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Is the ancient Chinese "Lord of the Heaven" actually referred to as "Shang Ti"? It sounds odd to me. User:kt2

  • I don't think so, either--Bellenion 13:08, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

In a sense yes, the literal meaning of Shang Di is either "Lord On High" or "Celestial Lord".

The Old Chinese "Zhandai" written here is random guess. The second syllable did not have voicing in Middle Chinese. So I deleted it. User:qrasy

Shangdi and Tian are words referring to the sky. This wiki refers those words to the god? I'm thinking of adding the present usage or alternative usage of those words. (talk) 02:13, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

==Neutrali ty== On what grounds is the neutrality of this artical being disputed? There seems to be no POV dispute going on here. That tag should be otherwise removed. Thanatosimii 23:55, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

            • it is rather to be disputed: the Chinese people of Shang dynasty????? thought the name came with the Qin, and that was much much later. Otherwise, for Di and Tian - which were different, see "Early Chinese Religion Part One: Shang through Han (1250 BC–220 AD)", editors: John Lagerwey and Marc Kalinowski, the book came out at Brill, in 2009 (guest)*****
I placed the tag because I am not sure that the "Chinese theology" section correctly stated the ancient Chinese view, but I didn't have sufficient information to myself try to state it better. --Nlu (talk) 03:54, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Thats what a 'cleanup' tag is for, not npov, seems to me... Removing the tag.

I am the original editor of this article. Regarding the "Chinese theology" section, some philosophers think there is no equivalent concept of "Being" in ancient Chinese philosophy. For example the historian of ancient Chinese philosophy A. C. Graham. (According to them "Being" is a philosophical concept perculiar to Indo-European cultures) Chinese philosophy is instead "process"-based. Therefore rather than stating that Taiji is the Ground of all beings it might be more accurate to say that Taiji is the Ground of all processes.

However, there are scholars who disagree with this view as well. For example the French sinologist and historian Jacques Gernet. According to his book A History of Chinese Civilisation, ancient Chinese philosophers did dispute issues related to "being" and "non-being", in particular the Neo-Daoists of the 3rd and 4th century AD. Therefore "being" is not a foreign concept in Chinese culture.


In order to maintain the clarity and demonstrate the reliability of each claim, please include references in a date, author, book, chapter, verse format that is consistent with the other references cited. mamgeorge 16:01, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Temple of Heaven[edit]

Temple of Heaven details should be moved to that article, with the relevant points rewritten under attributes. mamgeorge 23:31, 12 May 2006 (UTC)


Anthropomorphizing is often assumed for questions of diety in Chinese religion. This stems from the assumption that attributes of person are added to a character (for example, saying "the chair is lonely"). However, when the origin of the "person" is in question, claiming this is NOT a nuetral point of view, and not factual. If "god" is described as judgemental, kind, angry, and in heaven, than the assumption that "god" is Heaven, or that "god" is anthropomorphized is NOT correct. A factual description would recognize that "god" is described with these characteristics.

While discussing the possibility of anthropomorphizing, assuming all origins are non personal is as much of an unprovable assumption as the obverse. In Chinese history, the "nonpersonal" "appears" to be the "acquired" attribute, not the other way around. Zhou king Wen probably would not have been in agreement with Laozi view of god. An interesting twist in this depiction is the change through time: Shangdi appears to enter literature with "person traits", is later generalized as an impersonal force, and (depending on the school of teaching) reacquires "father" quailities.

