15 November 2010

From the "Stele of the Diffusion in of the Brilliant Teaching in the Middle Kingdom" (大秦景教流 行中國碑)

In 1623, a stone stele was unearthed in the Chinese city of Xi'an (西安) with writings from Nestorian Christianity and a description of Nestorian Christian communities in China in the early seventh century. It was titled "Stele of the Diffusion in of the Brilliant Teaching in the Middle Kingdom" (大秦景教流 行中國碑), and began thus:


未明釋教,雖稱傳譯未獲半珠,圖竊名匪爲福利0表聞奏,意望流行,聖上睿哲文明允恭
釋典,察其所譯理昧詞踈,且夫釋氏伽藍大秦寺居止既別,行法全乖,景淨應傳彌尸訶教,
沙門釋子弘闡佛經,欲使教法區分人無濫,正邪異類,L渭殊流,
若.常然真寂.先先而無元;然靈後後而妙有,玄樞而造化.妙O聖以元尊者;
其唯我三一妙身.無元真主阿羅訶歟判十字以定四方.鼓元風而生二氣;韻空易
而天地開.日月運而晝夜作,匠成万物.然立初人.別賜良和.令鎭化海;渾元之性.而不
盈.素蕩之心.本無希嗜.I乎娑殫施妄.鈿飾純精;平大於此是之中.隙冥同於彼非之
内.是以三百六十五種.肩隨結轍.競織法羅.

Lo, thus it is said: eternally in seclusion, at the very beginning but without
origin; abysmal will he be like the cosmos until the last end and of transcendent
existence. Reigning over the central point of the universe he created the world,
the one who has given spirit to the saints and who is venerated by them from the
origin: who could this be except the sublime body of Our Trinity,
the one who is without origin and is the True Lord: Aluohe! He measured out
the cross and fixed the four cardinal directions; he has stirred the original breath
and has thereby created the two basic principles. Darkness and void succeed
each other and heaven and earth opened; sun and moon started to move and
morning and evening are created. Skillfully he created the Ten Thousand Things,
errected the first man, especially granted him content, and subdued the ocean of
creation for him.

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