Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

"Wu-ji" (Selflessness) in the Analects and Dao De Jing and the "Kenosis" of Christ

Author: QIU Yexiang, Ph. D. Candidate, School of Liberal Arts, Renmin University of China; Lecturer at the Institute of Comparative Literature and Comparative Culture, Henan University



James Legge stressed Confucius’ “selflessness” in the process of achieving “Chengji” (Self-completion) when he was translating and interpreting the following sentence in the Analects: “They are, in regard to the aged, to give them rest; in regard to friends, to show them sincerity; in regard to the young, to treat them tenderly.” Legge also highlighted the negative dialectics in pursuing “self-completion” through “self-emptying” when he was translating and interpreting the phrase in the Dao De Jing: “It is emptied, yet it loses not its power; it is moved again, and sends forth air the more.” He used “humble” in his translation of “Lü yi xia ren” (be anxious to humble himself to others) in the Analects, which we may link to Christ’s humility. Hence, in Legge’s translation and interpretation, we can see more clearly the “negative dialects” in the Analects and Dao De Jing, and from this reflect on the abundant “negative dialects” in Christian tradition.  On the basis of such comparison, we can reflect upon the “kenosis” in Christianity so that we may understand the essence of Christ’s “kenosis” as well as the weakness and compassion of Christ (and God).



James Legge; Analects; Dao De Jing; Christ; humility; kenosis


Full Text (International Version):

QIU YexiangSCN JSCC.pdf


Full Text (Simplified Chinese Version): 

QIU YexiangSCN JSCC.pdf