Please see the relevant reference in Chinese Mythology.

mamgeorge 19:21, 23 May 2006 (UTC)


I question the statement that Shang Di was considered a Creator (originally). As far as I'm aware, ALL scholars agree that in the Shang-Zhou Dynasties, Shang Di was not a creator. The quote given from Mozi (chapter 27) does not mention Shang Di at all, but rather Heaven (Tian). Furthermore, it does not explicitly say that Heaven created the sun, moon stars, seasons, snow, rain, grains, rivers, valleys, etc. It in fact regulated (Zhi4 制) and arranged (Lie4 列) them, but not created (Sheng1 生 or Zao4 造). The Shang Dynasty oracle bone inscriptions also do not claim that (Shang) Di created anything. Bao Pu 21:53, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

BaoPu, Thank you for your comments.
1) I have questions whether Shangdi was originally considered a creator too, and some scholars suggest China is unique in not having a "creation mythology" at all. The claim that Xia/Shang/Zhou dynasty peoples believe Shangdi is THE creator (or one of many) has to be very carefully made. I do NOT believe this is an unrefutable argument, and my contributions did not intend to prevent inquiry. However, I believe it is a reasonable conclusion, and a likely one. Consider the following:
a) Shangdi is described with "personality" features (not merely anthropomorphized)
b) Shangdi (or Heaven) is (apparantly) the source of all things (I believe more eplicit statements may be made in the Wu Jing, but they should be explicitly verified)
c) Shangdi is originally distinct from Heaven
d) Shangdi is associated to Heaven, and no one really knows how
e) the concept of god changes over time
f) the concept of god becomes abstract approaching the Han period and "individuality" reasserts itself afterwards in other personages (Pangu), and moreso later in Yu Huang).
Perhaps these claims should be enumerated in the article? In any case, the point is brought out more effectively (I thought) by comparison of the dating referred to in Chinese Mythology.
2) Certainly "all scholars" do not agree with your view; any dogmatic assertion raises suspicion, including the opposite of this "thesis". Typical scholarship expresses itself in highly qualified claims, associated to contrasting disciplines, especially in literary discussions. Your view MAY reflect the general consensus of "many scholars"; however, since you did not provide any citations (which at most could only reflect a subset of scholars anyway), it is impossible to tell the scope of your opinion. (Even this talk page reflects that! See the Nuetrality example above.)
3) The point about Mozi is important, and needs developed. Mozi was a later commentator (compared to the Wu Jing references); so he reflects the Warring States period mentality. It appears to be the earliest explicit conclusions referencing a belief about creative origins. In the quoted reference, it has not been established how "Heaven" is being used by him; what is clear is where he used the term Shangdi, and his view on Heavens role.
4)The point about oracle bones is important and should be developed. I do not have a comprehensive source linking dated reference to occurances of Shangdi; I have only read that there are many references to Shangdi on them (and I would like citations to verify this!). They do not contain the volume of text that enables a literary study, but add insight by verifying dating, location, frequency of occurance, and some context for terms.
mamgeorge 16:08, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

hello Mamgeorge

re: "some scholars suggest China is unique in not having a "creation mythology" at all"

This is true, yet Warring States texts like the Daodejing, Zhuangzi and Lüshi Chunqiu tell of the origins of Heaven and earth, but no gods are involved. The Taiyi Shengshui text found at Guodian in 1993 may refer to a god Taiyi creating Heaven, but I am inclined to believe that it is not a god in this particular context. Nüwa is a goddess who was involved in creation, but I am not sure how old her myth is.
Regarding your belief that it is reasonable and likely that Shangdi was a creator, I simply cannot agree. Point (a) has nothing to do with creation or being a creator; (b) certainly needs citations (and who created Heaven? Warring States texts say Dao created all things, or rather, all things arose from the Dao.); (c)(d)(e)(f) also have nothing to do with with creation or being a creator. Please remember that I am disputing the claim that Shangdi is the creator of the universe (Heaven, Earth, the myriad things) and nothing else.
My claim that "ALL scholars" do not believe Shangdi to be a creator was overstressed. I mean that I have never heard of a single scholar who made the claim in dispute. I am rather well-read in the feild of ancient China, but am eager to learn about differing opinions (and hopefully the evidence). I certainly haven't read everything. I have never come across any evidence that Shangdi was considered the creator of the world. At least not until 1000 CE or so, which is much too late.

