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SHANGDI (Chinese : 上帝; pinyin : Shàngdì; Wade–Giles : Shang Ti), also written simply as DI (Chinese : 帝; pinyin : Dì; Wade–Giles : Ti; " Deity
Deity
", " Emperor
Emperor
"), is the Chinese term for "Supreme Deity" or "Highest Deity" in the theology of the classical texts , especially deriving from Shang theology and finding an equivalent in the later Tian
Tian
("Heaven" or "Great Whole") of Zhou theology.

Although in Chinese religion the usage of "Tian" to refer to the absolute God
God
of the universe is predominant, "Shangdi" continues to be used in a variety of traditions, including certain philosophical schools , certain strains of Confucianism
Confucianism
, some Chinese salvationist religions (notably Yiguandao
Yiguandao
) and Chinese Protestant Christianity . In addition, it is common to use such term among contemporary and secular Chinese, Hong Kong, and Taiwanese societies typically for a singular universal deity and a non-religion translation for the God
God
in Christianity.

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology

* 2 History

* 2.1 Shang dynasty
Shang dynasty
* 2.2 Zhou dynasty
Zhou dynasty
* 2.3 Han dynasty
Han dynasty

* 3 Identification

* 3.1 The Shang progenitor * 3.2 Shangdi
Shangdi
as the celestial pole

* 3.3 Contemporary Confucianism
Confucianism

* 3.3.1 Worship

* 3.4 Conflation with Concept of Singular Universal God
God

* 4 See also

* 4.1 Other * 4.2 Comparation

* 5 Notes

* 6 References

* 6.1 Citations * 6.2 Sources

ETYMOLOGY

Shang oracular script graphs for 帝 Dì, the supreme God as the celestial pole .

"Shang Di" is the pinyin romanization of two Chinese characters
Chinese characters
. The first – 上, Shàng – means "high", "highest", "first", "primordial"; the second – 帝, Dì – is typically considered as a short hand for huangdi (皇帝)in modern Chinese, the title of the emperors of China
China
first employed by Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang
, and is usually translated as "emperor". The word itself is derived from Three "Huang" and Five "Di" , including Yellow Emperor
Emperor
(Huangdi 黃帝), the mythological originator of the Chinese civilization and the ancestor of the Chinese race. However, 帝 refers to the High God
God
of Shang, thus means "deity" (manifested god) , similar to "pharaoh" in concept. Thus, the name Shangdi
Shangdi
should be translated as "Highest Deity", but also have the implied meaning of "Primordial Deity" or "First Deity" in Classical Chinese. The deity preceded the title and the emperors of China
China
were named after him in their role as Tianzi , the sons of Heaven.

HISTORY

SHANG DYNASTY

Oracle bone script , the earliest known form of Chinese .

The earliest references to Shangdi
Shangdi
are found in oracle bone inscriptions of the Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
in the 2nd millennium BC, although the later work Classic of History claims yearly sacrifices were made to him by Emperor
Emperor
Shun , even before the Xia Dynasty .

Shangdi
Shangdi
was regarded as the ultimate spiritual power by the ruling elite of the Huaxia during the Shang dynasty
Shang dynasty
: he was believed to control victory in battle, success or failure of harvests, weather conditions such as the floods of the Yellow River
Yellow River
, and the fate of the kingdom. Shangdi
Shangdi
seems to have ruled a hierarchy of other gods controlling nature, as well as the spirits of the deceased . These ideas were later mirrored or carried on by the Taoist Jade Emperor
Emperor
and his celestial bureaucracy .

Shangdi
Shangdi
was probably more transcendental than immanent , only working through lesser gods. Shangdi
Shangdi
was considered too distant to be worshiped directly by ordinary mortals. Instead, the Shang kings proclaimed that Shangdi
Shangdi
had made himself accessible through the souls of their royal ancestors, both in the legendary past and in recent generations as the departed Shang kings joined him in the afterlife. The emperors could thus successfully entreat Shangdi
Shangdi
directly. Many of the oracle bone inscriptions record these petitions, usually praying for rain but also seeking approval from Shangdi
Shangdi
for state action.

