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Divine Incantations Scripture

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The Divine Incantations Scripture[a] is the oldest known Chinese classic text that details an apocalypse.[1]


The earliest portions of the book have been traced back to the beginning of the fifth century CE, with subsequent commentary attesting an origin in the early fourth; the book likely integrates older traditions.[2]

These traditions offered a new route to transcendence that was different from the Way of the Celestial Masters from which it branched. The Divine Incantations Scripture sought to clarify the gods are "merely the officials of the celestial bureaucracy".[3] The text was unique for the time in that it promised the aid of celestial "ghost troops" to those who upheld its teachings and acknowledged the dynamic obedience and simultaneous danger of various "daemon kings" that also existed in a fantastical version of the metaphysical world. These characteristics draw interesting parallels with the cosmic and celestial warfare depicted in the Book of Revelation from the Christian New Testament canon. The book also urges Daoists to "assiduously convert the unenlightened", and demands scriptural exclusivity when receiving the Divine Incantations Scripture.[4]


  1. ^ simplified Chinese: 太上洞渊神咒经; traditional Chinese: 太上洞淵神咒經; pinyin: Tàishàng dòngyuān shénzhòu jīng; Wade–Giles: T'ai-shang shen-chou ching; lit. 'Most High Cavernous Abyss Divine Spells Scripture'.


Works cited[edit]

  • DeBary; Bloom (1999). Sources of Chinese Tradition. Vol. 1.
  • Seiwert, Hubert Michael (2003). Popular Religious Movements and Heterodox Sects in Chinese History. ISBN 978-9004131460.