An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Kongzi jiayu 孔子家語

Jul 24, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Kongzi jiayu 孔子家語 "School Sayings of Confucius" is a collection of statements by Confucius compiled during the Wei period 曹魏 (220-265) by Wang Su 王肅 (195-256 CE).

The 10-juan long book was written as a kind of supplement to the "Confucian Analects" Lunyu 論語. Wang Su was an expert in the Confucian Classics and commentaries on them. The Kongzi jiayu also contains textual material on rituals, like marriage, funeral, offering and temple rites described or mentioned in books like the Lunyu, Zuozhuan 左傳, Guoyu 國語, Xunzi 荀子 and Da Dai Liji 大戴禮記. Wang directly associated these rituals with the name of Confucius and served himself of these sources to attack the eminent commentator Zheng Xuan 鄭玄, who had gained a preeminent status as interpreter of the meaning of Confucian texts.

It can be seen in many quotations that Wang Su intentionally ascribed the statements of ancient texts to Confucian persons or Confucius himself, in order to prove the wrongness of Zheng's theories. Wang affirmed to have been supported by Confucius' descendant Kong Meng 孔猛 in his novel, but 'correct' interpretation. Wang Su's arguments against Zheng Xuan were also assembled in his book Shengzhenglun 聖證論, which is only preserved in fragments. The teachings of Wang (Wangxue 王學) were at the time seen as a counterpart to the teachings of Zheng (Zhengxue 鄭學).

Inspite of its ideological purpose, the Kongzi jiayu has preserved some sources otherwise long since lost. The imperial bibliography Yiwenzhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書 lists a book called Kongzi jiayu, with a length of 27 juan. The commentary says that it was compiled by disciples of Confucius. It was lost at the end of the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE), and was virtually superseded by Wang Su's book, in spite of the improper intentions of this author.

Even Wang's fabricated "version" was rarely available during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), and the commentator He Mengchun 何孟春 (1474-1536) conceded that he had never seen a complete "original" version. There was a version in the library of a certain Master Xu 徐 from Fujian, and a version in the hands of Mao Jin 毛晉 (1599-1659). In the Xu version, which is lost today, quite a few pages were missing, and the text of both versions was different.

During the Qing period 清 (1644-1911), Sun Zhizu 孫志祖 (1737-1801) wrote a commentary, the Jiayu shuzheng 家語疏證.

The Kongzi jiayu is included in the series Baizi quanshu 百子全書, Ershierzi 二十二子 and Sibu beiyao 四部備要. In 1990 and 1991, the Shanghai guji Press 上海古籍出版社 published reprints of the Ming version, which was in turn based on a Song-period print.

The Kongzi jiayu has been partially translated by Robert Paul Kramers (1950), K'ung Tzu Chia Yu: The School Sayings of Confucius (Leiden: Brill).

Table 1. Contents of the Kongzi jiayu 孔子家語
1. 相魯 Xiang Lu Being councillor in Lu
2. 始誅 Shizhu First punishment
3. 王言解 Wangyan Royal words explained
4. 大昏解 Dahun Explanation of the great marriage rite
5. 儒行解 Ruxing The conduct of a Confucian explained
6. 問禮 Wenli Questioning about the rites
7. 五儀解 Wuyi Explanation of the five grades
8. 觀思 Guansi Giving rein to thoughts
9. 三恕 Sanxu Three ways of reciprocity
10. 好生 Haosheng Loving life
11. 觀周 Guan Zhou Looking at the Duke of Zhou
12. 弟子行 Dizixing The comportment of disciples
13. 賢君 Xianjun Worthies and rulers
14. 辯政 Bianzheng Disputes about politics
15. 六本 Liuti The six roots
16. 辯物 Bianwu Disputes about things
17. 哀公問政 Aigong wen zheng Duke Ai asked about government
18. 顏回 Yan Hui Disciple Yan Hui
19. 子路初見 Zilu chu jian The first audience of Disciple Zilu
20. 在厄 Zai wei In danger
21. 入官 Ruguan Entering office
22. 困誓 Kunshi Oaths in difficulties
23. 五帝德 Wudide The virtues of the Five Emperors
24. 五帝 Wudi The Five Emperors
25. 執轡 Zhipei Holding the reins
26. 本命解 Benxing Explanation to the proper fate
27. 論禮 Lunli About rituals
28. 觀鄉射 Guanxiangshe Regarding the district archery contest
29. 郊問 Jiaowen Questions to the suburban sacrifice
30. 五刑解 Wuxing Explanation of the five punishments
31. 刑政 Xingzheng The politics of punishment
32. 禮運 Liyun The conveyance of rites
33. 冠頌 Guansong A hymn for the capping ceremony
34. 廟制 Miaozhi The procedures in the ancestral temple
35. 辯樂解 Bianyue Explanation to "Disputes about music"
36. 問玉 Wenyu Questions to jade
37. 屈節解 Qujie Explanation to "Withdrawal in sparingness"
38. 七十二弟子解 Qishier dizi Explanation to the "Seventy-two Disciples"
39. 本姓解 Benxing Explanation to the "Proper family name"
40. 終記解 Zhongji Explanation to the "Records of the end"
41. 正論解 Zhenglun Explanation to "Discussions about correctness"
42. 曲禮子貢問 Quli Zigong wen Zigong's questions about the summary of the rites
43. 子貢問 Zigong wen Disciple Zigong's questions
44. 公西赤問 Gongxi Chi wen The questions of Disciple Gongxi Chi
Kramers, R.P. (1993). "K‘ung tzu chia yü", in Michael Loewe, ed. Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide (Berkeley: Society for the Study of Early China/Institute of East Asian Studies), 258-262.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1547.