Talk:Nestorian Stele

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Assyrian Christian Stele is the historically correct name for what was formerly and improperly called the Nestorian Stele. Gubernatoria (talk) 23:58, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Actually, it's not, and you cite no source for that, on top of moving it improperly and filling it with typographic errors. Chris (クリス • フィッチ) (talk) 05:52, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Actually it is, see Assyrian Church of the East in China for latest unbiassed scholarship. Gubernatoria (talk) 02:16, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

That's still not a reference, provide a website that links to the name. Scholarship most commonly refers to it as the Nestorian Stele, even if it's not technically correct. Chris (クリス • フィッチ) (talk) 02:20, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Scholarship before 1988 might have referred to it as Nestorian Stele, and scholarship which is not aware of the recent better understanding of the Assyrian Church of the East might still refer to it by that pejorative name. But recent better scholarship refers to it more correctly, not as Nestorian Stele, although no doubt, the pejorative name will still be used for another 100 years or so. Gubernatoria (talk) 02:44, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Still not a website that can be easily referenced for those without an English-language website nearby, but you're getting warmer. Chris (クリス • フィッチ) (talk) 02:55, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

I have removed the merger banner and made Assyrian Christian Stele a redirect. I obtained a copy of the book Gubernatoria keep citing (Light from the East: A Symposium on the Oriental Orthodox and Assyrian Churches, edited by Henry Hill), in which the editor himself refers to the stele in question as the "Nestorian Tablet" (p.108). As such, without any source actually calling the object the Assyrian Christian Stele/Tablet/Stone, renaming it as such would be clear WP:OR. Otebig (talk) 17:49, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was Withdrawn Aymatth2 (talk) 20:03, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

There has been some debate over the correct title for this article. On the one hand, "Nestorian Stele" is the common term used by Western academics. On the other, the Assyrian Church of the East, whose members created the Stele, considers that the term is both inaccurate and pejorative. The suggested new title is more accurate and neutral. The previous name will of course redirect to the longer formal name Aymatth2 (talk) 02:06, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

That is the formal Chinese name - makes sense. Otebig (talk) 03:42, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
I am not convinced about the need to rename the article at all. If "Nestorian Stele" is the name most widely used then "Nestorian Stele" should be the name of the article. Anybody who finds that offensive needs to take it up with the academic community who use that name, not with Wikipedia. It is not for us to rename everything in the world which has a name with undesirable baggage or misguided coinage. There must be many such things, the Elgin marbles spring to mind, and it should also be noted that a great many of the western artistic movements like Cubism, Fauvism and Impressionism all take their names from unflattering descriptions coined by their critics. We can't rename things pro-actively but we can rename them if the wider world reaches a consensus that there is a new name.
That said, if we do have a genuine reason to rename the article, Memorial of the Propagation in China of the Luminous Religion from Daqin seems an unnecessarily long and unwieldy name to me. It seems to be an excessively literal translation. Do we have any indication that "Luminous Religion" is even understood to mean Christian in English? I am wondering if something simpler might not work just as well: Daqin Stele perhaps? --DanielRigal (talk) 13:00, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
  • The first paragraph of the article says that the proposed name is the correct formal name, and that the tag "Nestorian" is inaccurate. At present, the long name redirects to the inaccurate and (to some) derogatory short name. After the move, the short name would redirect to the long name, as with Red Indian. No scholar would dispute the change, and few people other than scholars would look for the article. There is no impact on accessibility, no invention of a new name, but the change would avoid needless offense. Aymatth2 (talk) 13:51, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
The "correct formal name" of the statue of liberty is "Liberty Enlightening the World", but the article is still at Statue of Liberty... AnonMoos (talk) 14:19, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
I suppose the correct formal name is "Statue de la Liberté éclairant le monde", commonly contracted to "Statue de la Liberté". Neither form would offend anyone. Aymatth2 (talk) 14:29, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
However, the article is still at Statue of Liberty, and if you proposed either of those two moves at Talk:Statue of Liberty, you probably wouldn't get too far. AnonMoos (talk) 15:00, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
In English academic books the name Xi'an Stele is sometimes used - neutral, yet short. Nesotrian is the most commonly used term, without question, though several scholars will point out how it is an inaccurate term (even as they themselves use it). It seems most academics either don't care about the naming issue, or believe Nestorian is wrong but are not (as of yet) directly challenging the term in connection with the stele. In spite of it not being used in English texts that much, the one thing the term "Memorial of the Propagation in China of the Luminous Religion from Daqin" does have going for it is that it is the title written on the stele itself. Basically, there's an argument to me made for either term - both can make sense, and I think both could be supported or argued against per WP:NAME..."Nestorian is most common, use it - Nestorian is potentially POV, as attested to in a few (but not a majority of) academic works, so don't use it". I'm torn, honestly. Otebig (talk) 17:05, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
  • I don't think "Xi'an Stele" is the correct name. This stele is one of thousands housed in the Stele Forest in Xi'an. Aymatth2 (talk) 18:37, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
Call it what English scholars call it. Above all, don't invent a name; but please don't call by a translation of the formal Chinese title; the next scholar to mention that title will translate it slightly differently, but enough that it will be a different phrase. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:30, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
  • My concern is that the term is inaccurate and offensive to members of the Assyrian Church of the East, who created the Stele. Where Nestorius made a sharp distinction between the human and divine aspects of Christ, which was considered heretical by Orthodox Christians, Babai the Great considered that the two were inextricably intermingled and that there were no real doctrinal differences between the Assyrian and Orthodox churches. The difference in views between Nestorius and Babai may seem subtle, but people have died for such differences. To call an Eastern Assyrian Christian a "Nestorian" is an insult, one that the western churches made repeatedly but that we do not have to perpetuate. I am not suggesting that the term "Nestorian Stele" be purged from Wikipedia, only that it be made a redirect to an article with a more accurate and neutral title. Why would we consciously use a derogatory term as the main title? Aymatth2 (talk) 18:37, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
Some Ukrainians seem to feel that the name "Kiev" is Russian and an insult to Ukrainians, but the article is still at Kiev... AnonMoos (talk) 10:41, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
  • I'd oppose that move, as it seems the new name would be something completely invented by Wikipedia. I'm not able to find any previous mention of the name Memorial of the Propagation in China of the Luminous Religion from Daqin in English in print. --Delirium (talk) 06:27, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
  • See [1] [2] [3]. The proposed article title is a literal translation of the title of the Stele, given in 9 large characters at the top of the stone. A bit of a mouthful, but most people would get to the article through a link or by typing "nestorian stele" Aymatth2 (talk) 13:38, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
  • I oppose that move. The page should be titled according to the most common usage in published works, which is currently the Nestorian Stele. We can't just invent a translation and then declare it the proper name. If so, we could rename the article on Singapore to Lion City. As noted above there are numerous examples of objects where the common name in english is a misnomer of some kind, but in general, the most commonly used name is used. LK (talk) 14:38, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Something tells me there is not going to be a consensus to move. :~) I don't feel that strongly about it. I am withdrawing the request. Aymatth2 (talk) 20:01, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