ZHOU DYNASTY

In the later Shang and Zhou dynasties , Shangdi
Shangdi
was conflated with Heaven (天, Tiān ). The Duke of Zhou justified his clan\'s usurpation through the concept of the Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven
, which proposed that the protection of Shangdi
Shangdi
was not connected to their clan membership but by their just governance. Shangdi
Shangdi
was not just a tribal but instead an unambiguously good moral force, exercising its power according to exacting standards. It could thus be lost and even "inherited" by a new dynasty, provided they upheld the proper rituals.

Nonetheless, the connection of many rituals with the Shang clan meant that Shang nobles continued to rule several locations (despite their rebellions) and to serve as court advisors and priests. The Duke of Zhou even created an entire ceremonial city along strict cosmological principals to house the Shang aristocracy and the nine tripods representing Huaxia sovereignty; the Shang were then charged with maintaining the Rites of Zhou
Rites of Zhou
. Likewise, the Shang's lesser houses, the shi knightly class , developed directly into the learned Confucian gentry and scholars who advised the Zhou rulers on courtly etiquette and ceremony. The Confucian classics carried on and ordered the earlier traditions, including the worship of Shangdi. All of them include references:

Occurrences of Shangdi
Shangdi
in the Five Classics CHINESE NAME PINYIN ENGLISH NAME OCCURRENCES

書經 Shujing
Shujing
Classic of History 32 times

詩經 Shijing Classic of Poetry
Classic of Poetry
24 times

禮記 Liji Classic of Rites 20 times

春秋 Chunqiu Spring and Autumn Annals
Spring and Autumn Annals
8 times

易經 Yijing Classic of Changes
Classic of Changes
2 times

The Four Books mention Shangdi
Shangdi
as well but, as it is a later compilation, the references are much more sparse and abstract. Shangdi appears most commonly in earlier works: this pattern may reflect increasing rationalization of Shangdi
Shangdi
over time, the shift from a known and arbitrary tribal god to a more abstract and philosophical concept, or his conflation and absorption by other deities.

HAN DYNASTY

By the time of the Han dynasty
Han dynasty
, the influential Confucian scholar Zheng Xuan glossed: " Shangdi
Shangdi
is another name for Heaven ". Dong Zhongshu said: "Heaven is the ultimate authority, the king of gods who should be admired by the king".

In later eras, he was commonly known by the name "Heavenly Ruling Highest Deity" (皇天上帝, Huángtiān Shàngdì) and, in this usage, he is especially conflated with the Taoist Jade Emperor
Emperor
.

IDENTIFICATION

Further information: Chinese theology

THE SHANG PROGENITOR

In Shang sources, Di is already described as the supreme ordainer of the events which occur in nature, such as wind, lightning and thunder, and in human affairs and politics. All the gods of nature are conceived as his envoys or manifestations. Shang sources also attest his cosmological Five Ministries . Di, or Tian, as later texts explain, did not receive cult for being too remote for living humans to sacrifice to directly. Instead, an intermediary such as an ancestor was necessary to convey to Di the offerings of the living.

According to some prominent scholars, including Guo Moruo, Shangdi was originally identical to Ku (or Kui) or Diku (" Divus Ku"), the progenitor (first ancestor) of the Zi (子) lineage, the founders of the Shang dynasty, attested in the Shiji
Shiji
and other texts. According to this interpretation, this identification had profound political implications, because it meant that the earthly Shang kings were themselves by birth aspects of divinity.

Further evidence from Shang sources suggests that there wasn't a complete identification between the two, as Di controls spirits of nature, while Kui does not; Di is frequently pictured sending down "approvals", while Kui is never so pictured; and Kui received cult, while Di did not. Moreover, Kui is frequently appealed in "horizontal" relationship with other powers, undermining any portrait of him as the apex of the pantheon.

