First of all, I’d like to welcome our Chinese visitors! I hope you enjoy our online book that is now available in simplified Chinese, recently translated by Ding Peng.
The Chinese language and use of characters makes it one of the more unique and interesting languages in the world. In order to effectively write Chinese you need to recognize between three and six thousand characters. I find it interesting that a Chinese word often consists of individual characters that help define the meaning of the word. In fact, the vast majority of characters in Chinese are compound characters that can be broken down into 2 or more components. Its this characteristic that reveals some interesting connections to Genesis.
The Chinese – Genesis Connection
So what does the Chinese language have to do with the Bible and Genesis? There are many Chinese phrases that when broken out into their compound characters show a connection to Genesis. One of my favorite examples is the Chinese word for ship:
Here are the compound words when broken out:
舟 = boat
八 = eight
口 = mouth (persons)
The word for ship or vessel has its roots in the compound phrase boat-eight-persons. Sound familiar? Its a reasonable inference to Noah’s ark. But its even a tad more interesting than this. When I showed the ship (船) example to a Bible study group, a middle-aged Caucasian lady in the group protested. She had spent several years teaching in China and proudly claimed to know the language fluently. She said the symbol I showed for the number eight was incorrect and she was very adamant about it. Ut oh.
I strive to keep my presentations accurate without speculative or weakly established claims, so I told the lady that I would research it further and get back to her. I promised I would remove the character example if she was proven correct. Well, it so happened at the time that I was working for a Chinese manager named Kuang Yi Chen, a very bright lady with a PhD in Electrical Engineering. That very next day when I showed up to work on Monday, I showed her the ship character 船. She said that the upper right character indeed isn’t the character for eight. I immediately sighed and knew I would have to remove that example from my presentation. But then she said something very interesting. She went on to say that the particular character used to mean the number eight, that is, it was an ancient representation of the number eight! My sigh turned into both relief and amazement! Unfortunately, the lady who was so adamant it wasn’t an eight never showed up to that Bible study and I haven’t seen her since, because to be honest I really wanted to gloat. 🙂
Another example comes from temptation or tempter:
When broken out:
广 – under a cover
林 – two trees
鬼 – Devil
Does that sound familiar? I hope it does, as this points back to the two trees in the Garden of Eden, and how Satan tempted Eve to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. For a really interesting view of this tree and how it symbolizes the law and man’s rebellion from it, please watch this brief video:
There are plenty of other examples of how parts of the Chinese language show roots that trace back to the creation and Noah’s flood. I highly recommend the book ‘Genesis and the Mystery Confucius Couldn’t solve’ by Ethel Nelson available at most online book stores.