"Scientific analysis"[edit]

Has the stone ever been subjected to scientific analysis - with regard to dating etc ? would be good to include that information if so Monowiki (talk) 21:18, 20 November 2009 (UTC)

Mungello (1989) had summarized the debate about the stele, and his account implies (to me) that Henri Havret (ca. 1900) had pretty much said the last word about the stele's authenticity. Other people also mention a book by Pelliot (d. 1945). There well may have been more research since (although, I guess more of the textual/paleographic type, rather than "physical" - after all, you can't do radiocarbon analysis on a stone tablet), but a cursory web search (in English) doesn't uncover anything. Vmenkov (talk) 01:43, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

Agree : radiocarbon-dating not applicable to limestone(sedimentary rock of course). Monowiki (talk) 15:40, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

Talking of scientific methods - This sentence in the main article seems to have a strangely inverted logic:???

// In the assessment of modern scholars (e.g., David E. Mungello), there is no scientific or historical evidence to support the claims of the non-authenticity of the stele. //

Well, that was my impression of what Mungello (1989) said in connection with the stele. In my view, he was not emphasizing arguments for the authenticity of the stele, but basically was saying that the people who were doubting its authenticity were bullshitting: they hated Jesuits, so naturally they claimed that the stele, thought by them as a "Jesuit discovery", was a fake, even though their arguments against the inscription's authenticity did not hold the water. But of course the focus of Mungello's book was very much on the Jesuits, and not on the stele, so whoever wants to expand on the pro-authenticity side of the debate would probably need to actually get Havret's or Pelliot's books. Their text is not presently available on Google Books, but maybe Keevak (2008) has a discussion - i did not read his book either, beyond a few snippets. Vmenkov (talk) 00:14, 22 November 2009 (UTC)


It might be nice to provide a breakdown of the main Chinese characters (at least for the heading) to provide more information about the English(etc) translation. Monowiki (talk) 21:20, 20 November 2009 (UTC)

Athanasius Kircher did it... :-) Vmenkov (talk) 01:43, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

~~ I see the translation is there, but I meant in more detail - for instance (with my limited knowledge) I can pick out 'centre' (top-left), 'big' (top-right) and 'go' (middle-bottom) [I'm aware that symbols have more than one meaning and that combinations of symbols may not necessarily correlate with the atmomic symbol's meaning). I was just suprised that the usual symbol for 'bright' doesn't appear to be in there (moon + sun)...

Could somebody provide an additional 'just for interest' section concentrating on the symbols' meaning I wonder ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Monowiki (talkcontribs) 16:21, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

Here's the work of Boym and his Chinese collaborators, published in Kircher's China Illustrata that I was talking about: Every character has an index, which refers to a gloss elsewhere in the text (not in this picture, but probably a scan of China Illustrata in its entirety is available somewhere too). Vmenkov (talk) 06:00, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
And here's a link to the full book ; the glosses you want are in pp. 13-28. Each character is numbered in the original, transcription, and trnaslation. So if your Latin is better than your Chinese, and the 16th-century transcription (not quite Pinyin...) does not daunt you, you're all set. There should be translations of Kircher's books into other languages elsewhere too, of course. Vmenkov (talk) 06:19, 10 January 2010 (UTC)