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Persons in Chinese History - Lu Deming 陸德明

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Lu Deming 陸德明 (ca. 550-630), actual name Lu Yuanlang 陸元朗 (Deming is his courtesy name), was a Confucian scholar of the early Tang period 唐 (618-907). He came from Wu 吳 in the prefecture of Suzhou 蘇州 (modern Wuxian 吳縣, Jiangsu) and was a disciple of Zhou Hongzheng 周弘正, who stood in the tradition of the Wei period 曹魏 (220-265) philosopher Wang Bi 王弼 and was an instructor of Emperor Wu 梁武帝 of the Liang dynasty 梁 (502-557). During the reign of Emperor Xuan 陳宣帝 (r. 569-582) of the Chen dynasty 陳 (557-589), Lu Deming became an imperial instructor in the Chengguang Hall 承光殿 and was appointed assistant instructor in the Directorate of Education (guozi zhujiao 國子助教). After the downfall of the Chen dynasty he returned to his home town as a private teacher and thinker. During that time he compiled his comprehensive commentary to the Confucian Classics, Jingdian shiwen 經典釋文. The book might have been begun in 583 and was probably finished as early as 589. Emperor Taizong 唐太宗 (r. 626-649), the second emperor of the Tang dynasty, learned of his book and was highly impressed, so that he promoted its circulation.
The Jingdian shiwen is a commentary to twelve classical texts of Confucianism, and the Daoist writings Laozi 老子 and Zhuangzi 莊子. It is not only a very exact commentary to each paragraph of these texts, but also provides a comprehensive exegesis of the Confucian system, as it was already explained by Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) scholars. The preface (Xulu 序錄) includes China's earliest account on the history of the Confucian Classics. This account is based on Liu Xin's 劉歆 bibliography Liuyi lüe 六藝略 from the Han period. It was believed that the Classic Yijing 易經 "Book of Changes" was the oldest of all texts, originating in the notes of the mythical emperor Fu Xi 伏羲, and therefore put it onto the first place. The old-text Classic Guwen Shangshu 古文尚書 "Old-Text Book of Documents", originating in the times of the sage rulers of the past, occupied the second place. The Classic Maoshi 毛詩 (better known as Shijing 詩經 "Book of Songs") was created during the early Zhou period 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE), but parts of it (Shang song 商頌 "Hymns of the Shang") were hymns for the descendants of the mythical emperors Yao 堯 and Shun 舜. The Duke of Zhou 周公 was believed to have compiled the Zhouli 周禮 "Rites of the Zhou" and Yili 儀禮 "Etiquette and Rites", while the third of the ritual texts, Liji 禮記 "Records of Rites", hailed from the Western Han period 西漢 (206 BCE-8 CE). The next group of texts in the chronology was the Chunqiu 春秋 "Spring and Autumn Annals", allegedly written by Confucius 孔子, and the commentaries to it by the great philosopher's disciples. The lesser Confucian texts Xiaojing 孝經 "Classic of Filial Piety" and Lunyu 論語 "Confucian Analects" are the last in the sequence of Confucian writings. The two Daoist books end the collection, and the glossary Erya 爾雅 is to be used like a kind of appendix.
Lu Deming so perpetuated the sequence of the venerated Confucian canon. His commentaries reflect the history of half a century of interpretation. He made use of 179 books written between the Han and the Southern Dynasties period 南朝 (420~589), and often quoted from these texts. This is very important because nearly none of them has survived as a separate book.
The "Book of Changes" is based on Fu Xi's Eight Trigrams (bagua 八卦), out of which the 64 hexagrams (liushisi gua 六十四卦) were created. King Wen 周文王 of the Zhou dynasty 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE) wrote the dictum commentary (guaci 卦辭), and the Duke of Zhou created the line commentaries (yaoci 爻辭). Confucius wrote the "Great Commentary" (Dazhuan 大傳) and the ten "wing commentaries" (shi yi 十翼) to the Yijing. During the Han period there were many different versions of the Yijing in circulation, the oldest of which was probably the version of Tian He 田何. The new-text versions were transmitted during the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) by the erudites (boshi 博士) Shi Chou 施讎, Meng Xi 孟喜, Liangqiu He 梁丘賀, and Jing Fang 京房, the old-text versions by Fei Zhangweng 費長翁 and Master Gao 高氏. During the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) Fei's version fell into oblivion. Most of these texts went lost during the Jin period 晉 (265-420), and only the commentaries by Zheng Xuan 鄭玄 and Wang Bi survived, the latter prevailing over Zheng's interpretation.
