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Prof Max Deeg 


 

Research:

I am currently working on two major projects: An English translation and extensive commentary of the Datang Xiyu ji and a translation and commentary (in German) of the Chinese Christian documents from the Tang period.

The first project will, more than 120 years after its first translation into English by Samuel Beal, present the famous Datang Xiyu ji 大唐西域記, “Record of the Western Regions from the Tang (Period)”, by the Chinese traveller monk Xuanzang 玄奘 (603 (?)-664, travelled 629-645) in a new English translation, accompanied by an introduction and an extensive commentary.

The Xiyu ji has been one of the major textual sources for studying and investigating the history, culture, religions and geography of Central Asia and South Asia in the first millenium of our era. Since its first translation into a Western language (French, 1857/58: Stanislas Julien) it has been used by archaeologists and historians to retrace and discover Buddhist and other sites. There is almost no publication dealing with the history of Asia in the first millenium which does not refer to this text, and yet there has been going on a great amount of romantization and mythologization of it and its author Xuanzang. The new translation cum commentary will provide a proper inter- and trans-disciplinary contextualization in which certain key-questions like historical reliability, authenticity and the construction of the text with respect to archaeological, geographical and art-historical research done in one century's time (since Alexander Cunningham's "discovery" of Buddhist sites in India and Aurel Stein's exploration of Chinese Turkestan) and in the framework of Chinese and Buddhist historiography and ideology. The new approach to the text will include the up-to-date of Chinese history and literature, East Asian art history, Central Asian history and archaeology, Trans-Asian history, South Asian philology, history, archaeology and Buddhist Studies.

So far the whole Chinese text has been translated into English and the commentary of the first and part of the second of twelve fascicles (chapters) has been written.

The second project is aiming at translating the earliest Chinese Christian texts – formerly called “Nestorian”, now rather called by their own Chinese term of reference “Brilliant Teaching”, Jingjiao 景教 – into German and at providing an extensive commentary discussing terminological, contextual and historical problems. It will counterbalance the sometimes uncritical reading of these texts as either purely Christian texts without taking into account their wider religio-cultural context in the multi-ethnic and -cultural “climate” of the Tang Empire, or as sources for a Christianity over-adapted to its Chinese environment. The project rather tries to make transparent the different layers and aspects of the texts, questions of intentionality and motivation, how the texts were intended to be understood, and how they could have been understood by a Chinese audience / readership. The first monograph resulting from this project is a translation and commentary of the famous stone inscription from the former Tang capital Chang’an, the Daqin-jingjiao-liuxing-zhongguo-bei 景教流行中國碑, “Stele of the Diffusion in of the Brilliant Teaching in the Middle Kingdom”, erected in 781.

The second part will comprise the Chinese Christian manuscripts and will make usage of the manuscripts that have recently, after more than half a century, recently reappeared in Japan. The whole range of texts dealt with in this second part, are, with preliminary translations of the title:

1. Xuting-mishi-suo-jing (yijuan) 序聽迷詩所經, „Sūtra of Hearing the (Preaching) of the Messias“

The following three texts were called Yishen-lun , „Treatise of the One God“ 一神論 by Haneda Tōru

2. Yu di’er喻第二, „Similis, Number 2“

3. Yitian-lun diyi一天論第一, „Treatise of the One God“

4. Shizun-bushi-lun disan 世尊布施論第三, „Treatise of the Alms-Giving of the Wolrd-Honored One “

 5. Jingjiao-san-weimeng-du-zan 景教三威蒙度讚,  „Praise of the Pāramitā of the Three Majestics of the Illustrious Teaching“

6. Zun-jing 尊經, „Sūtra of Veneration“

7. Zhixuan-anle-jing 至玄安樂經, „Sūtra of the Ultimate and Mysterious Happiness“

8. Daqin-jingjiao-xuanyuan-(zhi)ben-jing 大秦景教宣元至本經, „Sūtra of the Origin of Origins of the Illustrious Teaching from Daqin “

9. Daqin-jingjiao-dasheng-tongzhen-guifa-zan 大秦景教大聖通真歸法讚, „The Praise of the Seeking Refuge to the Pervading Truth of the Great Saint of the Illustrious Teaching from Daqin“