Translation and conceptual change: The historical development of jiao 教 in Chinese and its impact on the concept of ‘religion’ in English scholarship
The historical development of jiao 教 in Chinese and its impact on the concept of ‘religion’ in English scholarship
I-Hsin Chen | The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Translation and Interpreting Studies, 13(2): 317–336.
ABSTRACT: This article contends that the traditional Chinese concept of jiao (teaching) has, through translation, greatly influenced the conceptual development of ‘religion’ in English-language scholarship. The article first demonstrates how the historical development of jiao in Chinese reveals numerous previously neglected patterns of Chinese spirituality. Using Friedrich Schleiermacher’s and Max Müller’s viewpoints, the article suggests the significance of translation in redefining a concept via the particularity of foreign culture. It then examines how James Legge, Jan Jakob Maria de Groot, William Edward Soothill, Bertrand Russell, and Ernest Richard Hughes and K. Hughes redefine religion in their translations of jiao. Highlighting jiao and religion as fluid categories via scholars’ translations and debates, my article challenges simplistic assumptions about Western supremacy in Sino-Western acculturation. It affirms the traditions and translations of jiao as powerful agents for shaping and enriching the meanings and phenomena of religion in the globalizing dynamics of human cultural interactions.