SHANGDI AS THE CELESTIAL POLE

David Pankenier has studied the astral connections of Shangdi, drawing on a view that interest in the sky was a focal character of the religious practices of the Shang, but also of the earlier Xia and Erlitou cultures . Especially intriguing is the fact that palatial and ceremonial structures of these cultures were carefully aligned to the celestial pole and the procession of pole stars . Pankenier notes that the true celestial pole lies in a sky template which is vacant of significant stars, and that the various pole stars are those nearest to this vacant apex which is of crucial importance.

He illustrates how the Shang oracular script for Di can be projected on the north pole template of the ancient sky in such a way that its extremity points correspond with the visible star, while the intersection of the linear axes at the centre will map to the vacant celestial pole. Pankenier argues that the supreme Di was identified with the celestial pole, an idea familiar in later stages of Chinese religion, linking with the Tàiyī 太一 ("Great One") fully documented as early as the 4th century BCE.

The interpretation of Shangdi
Shangdi
as the celestial pole, Taiyi and as Ku the progenitor of the Shang is not contradictory. Feng Shi argues that Ku and Di are indeed identical. The Shang probably deliberately identified their ancestor with a universal god recognized in different regions and local cultures in order to legitimize their power.

CONTEMPORARY CONFUCIANISM

Contemporary Confucian theologians have emphasised differences between the Confucian idea of Shangdi, conceived as both transcendent and immanent , and act only as a governor of the world, and the Christian idea of God, which they conceived contrary to those of Christian as a deity that is completely otherwordly (transcendent) and is merely a creator of the world.

Worship

Sacred altar at the Temple of Heaven , Beijing
Beijing

As mentioned above, sacrifices offered to Shangdi
Shangdi
by the king are claimed by traditional Chinese histories to predate the Xia dynasty. The surviving archaeological record shows that by the Shang, the shoulder blades of sacrificed oxen were used to send questions or communication through fire and smoke to the divine realm, a practice known as scapulimancy . The heat would cause the bones to crack and royal diviners would interpret the marks as Shangdi's response to the king. Inscriptions used for divination were buried into special orderly pits, while those that were for practice or records were buried in common middens after use.

Under Shangdi
Shangdi
or his later names, the deity received sacrifices from the ruler of China
China
in every Chinese dynasty annually at a great Temple of Heaven in the imperial capital. Following the principles of Chinese geomancy , this would always be located in the southern quarter of the city. During the ritual, a completely healthy bull would be slaughtered and presented as an animal sacrifice to Shangdi. The Book of Rites states the sacrifice should occur on the "longest day " on a round-mound altar. The altar would have three tiers: the highest for Shangdi
Shangdi
and the Son of Heaven ; the second-highest for the sun and moon; and the lowest for the natural gods such as the stars, clouds, rain, wind, and thunder.

It is important to note that Shangdi
Shangdi
is never represented with either images or idols. Instead, in the center building of the Temple of Heaven, in a structure called the "Imperial Vault of Heaven", a "spirit tablet" (神位, shénwèi) inscribed with the name of Shangdi is stored on the throne, Huangtian Shangdi
Shangdi
(皇天上帝). During an annual sacrifice, the emperor would carry these tablets to the north part of the Temple of Heaven, a place called the "Prayer Hall For Good Harvests", and place them on that throne.

CONFLATION WITH CONCEPT OF SINGULAR UNIVERSAL GOD

See also: Chinese Rites controversy , Chinese names for the God
God
of Abrahamic religions , and Unknown God
God

It was during Ming and Qing dynasty, when Roman Catholicism was introduced by Jesuit
Jesuit
Priest Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci
, that the idea of "Shangdi" started to be applied to the Christian conception of God
God
.