re: Mozi

The five classics are not considered to be all that much earlier than Mozi. The Yijing, sections of the Shijing and sections of the Shangshu most likely predating Mozi.
It seems to me that Shangdi was considered by the Shang to be a very ancient ancestor. There are oracles bones mentioning "Xia Di" - "Lower Di" - and these are believed to be deceased kings of the Shang. hence "Di" could be used to label deceased human royalty. It seems that Shangdi resided in Heaven (Shijing) and that he was in the company of other revered royal ancestors, like king Wen (Shijing). "Heaven" thus might be all of them together (in the sky). But this is another matter. You claim that "ShangDi is believed to be the Creator of the universe" and this I have yet to see ANY evidence. And your claim that "Mozi explicitly describes Shangdi as a benevolent creator" is quite misleading, since Shangdi is not used in the quote you provide.
NOTE: please read my comments as friendly conversation and not as indignant hostility. :-)
Bao Pu 23:35, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Bao Pu, Thank you for your comments, and the considerate way you made them. I was encouraged by your thoughtfulness.

First, I see that my perception of Shangdi is heavily influenced by the Chinese I know; many of them percieve him as a creator. The actual textual evidence (at least as it is presented) is weak; and I definitely see your point. I never expected to distinguish between the distinction of Shangdi as "influencer" versus Shangdi as "creator". It is, however, a fair request, and let the truth emerge.
Some comments:
1) Nuwa dates to about 350 BC; Taiyi to about 300 BC, Pangu to about 200 AD.
2) Let me reword the above points, I hope, for clarity:
a) Shangdi is described with "personality" features (not merely anthropomorphized); and originally distinct from Heaven; there is an association, but the oldest writings to not presume to elaborate on it. One of the significances of this is that he is clearly not an impersonal force. I will try to find citations for the Shangdi creation claims; until then, I will qualify those statements.
b) The concept of the god Shangdi changes over time; specifically he is "abstracted" approaching the Warring States period and "individuality" reasserts itself afterwards, possibly in other personages (Pangu during Three Kingdoms), or Yu Huang during Song Dynasty). The significance of this is in recognizing the commentators describing god were influenced by their philosophies during their times. The Shangdi of Zhou king Wen is unrecognizable to the Shangdi of later Han scholars.
It appears to me, now, that the most objective description regarding Shangdi is that a role of creator is possible. I can not find explicit references in the Wujing without additional assumptions. One association is clearly the use of "Lord on High" or "High Lord". Protestants associate this to the Biblical God. Other than the implications of the title, I do not know of other reasons for this association.
3) The argument regarding Mozi appears to be dependant on 1) his direct comments on Shangdi, and 2) his use of the term Heaven. I can not immediately clarify this. (By the way, do you know of an English copy of Mozi on the web?) Until then, I will modify those statements to reflect what can be "evidenced".
4) Thanks for the detail on the oracle bones. This presents an interesting speculation. What resource are you using for the claim?
Thanks for your correspondence,
mamgeorge 14:15, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Dear colleagues, I am delighted by the level of this discussion, which rather restores my faith in Wikipedia. My question: I am impressed to see so much reference to the learned journals but I think our scholarship must also address the arguments of Harvard's Benjamin I. Schwartz, in his standard work, The World of Thought in Ancient China. See 46-7 for his ideas about the usurping Chou Dynasty needing to conflate their god with Shang Di-- "the extreme anxiety of the spokesmen of the new dynasty to identify with the political and religious system of their predecessors." If there are arguments opposed, they should be included too. (I have added nothing to the Wikipedia page, preferring to submit it here.) Prof. G. Leonard, San Francisco State University

Nuwa, Mozi, Jiagupian[edit]

hello Mamgeorge,

Upon re-reading my last post, I still think I came across too arrogantly. Sorry. I agree completely on everything you have written on Shangdi except for the creation claim.

Re: Nüwa, some scholars like Cai Junsheng (of the Institute of Philosophy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) maintain that her myth goes back to pre-historic (Matriarchical) times. She was said to have created human beings and repaired the sky, but not created the sky and earth. There doesn't seem to be any proof though that her myth is that old.

