Translation as culture transplant : a case stuey of Morrison's Bible translation and Taiping Heavenly Kingdom

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Translation as culture transplant : a case stuey of Morrison's Bible translation and Taiping Heavenly Kingdom

 

Author: Wang, Yuechen
Title: Translation as culture transplant : a case stuey of Morrison's Bible translation and Taiping Heavenly Kingdom
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2014
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: v, 226 pages ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2798167
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/7884
Abstract: This research investigates the relationship between the translation of the Bible and the rise of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. Robert Morrison translated the Bible into Chinese in 1823. But it soon inspired Chinese readers to give rise to a severe insurrection called the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom movement (1851-1864). The peace-and-love-preaching religion from another culture turned out to be a bloody sword in the host culture. This study will argue that it is an illustration of cultural transplant, in which both the translated cultural elements and the host culture change themselves because of the foreign encounter. This research traces the history of biblical translation in China and the events that led Hong Xiuquan to interpret it as the prophecy of his Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. The research investigates five texts, namely Morrison's translation, Liang Fa's Good Words to Admonish the Age, Gutzlaff’s translation, and the two versions of the Taiping Bible. Liang’s book includes part of Morrison’s translation, and it inspired Hong to create an unique faith. Hong later read Gutzlaff’s translation of the whole Bible, and established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. He altered and annotated Gutzlaff’s translation, and published two Taiping versions of the Bible. This research first studies the relationship between Morrison’s translation and Liang Fa’s Good Words to Admonish the Age, and discovers that Liang excerpts Morrison's translation and blends among his own essays explaining Christian doctrines. However, the excerpted translations are altered by Liang, and both the translation and Liang’s essays are misleading. The research then discusses the influence of Liang’s book on Hong's faith. At last, Gutzlaff’s translation and the two versions of the Taiping Bible are compared. It reveals that Hong altered and annotated the translation mainly for the purpose of conforming the Christian doctrines to his own interpretation. In other words, he reshaped the Bible to meet his political and religious needs.
After analysis of the texts, the research discusses the case in terms of culture, society, and the concept of translation. By referring to relevance theory, the research tries to explain how Christian doctrines are misinterpreted in a series of translation. A few Christian terms are selected and analyzed how they are associated with other political and religious concepts inherent in Chinese culture. The new association brings forth new interpretation of Christian terms in the context of Chinese culture. In terms of translation and society, this research regards Chinese society and the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom respectively as two social systems, and studies the function of translation in their formation and evolution. Lastly, this study compares the case of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and the development of Christianity and the Bible, and argues that translation is the manifestation of the power of interpretation. An "original" text is often not so much a stable text as an ideological construct. A translation can become the original when it is widely accepted in a community. In fact, all texts are concealed forms of translation. It is hoped that this research sheds light on the study of the history of biblical translation in China and widens the scope of translation studies.

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