The "Book of Documents" consists of imperial and royal instructions whose text was allegedly revised by Confucius. In the early Han period Fu Sheng 伏勝 presented a new-text version of it to the throne, while three other versions were known, one by Ouyang Gao 歐陽高 and two by Xiahou Sheng 夏侯勝 (Xiahou Senior 大夏侯), and that of Xiahou Jian 夏侯建 (Xiahou Junior 小夏侯). An old-text version (the famous Guwen Shangshu) appeared in the possession of Kong Hui 孔惠 and was presented to the throne by Kong Anguo 孔安國. Lu Deming was of the opinion that the commentaries of Ma Rong 馬融 and Zheng Xuan refer to a new-text Shangshu, and not the old-text Shangshu. He is also the first person mentioning Kong Hui.
The poems in the "Book of Songs" were collected by royal officials from among the population, with the intention to use these poems for political and moral education (jiaohua 教化). Confucius revised the collection of 311 songs, while his disciple Zixia 子夏 transmitted them orally. During the Han period four versions were known, the Lu version (Lushi 魯詩), the Qi version (Qishi 齊詩), the Han version (Hanshi 韓詩), and the Mao version (Maoshi 毛詩). The eminent scholar Zheng Xuan preferred the version of Duke Mao 毛公, for which reason the three other versions were lost.
The Duke of Zhou is credited with a compilation of a ritual text that fixed the regulations for the state offices. During the early Han period Gaotang Sheng 高堂生 wrote a ritual text for noblemen, Shili 士禮. During the reign of Emperor Jing 漢景帝 (r. 157-141 BCE), Prince Xian of Hejian 河間獻王 initiated a series of presentations of ritual texts, like Master Li's 李氏 Zhouguan 周官, in which the chapter Kaogongji 考工記 was only a supplement for a lost chapter that could not even be detected when a reward was promised by the emperor. This fact is first narrated in Lu Deming's book, and not mentioned in the imperial bibliography Yiwenzhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書. The Tang period scholar Yan Shigu 顏師古 later explained that the Kaogongji was a surrogate for the chapter Dongguan 冬官 "Winter offices". Lu Deming also defines the ritual book of Dai Sheng 戴聖 (Dai Junior 小戴), Xiao Dai li 小戴禮, as that text that was identical to the transmitted version of the Liji. Of all ancient commentaries, only those of Zheng Xuan seem to have survived at that time.
The "Spring and Autumn Annals" were a chronicle of the state of Lu 魯, authored by Confucius. His contemporarian Zuo Qiuming 左丘明 wrote a version that is partially a commentary and partially a parallel version. It is known as Zuozhuan 左傳. Of four other commentaries, Gongyangzhuan 公羊傳, Guliangzhuan 榖梁傳, Zoushi zhuan 鄒氏傳 and Xiashi zhuan 夾氏傳 only the first two surived. The Gongyangzhuan was a textbook during the Han period, but in two different versions, one by 嚴氏 and one by 顏氏. The Guliangzhuan was only known in one version. During the time of Lu Deming the Zuozhuan was highly respected, while the other two commentaries were barely used.
The Jingdian shiwen makes use of Zheng Xuan's commentary to the Xiaojing, He Yan's 何晏 commentary to the Lunyu, and Guo Pu's 郭璞 analysis of the glossary Erya.
Lu Deming's Jingdian shiwen can therefore be seen as a kind of elaboration of Liu Xiang's descriptive bibliography Qilüe 七略 and the imperial bibliography Yiwenzhi. Lu Deming also wrote separate commentaries, Yishu 易疏 on the "Book of Changes", and Laozi shu 老子疏 to the book Daodejing 道德經. Both are lost.


Source: Pang Pu 龐樸 (ed. 1997), Zhongguo ruxue 中國儒學 (Shanghai: Dongfang chuban zhongxin), Vol. 2, p. 94.

February 8, 2014 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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