While initially he utilized the term Tianzhu, Ricci gradually changed the translation into "Shangdi" instead. His usage of Shangdi
Shangdi
was contested by Confucians, as they believed that the concept of Tian
Tian
and "Shangdi" is different from that of Christian's God: Zhōng Shǐ-shēng, through his books, stated that Shangdi
Shangdi
only governs, while Christian's God
God
is a creator, and thus differ. Ricci's translation also invited the displeasure of Dominicans and that of the Roman Curia; On March 19, 1715, Pope Clement XI
Pope Clement XI
released the Edict Ex Illa Die, stating that Catholics
Catholics
must use "Tianzhu" instead of "Shangdi" for Christianity's God.

When Protestantism
Protestantism
entered China
China
in the mid of 19th century, the Protestant missionaries also encountered a similar issue; some preferred the term "Shangdi", while some preferred the term Shen (god). A conference held in 1877 in Shanghai, discussing the translation issue, also believed that "Shangdi" of Confucianism
Confucianism
and the Christian concept of God
God
are different in nature.

However, by the 20th century, most British missionaries, some Catholics
Catholics
, Chinese Orthodox Christians , and Evangelicals
Evangelicals
preferred Shangdi
Shangdi
as a connection with Chinese native monotheism with some further the argument by linking it with the unknown god as described in bible passage of Acts 17:23-31. Catholics
Catholics
preferred to avoid it, due to compromises with the local authority in order to do their missions, as well as fear such translation may associate the Christian God
God
to Chinese polytheism.

Nowadays, through the secular Chinese-language media, the Chinese word of "Shangdi" and "Tian" are frequently used to as a translation for the singular universal deity with minimal religious attachment to the Christian idea of God, while Confucians and intellectuals in contemporary China
China
and Taiwan attempt to realign the term to its original meaning. The Catholics
Catholics
officially use the term Tianzhu (Chinese: 天主, Tiānzhǔ), lit. "The Lord of Heaven", while Evangelicals
Evangelicals
typically utilize Shangdi
Shangdi
(上帝).

SEE ALSO

* Chinese rites controversy * Names of God
God
* Names of God
God
in China
China
* Religion in China
China
* Tianzhu

OTHER

* Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion
* Chinese mythology * Shen * Tian
Tian
* Tao
Tao
* Haneullim * Amenominakanushi * Taiyi Tianzun * Hongjun Laozu

COMPARATION

* Allah
Allah
* Brahma
Brahma
* Ishvara
Ishvara

NOTES

* ^ For instance, the Classic of History records the Duke of Zhou building an altar in the southern part of Luo. * ^ Although the Duke of Zhou is presented as sacrificing two.

