An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Kongcongzi 孔叢子

Jul 24, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Kongcongzi 孔叢子 "The Many Kong Family Master's Anthology", is a collection of dialogues of Confucius and his disciples. Authorship of the book is attributed to Confucius' descendant Kong Fu 孔鮒 (c. 264-208 BCE), courtesy name Ziyu 子魚 or Jia 甲.

When the chief minister of Qin 秦 (221-206 BC), Li Si 李斯, ordered the burning the Confucian books, Kong Fu, as librarian of Confucius' home state of Lu 魯, had them hidden inside the brick walls of the mansion of the family Kong. After the downfall of the Qin dynasty, Kong Fu took his time to compile the Kongcongzi. The book was 6-juan long and included 21 chapters. During the reign of Emperor Wu 漢武帝 (r. 141-87 BCE) of the Han dynasty 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE), some rhapsodies were written for the Kongcongzi, as well as short essays, assembled in 1 supplementary juan.

The chapter Xiao Erya 小爾雅 has often been used for the study of ancient characters. The Song-period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Song Xian 宋咸 (jinshi degree 1024) wrote a commentary on the Kongcongzi. The Kongcongzi is not mentioned in the imperial bibliography Yiwenzhi 藝文志 of the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書, but first in Wang Su's 王肅 (195-256) book Shengzhenglun 聖證論 from the Wei period 曹魏 (220-265). Because Wang Su had a bad reputation as a literary forger, many scholars doubted the authenticity of the Kongcongzi.

The appendix Liancong 連叢, also called Liancongzi 連叢子 or Xu Kongcongzi 續孔叢子, includes rhapsodies and prose texts compiled by Kong Zang 孔臧 (fl. 127 BCE).

According to the imperial bibliography Jingjizhi 經籍志 in the Suishu 隋書, the Kongcongzi, with a length of 7 juan, was part of the Kongzi jiayu 孔子家語. The history of the transmission of the Kongcongzi is not very clear. The Song-period Neo-Confucian scholar Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200) analysed the language of the book and identified it as a pre-Han text.

The oldest surviving print is just a reproduction of a printed Song-period edition. The Kongcongzi is included in the series Han-Wei congshu 漢魏叢書 and Sibu congkan 四部叢刊. The Han-Wei congshu version was reprinted by Master Zheng's 鄭氏 Longxijing Studio 龍溪精舍.

The Kongcongzi was translated by Yoav Ariel (1989), K'ung-Ts'ung-Tzu: The K'ung Family Masters' Anthology (Princeton: Princeton University Press).

Table 1. Contents of the Kongcongzi 孔叢子
1. 嘉言 Jiayan Words of Praise
2. 論書 Lunshu About the "Book of Documents"
3. 記義 Jiyi Record of righteousness
4. 刑論 Xinglun On punishment
5. 記問 Jiwen Recorded questions
6. 雜訓 Zaxun Miscellaneous instructions
7. 居衛 Ju Wei Living in Wei
8. 巡狩 Xunshou Royal inspection tours
9. 公儀 Gong Yi Minister Gong Yi
10. 抗志 Kangzhi Holding firm to personal ideals
11. 小爾雅 Xiao Erya Lesser "Approach to Correct [Expressions]"
12. 公孫龍 Gonsun Long Philosopher Gongsun Long
13. 儒服 Rufu Confucian robes
14. 對魏王 Dui Wei Wang Dialogue with the King of Wei
15. 陳士義 Chen Shiyi Recounting scholar's righteousness
16. 論勢 Lunshi On crucial conditions
17. 執節 Zhijie Holding fast to moral integrity
18. 詰墨 Jie Mo Criticizing Mozi
19. 獨治 Duzhi Superlative mastery
20. 問軍禮 Wen Junli Questions about military rites
21. 荅(=答)問 Dawen Answering questions
22.-23. 連叢子 Liancongzi Appendix 1-2
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1543.