Re: Mozi, there is an English translation by W.P. Mei at ( Note: it is old. Mo Zi clearly believed that Shangdi was a conscious anthropomorphic god. Heaven (Tian) seems to be referred to the same way, which makes me think it is a term denoting the place where Shangdi and other royal ancestors resided, and functions similarly to our Western use of "Heaven" as a term for God (e.g. "Heaven help us.") But as for Shangdi creating heaven and earth...

Re: Oracle Bones: I have been collecting references and quotes pertaining to this. Robert Eno has written a very interesting article on the use of Di in the oracle bones but the link to it doesn't seem to be working anymore. I could email it to you as a WORD file though if you are interested. Three quotes:

“The word Di first appears among the bone and tortoise shell inscriptions, used for divination, which date from the Yin or Shang dynasty (1766? – 1123? BC). On these inscriptions the word seems to be used as the name of a sacrifice [Di 禘]; it is a pictograph representing a bundle of wood, ready for an animal to be placed on it as a burnt offering. By degrees, however, by a process not unknown in other parts of the world, the name of a sacrifice seems to have been confused with the name of the divine beings sacrificed to, until Di no longer signified the sacrifice, but meant only the divine beings themselves.” China’s First Unifier by Derk Bodde p. 124-5 (Bodde references Herrlee Creel)
“For the Shang people, all of these forces [spirits, natural powers, living beings] were commanded by the high god Di 帝, who used them to determine the well-being of the Shang. Most scholars agree that Di was the supreme abstract deity in Shang theology, controlling natural powers as well as spirits … Some scholars, such as Akatsuka Kiyoshi and Ikeda Suetoshi, contend that Di originated from the ancestors of the Shang and later developed into the abstract high god of the universe. Chen Mengjia, Ito Michiharu, and Hayashi Mino, by contrast, believe that Di in early Shang was an abstract high god controlling natural forces as well as ancestors. Ito and Hayashi further suggest that such an abstract concept of Di was used to absorb and integrate the gods and spirits of many divergent groups that Shang contacted, and that it was only toward the end of the Shang period that Di was reduced to only representing only Shang ancestors. Robert Eno recently revisited the subject by arguing the Shang concept of Di was a generic or corporate term derived from its earlier function, that of denoting the ancestors of a lineage, and that the term later came to include the natural spirits and gods or conquered groups … Di, as an abstract high god, evolved through the Shang’s long process of interaction with alien groups, and that it functioned as a concept incorporating spirits of nature and alien groups in the Shang theology.” Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China by Aihe Wang 王愛和, p. 30
“According to Hu Houxuan’s research, ancestors of the Shang king ascended to the world of Di to be Di’s company (Bin Di 賓帝). They had power almost comparable to Di himself. As mobile as the living king, the deceased ancestors were able to ascend and descend freely, to bring down blessings or ill fortune on Shang, ruin harvests, spoil rain, cause illness and disaster, order alien states to raid, or assist the Shang king. They were even given the title of ‘Di’ after their death. Addressed as the lower god (Xia Di 下帝) as opposed to the high god (Shang Di 上帝).” Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China by Aihe Wang 王愛和, P. 39
  • Wang's reference to Eno is his paper in the journal Early China # 15, which I have.)

Bao Pu, Thank you again for your detailed answers and polite reply.

re: Nuwa: This detail would be a good addition to the current article. I have seen some of the prehistorical paintings; but little of the narrative can be directly confirmed that way, as you seem to have concluded. An article by Vivienne Lo for the "International Academic Conference on the Changsha Bamboo Documents Dating to Wu of Three Kingdom" claimed to have additional details from their discoveries regarding "her" development, but when I requested more info, it was entirely in Chinese. Apparantly it was too unusual of a character set for my immediate Chinese friends to translate. Additionally, it was only the brochure for the university presentation (which has since finished); and my Chinese was too poor to do more than get the gist of the brochures outline.
re: Mozi: The e-text is tremendously appreciated. I will use that for word searches, verifying quotations, and reading. I also had to order a copy on Amazon since none was available throughout our *entire* metropolitan library.
re: Jiagupian (Oracle Bones): Again thank you for the details. You are welcomed to email the info; I would appreciate that. My immediate uninformed impression is that scholars do not have a consensus here; and the limitation of resources is problematic anyway. Still, I suppose if we really knew, the allure of discovery would not be quite the same!
Thanks again for the dialog; it is my pleasure. P.S. Have you thought of adding some info to your talk page? mamgeorge 19:42, 19 June 2006 (UTC)


Eiorgiomugini, Hello.

