Showing posts from June, 2007

Evolution of the Structure of the Bible: Part I

About 1700 years ago, the Roman emperor Constantine the Great made two decisions that would forever changed the course of human history.

The first decision was made in 313 when he signed the Edict of Milan, which granted civil rights and freedom to adopt any religions including Christianity. With this, hundreds of years of oppression of Christianity in the Roman Empire was effectively brought to an end.

The second decision was that, shortly before his death in 337, Constantine was baptized and thus, formally adopted Christianity.

In some ways, these decisions have profound effects in accelerating the growth of Christianity, and therefore making the Bible the most important literature ever produced.

However, pious Christians often see the Bible as a source of spiritual inspiration and lack the knowledge of the evolution of its content. To understand the present structure of the Bible, it is necessary to go back to the Jews living in ancient Judea.

The ancient Jews, like many other early …

On the Kingdom of Malacca: Part I

We learned quite a great deal about Malacca in secondary school. We were taught, for examples, that Malacca was a great seaport during the 15th century which has attracted a lot of people to do business there, that the founder of this kingdom is an Indonesian prince called Parameswara, that Tun Perak is a wise prime minister, and so on. However, the standard history textbook pays extremely little attention on the connection between Malacca and China, despite the fact that Malacca is intricately related to Ming China.

In 1403, Zhu Di (朱棣) became the third emperor of Ming Dynasty. One of the important decisions he made almost immediately after he ascended to the throne was to order a series of marine expeditions to the Indian Ocean. This famous series of expedition is, as you might already know, led by a muslim eunuch named Zheng He (郑和).

In October 1403, Zhu Di sent friendship emissaries to a lot of foreign countries. A eunuch named Yin Qing (尹庆) was sent to Malacca (满剌加), bringing with …







On Sex-related Taboo-words such as "Fuck": Part II

The attitude of Chinese towards sex or sex-related issues is, most of the time, aversive. As a result, not many people know how to write the proper Chinese characters for external genitalia, even though we may sometimes use them as profanities.

Usually, external genitalia are directly associated with the word 阴 (pronounced yin, literally, dark or invisible). We can form words to describe parts of the reproductive organs by adding the prefix 阴 to a more descriptive noun.

For instance, when we add 阴 to 道 (tract or conduit), we form the term 阴道, which is the vaginal tract. Other examples include 阴茎 (yin + stick = penis), 阴囊 (yin + bag = scrotum), 阴毛 (yin + hair = pubic hair), 阴唇 (yin + lips = labium), 阴蒂 (yin + stalk = clitoris), and so on. And collectively, the male and female external genitalia are called 男阴 and 女阴, respectively.

There is also another set of Chinese characters which can be used to denote the external genitalia. However, these characters are less well known in their writte…