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The Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions: The Legacy of the Jewish Community in Ancient China Paperback – January 6, 2006


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The Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions: The Legacy of the Jewish Community in Ancient China + The Jews of Kaifeng, China: History, Culture, and Religion
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (January 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595373402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595373406
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 5.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,611,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tiberiu Weisz has over 30 years of business and academic experience in Chinese Studies and in China. He is fluent in Chinese and Hebrew, taught Hebrew History and Chinese Religion at local colleges. He has published articles and translated a book into Chinese. Currently he is teaching advance Chinese. He lives with his wife and family in Minnesota.

More About the Author

I was born in Romania, immigrated to Israel, served in the Israeli Defense Forces. I graduated from Oberlin College, Ohio and received my Master Degree from the U. Minnesota (US.) I taught cultural studies & languages (Chinese and Japanese) and worked as an in-house consultant for a telecom with projects worldwide.
As teacher of Chinese philosophy and religion, I researched the relationship between Biblical Judaism and ancient China, which led me to translate and annotate the Chinese stela a.k.a "Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions". THe book shows that the Chinese Jews adhered to a Judaism that was practiced prior to the Babylonian exile (6th century BCE).Historically these stela are equal in importance to the Geniza and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
"The Covenant and the Mandate of Heaven" is my second book and deals with the questions: "Is Judaism the yang to China's yin? It was reviewed by Prof. Vera Schwarcz, Wesleyan University "simply put, a bold and visionary book...Weisz has raised the bar for substantial cultural dialogue."(Points East vol 23, Jul 2008, pg14).
THe Jewish Journal Boston North (Sept 25, 2008) wrote: ... a very readable sometimes dizzying journey from Biblical times through Antiquity to Modernity and somehow improbable, it works."

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on November 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
Tiberiu Weisz has written an interesting book about the stone inscriptions of the Kaifeng Jews that is not without some problems, both at the level of terminology, and his wider theories of the Jewish dispersion.

There is no doubt that a fresh English translation of the inscriptions is necessary. Weisz provides one, and shows us some of the problems with White's translation of some forty years ago.

Weisz main contention is that the Kaifeng Jews were not recent arrivals in China, but returning. He rests this theory on one particular word in one of the stone inscriptions. This is fine in and of itself, but it has two problems. First, one must trust that the stone inscriptions are pure history, and not the pious fictions of the Kaifeng Jewish community. Second, you must posit a much earlier date for the entry of Jews into China, and there is simply no evidence of this at all.

To this end, Weisz uses the term "Israelite" a great deal, a specific term denoting the tribal era of the history of Israel as a people. Here, he implies that Jews entered China when they were Israelites, a conclusion with no compelling evidence. He even confuses terms a great deal, using the word "Jew" and "Israelite" in the same sentence. In religious Judaism this is often the same thing, but in scholarly studies, the two terms connote two very different sets of peoples at different times.

Unfortunately, there just isn't enough rigor in this study to be convincing. The good points that Weisz makes get overshadowed by his baseless theories and sloppy use of terminology.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Beverly Friend on February 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Disparities in the translation of even one word can mark a profound difference.

Both Anglican Bishop Charles White (author of "Chinese Jews," 1942, republished in 1966) and scholar Donald Leslie (author of "The Chinese Jewish Community, a Summary," 1971) translated one of the sentences in the 1489 carved stele of the Kaifeng Jews as a comment from the Emperor to the Jewish settlers, "You have come to our China."

Tiberiu Weisz disagrees, stating that the Chinese character "gui" does not mean "come," but rather "to return." This would shift meaning considerably, moving from the historical possibility that the Jews had arrived in China at that particular historic time (in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), to the possibility that they had arrived long before and were now returning. (Page 11).

This is just one of the many interesting annotations in a book intended for scholars that proves equally intriguing to laymen.

The task of translating the 1489, 1512 and 1663 carved inscriptions on the stone steles in Kaifeng, China is daunting. The language is 15th century Chinese vernacular which means no punctuation and obscure references and annotations. The material is often irreconcilable with accounts of missionaries and travelers. Inconsistencies abound. Facts can not be substantiated. Most important, the inscriptions appear to lack any trace of Judaism.

Weisz's background, his fluency in Chinese and Hebrew as well as his college teaching of Hebrew History and Chinese Religion, provides him with a new and unique approach to the subject. According to Weisz, when the Anglican Bishop originally transcribed and translated the steles into English (in the early 20th century) the results were limited by White's lack of a deeper knowledge of Judaism.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ghostexorcist on June 5, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first full-scale attempt to translate the Kaifeng stone inscriptions was done in French by the Jesuit Father Jérôme Tobar in his _Inscriptions juives de K'ai-fong-fou_ (1900). The second was done in English by Canadian Anglican Bishop William Charles White in the second volume of his three part work _Chinese Jews: A Complication of Matters Relating to the Jews of K'ai-Feng Fu_ (1942). It was based on a punctuated version of the original Classical Chinese script prepared by Chen Yuan in _A Study of the Kaifeng Israelites_ (1923). The author of the present work, Tiberiu Weisz, a retired Chinese language teacher and business consultant, felt it was time for a new translation when he found that his own reading of the inscriptions differed greatly from that of White. When finished, he noticed: "The text left an unmistaken flavor of biblical Judaism. Historical events could be corroborated with biblical literature, and entire ancient Jewish prayers were reproduced in Chinese" (p. xiii). Then began the daunting task of writing a new history for the Jews based off of this reading.

Weisz poured through historical and biblical sources trying "to cover huge gaps in [the Jews'] history" (p. xiv). He started with an important audience between the Jews and an unnamed Song Dynasty emperor mentioned in the 1489 inscription. According to White, the emperor is recorded as saying: "You have come to our China; reverence and preserve the customs of your ancestors, and hand them down at Pien-Liang (Kaifeng)" (White, _Chinese Jews_, Part II, p. 11). Weisz, however, read the emperor's words as: "You have returned..." (p. 11). He claims this discrepancy comes from a past misreading of the Chinese character 'gui' that all other scholars have since followed.
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