoism, and for the centuries immediately following the approximate Scriptural date for the aftermath of the Tower of Babel enterprise, there was a long tradition of monotheistic worship and a ritual of sacrifice under the very first Chinese Emperors that was peculiarly similar to the accounts of worship and sacrifice outlined in the Book of Genesis as having been practiced by the generations of Adam down through Noah and Abraham. This tantalizing bit of history crops up a few times in the book, the authors do not go beyond a superficial relating of it, and it would seem that this deserves an investigation and a book (of greater length and depth than this one) of its own. Has someone already written such a book? Has someone already carried out such a study into this claim? I should like to read such a book about such a study. Is there such a thing out there?
Bottom line: This book is very recommendable indeed. The ambitious, and outright shocking, claims of the authors may very well be correct. But just do not look for anything definitive here; not in such a skimpy book as this. Let’s not jump to any conclusions just yet.
Addendum: Let it be noted that when these authors cite verses from the Bible, they do not cite from an authoritative text like the Tyndale or the KJB: They cite from the N.E.B., one of the plethora of bogus, paraphrasing, copyrighted, Alexandrian “new bible versions” that duped believers are unwisely using nowadays.
Rating: Δ Δ Δ