REFERENCES

CITATIONS

* ^ Eno (2008) , p. 70. * ^ A B Chang (2000) . * ^ A B Huang (2007) , p. 457. * ^ http://www.thenewslens.com/post/313239/ * ^ A B Eno (2008) , p. 74. * ^ A B Zhao, Yanxia. Chinese Religion: A Contextual Approach. 2010. p. 154 * ^ Jeaneane D. Fowler, Merv Fowler, 2008, Chinese religions: beliefs and practices, Sussex Academic Press. * ^ Wu, 8 * ^ Wu, 173 * ^ "Shangdi", Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011 . * ^ Book of Documents . * ^ "Chinese Philosophy". China
China
Renmin Univ., 2006. * ^ The Book of Documents says: "August Heaven has no partisan affections: it supports only the virtuous". * ^ The Zuo Zhuan
Zuo Zhuan
says: "Unless one is virtuous, the people will not be in harmony and the spirits will not partake of one's offerings. What the spirits are attracted to is one's virtue". * ^ Dong Zhongshu. Chunqiu Fanlu. * ^ Eno (2008) , p. 71. * ^ A B Eno (2008) , p. 72. * ^ A B Eno (2008) , p. 73. * ^ Eno (2008) , pp. 73-74. * ^ Eno (2008) , p. 75. * ^ Zhōng Shǐ-shēng, 天学初征: "天是「統御世間、主善罰惡之天,即《詩》、《易》、《中庸》所稱上帝是也」,但這個主宰之天只是「治世,而非生世,譬如帝王,但治民而非生民也」" * ^ Xu Yahui. Caltonhill, Mark & al., trans. Ancient Chinese Writing: Oracle Bone Inscriptions from the Ruins of Yin. Academia Sinica . National Palace Museum
National Palace Museum
(Taipei), 2002. Govt. Publ. No. 1009100250. * ^ "JSDJ". * ^ “上帝給人雙目、雙耳、雙手、雙足,欲兩友相助,方爲事有成矣。”《交友論》,1595 * ^ “上帝者,生物原始,宰物本主也。”《二十五言》,1599 * ^ 天学初征 * ^ 天学再征 * ^ 程小娟:《God的汉译史——争论、接受与启示》,社会科学文献出版社,2013年 * ^ 艾約瑟譯《各省教師集議記略》,載李天綱編校《萬國公報文選》,北京:生活·讀書·新知三聯書店,1998年,第22頁。 * ^ Chinese Orthodox Church * ^ Legge, James , The Religions of China, Hodder and Stoughton, 1880, p24-25: "'He sacrificed specifically, but with the ordinary forms, to ShangTi' -that is, we have seen, to God." * ^ http://www.rlhymersjr.com/Online_Sermons_Chinese/2012/092912PM_TheUnknownGod.html * ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=GzimxWlnh8YC&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=%E6%9C%AA%E8%AD%98%E4%B9%8B%E7%A5%9E%E4%B8%8A%E5%B8%9D&source=bl&ots=DxRsF2XPfv&sig=zC3h5h_AAAJmTbFBapc1l39s_rg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj4ipKq4qrMAhUMsIMKHZ1hBHcQ6AEIRjAG#v=onepage&q=%E6%9C%AA%E8%AD%98%E4%B9%8B%E7%A5%9E%E4%B8%8A%E5%B8%9D&f=false * ^ Lee, Archie CC (Oct 2005), God\'s Asian Names: Rendering the Biblical God
God
in Chinese, SBL Forum

SOURCES

Look up 上帝 in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

* Chang, Ruth H. (2000). "Understanding Di and Tian: Deity
Deity
and Heaven from Shang to Tang Dynasties" (PDF). Sino-Platonic Papers . Victor H. Mair (108). ISSN 2157-9679 . * Eno, Robert (2008), "Shang State Religion and the Pantheon of the Oracle Texts", in Lagerwey, John; Kalinowski, Marc, Early Chinese Religion: Part One: Shang Through Han (1250 BC-220 AD), Early Chinese Religion, Brill, pp. 41–102, ISBN 9004168354 * Huang, Yong (2007). "Confucian Theology: Three Models". Religion Compass. Blackwell. 1 (4): 455–478. ISSN 2157-9679 . doi :10.1111/j.1749-8171.2007.00032.x . * Creel, Herrlee G. , The Origins of Statecraft in China. ISBN 0-226-12043-0 * Wu, K. C. (1982). The Chinese Heritage. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-54475X .

* v * t * e

Names of God
God

In Christianity • In Hinduism • In Islam • In Judaism • In Zoroastrianism • In Chinese language
Chinese language

* Adonai * Ahura Mazda * Allah
Allah
* Brahman
Brahman
* Cao Đài
Cao Đài
* Elohim * Elyon * El Shaddai * Great Spirit * Haneullim * Hu * I Am that I Am * Ik Onkar * Ishvara
Ishvara
* Jah
Jah
* Khuda * The Lord * Ngai * Olodumare * The One * Parvardigar * Shangdi * Svayam Bhagavan * Tianzhu * Waheguru

* YHWH

* Jehovah
Jehovah
* Yahweh
Yahweh

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Shangdi
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