Original Analects Supplement
Appendix 4

Pages: 267 289

General. This Appendix is a shorter version of our 1996 Life and Mentorship monograph. The monograph goes into somewhat more detail on numerological aspects.

Some readers have been disappointed that our conclusions in this area do not reject more of the Han and earlier lore about Confucius. We were ourselves initially skeptical about this lore. We expected that close study would wind up demonstrating that most or all of it was later mythologizing, without a plausible foundation in earlier times. We expected to find a myth process without a demonstrable core of fact. We were accordingly alert to detect signs of growth in these traditions, and we did discover that the expected kinds of growth had taken place. To our surprise, however, we also discovered a seeming core, at the beginning of that growth process, that would have made sense in 05th century terms. That core seems to hold up well as representing early tradition about Confucius and his followers.

One point that especially impressed us was the correlation between the probable ages at which several protégés began their association with Confucius (as calculated from the difference in their ages in the dubious Disciple Register list), and events in Lu which might well have given an old Lu loyalist like Confucius more scope at court than previously. We were also struck by the seemingly good fit between the false eclipse reports in the Chun/Chyou chronicle and the plausible birth dates of Confucius and his Lu ancestors. The resulting theory explains not one, but all four, of these interpolated eclipse records, and it is the only theory known to us which does so. In these cases, then, and in some others less dramatic, we find reason to credit some parts of the lore record, or some implications that are readily deduced from it.

The lore documents don't appear to go back beyond the 04th century. They were probably compiled by the Kung family, who by then were in charge of the Confucian school of Lu. The family had plenty of reasons to revise and expand any records they may have possessed about Confucius, but they are also the ones most likely to have possessed such records in the first place. We conclude that their revision and expansion of the Confucius persona rested on a plausibly historical basis. The same applies to their hostile revision of the school's records or memories of its 05c disciple heads, in LY 11.

We might quote one paragraph from the Conclusions page of the SPP monograph:

Validity of the Sources. The general picture which we find concerning the standard sources which have been available to scholarship for the last several thousand years is that they indeed invite skepticism as they stand, but that such skepticism has enough material to work on that it can produce reasonably sound inferences as to textually prior, and historically more plausible, states of that material. In making such inferences, the value of earlier rather than later evidence continues to be affirmed. That is to say, the Warring States situation is difficult but not hopeless. It would seem to merit, and permit, further investigation.

TOA itself is offered as part of that "further investigation." We hope that other parts of the investigation will be available in book form presently.

267 n23. The number of chapters in our present KZJY is 44, not 42.

267 n24. We might emphasize that "plausible" here and elsewhere in TOA is meant in the mathematical sense of "reasonable, deserving of credence" and not in the colloquial sense of "specious."

289. In the third line from the top, supply "disciples" after "posthumous."


This Supplement is Copyright © 2001- by E Bruce and A Taeko Brooks

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