Sorry to remove your change, but I needed to point out the difference between a quotation and a citation:
1) Quotations can be made by anybody. They are not necessarily attributed to any specific person, and can be made up.
2) This quotation was, and still is, completely unreferenced. What are the "Statutes of the Ming Dynasty", "Text of the Border Sacrifice", "Annual Sacrifice Ritual"? Are these recognized by any scholars? Are they described in any book? How can we check the wording to verify this is a correct copy?
Now, look at the citation for Mozi. You can see the book, the author, the date, the chapter, even the paragraph. You can check it yourself!. The same logic applies to the Lie Yukou article. I do not know if Lie Yukou existed or not. I am not trying to prove it one way or the other. If you read the quote I provided, not even Lionel Giles, the scholar, knew. But you can check the quote, because the citation shows you how to verify it. You can check if he really said what I wrote.
3) Also note: I did not remove information; In good faith, I do not believe the person who wrote about the "Border Sacrifice" was making it up. My only concern is that they must cite a checkable reference. If you check the page history, I even added details to make it easier to find a quote. As of yet, no one has added this.
Eiorgiomugini, you did provide a reason this time, and I appreciate it. Please recognize I am being very detailed so you can check my reasons.
Please recognize I am not attacking you, Shangdi, the Ming Dynasty, the quotation, or anything else.
Please consider responding to this talk page first, and giving me some time to comply. I have compromised with your suggestions before, and am willing to discuss your approach. By the way, if you have the citation, please add it!!! :)
Thank You. mamgeorge 16:41, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Border Sacrifice Quotation[edit]

In trying to identify a real source for the three components listed for the Border Sacrifice quotation, I came up with this:

1) "Statutes of the Ming Dynasty"
After some checking, I am convinced this one is real, and made a stub of it. You can now link to this stub verify its accuracy. Now we have to find the place in the volume the quotation is made. Note to Eiorgiomugini! This can not be a citation source until we verify the quote is actually in the document. Then, if we find it, the section, chapter, paragraph, verse should be added. That will constitiute a citation. Thank you.
2) "Text of the Border Sacrifice"
Parts of this Sacrifice appear to come from:
禮記 [li3ji4] Liji (aka LiKi, "Book of Rites"), Book 9 aka 郊特牲 [jiao1 te2 sheng1] (aka Kiao Theh Sang, "Border Animal Sacrifice"; "Single Victim At The Border Sacrifices"), Section 2.
Note that the book number differs from the link because of the numbering of the first 4 books. The wiki link points to Book 11.
However, at this time I can not identify a specific text.
3) "Annual Sacrifice Ritual"
So far I can not confirm specifics for this ritual, but it appears to be described in the Qing annals.
Can anyone help? I'll add more if I can. Thanks, mamgeorge 17:22, 27 June 2006 (UTC)


The dating of Shangdi in Chinese thought is based on the following understanding:

1) The oldest documents extant in Chinese literature are the Wujing. This is not the earliest Chinese writing, of course, and not the earliest mention of Shangdi.
2) The earliest references to Shangdi before this are in the Oracle Bone inscriptions

Please comment on this if you can add verifiable detail. Thank you!

mamgeorge 15:42, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Removal of so-called "More Information" part[edit]

