Sutra of Hearing the Messiah
The Sutra of Hearing the Messiah or Jesus Messiah Sutra (Chinese: 序聽迷詩所經; pinyin: Xùtīng Míshīsuǒ Jīng) is a Chinese language manuscript about Christian teachings from the Church of the East. It is considered to be one of the oldest of the Jesus Sutras, dated between 635 AD and 638 AD. The Sutra of Hearing the Messiah was found in Dunhuang and collected by Takakusu Junjiro.
Composed of 206 verses, the document provides a basic outline of the fundamental teachings of Christianity. It begins with twenty verses of invocation about the invisible God and to the heavenly spirits that serve him, followed by a description of humanity and the distance caused by sin and the condition of mortality. The text continues to speak of the virgin birth and the death of Jesus Christ. The manuscript is incomplete, ending abruptly and mid-verse discussing Jesus' death.
This document is thought to have been one of the early missionary devices of the Church of the East, dating around the time of Bishop Alopen, a Syriac-speaking Persian. It therefore displays a primitive use of Chinese characters to render foreign term. While some Christian words were transcribed by Chinese characters to represent its syllables, other terms were rendered using one of the main sources of religious terminology of the day, Buddhism.
Some examples of this are:
|English||Alopen's Rendering||Modern Rendering|
|Messiah||Chinese: 迷詩所; pinyin: míshīsuǒ||Chinese: 彌賽亞; pinyin: mísàiyà|
|Jesus||Chinese: 移鼠; pinyin: yíshǔ||Chinese: 耶穌; pinyin: yēsū|
|God||Chinese: 佛; pinyin: fó; literally "Buddha"||Chinese: 神; pinyin: shén|
|Holy Spirit||Chinese: 涼風; pinyin: liáng fēng; literally "cool wind"||Chinese: 聖靈; pinyin: shèng líng|
- Saeki, P. Y. (1951). The Nestorian Documents and Relics in China (2 ed.). Tokyo: The Toho bunkwa gakuin: The Academy of Oriental Culture. pp. 114–117.
- Charbonnier, Jean-Pierre (2007). Christians in China: AD 600 to 2000. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. p. 47.