The entire section bases its argument upon an obscure Christian book called God's Promise to the Chinese, and of course has no evidence nor reason to back up any of the claims. The source violates Wikipedia:No_original_research#Sources, and the section simply copies over what the book says over. This theory is no more credible than Purushottam Nagesh Oak's theory that the Taj Mahal was built by a Hindu king, nor more reliable than creationists' claim that the Earth is less than 6,000 years old. –- kungming·2 (Talk) 22:10, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Hello, Kungming2.
Thank you for attempting to move to a nuetral point of view with this discussion.
1) I agree details on the development of Chinese characters do not fit here. I do not know how reliable the claims in the book "Gods Promise..." you mention are; I have not read that book, know nothing of the authors, nor have I studied the development of Chinese characters fully. From what I can tell (from what little was included by author "Imonmywaynow"), at least some of the conclusions appear to be incorrect. However, I say this largely because of my familiarity with Dr. Weigers work "Chinese Characters", which is an earlier attempt at Chinese etymology. The whole discussion belongs under Chinese character.
2) Your response, however, puzzles. You provided no alternate evidence or references, which is essentially what you accused "Imonmywaynow" of doing. You did not point to a better interpretation ; instead merely censoring his contribution. Your use of "TajMahal" & "Creationists" appears to be an ad hominem attempt to belittle through assumed associations. It looked to me both of you are imposing an agenda, rather than furthering understanding. Is this what you want?
3) Last, it seems you may have some background in Chinese literature. Do you have any resources for the "Text of the Border Sacrifice" and "Annual Sacrifice Ritual" mentioned in the text? Thanks...
mamgeorge 20:39, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

Kungming2, thanks for deleting the unverifiable "More information" section. Practically all those claims are falsehoods confusing the ancient Chinese Shangdi with the modern Christian translation Shangdi. Here are some examples.

  • Di and later Shangdi originally referred to ancestral spirits, not the Western notion of a "great Creator-God of the universe" who "created the first man and woman."
  • Although the modern pronunciation shangdi bears some similarity to Shaddai, the Old Chinese does not, and this "djanh-tigh" is less not "more similar".
  • The note suggests that "ordered" means more than "guided" in the Mozi quote (taken without attribution from Yi-Pao Mei's translation[1]), but the original text uses Chinese mo 磨 "grind, mill; turn around".

These "character etymologies" are sadly misguided. Modern epigraphic research of Oracle and Bronze characters reveals that many traditional explanations based on Seal Characters (Shuowen jiezi, Wieger, Yellowbridge, etc.) were false.

  • Compare the Seal and Oracle graphs for shi[2]. According to Wenlin, the Oracle丅shows "an altar with dripping sacrifices on it". According to the Shuowen, the Seal graph for 示 combines 三 (astronomical signs of the sun, moon, and stars) under 二 (上 "heaven"). These "heavenly signs" were graphic simplifications of "blood drops", not cryptic depictions of the Christian "Trinity".
  • The early graphs for yuan 元 show the head of a person ("head; primary; chief") and not "that which is above man".
  • Perhaps the most egregious "graphic etymology" is that huang 黃 "yellow" depicts "man" in a "garden (of Eden, perhaps Adam)". As you can see[3], some Seal graphs of 黃 have 大 "(big) person" and 田 "cultivated field" (never "garden"), but the Bronze and Oracle graphs depict something (scholars suggest a "yellow jade") on the chest of a 大 "person". Which is more ludicrous? Hypothesizing that the Yellow Emperor was "Adam" (How could the first ruler be the first man?) or that Shun was "sacrificing to a Judeo-Christian-esque Creator-God"?

This kind of pseudo-scholarship might be suitable for a Sunday school but not for an encyclopedia.

Mamgeorge, the "Border Sacrifice" was called Jiao 郊 "suburbs", referring to the location of seasonal sacrifices to the gods of heaven and earth. Here are details from Legge's Liji translation[4]. If you would like more references, please contact me through my Talk Page.

Best wishes, Keahapana 04:24, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

1) Thanks for your details, especially the etymology quote and specific reference to 'LiJi'.
2) I have attributed "Yi Pao Mei" to the quote, as you have suggested.
3) Legges 'LiJi' translation does not contain the quoted material in the article. At this point, the Ming Dynasty "Text of the Border Sacrifice" as mentioned either derives from another source, or is spurious. Do you (or does anyone else) have anything specific on this claim?
Again, thank you for the direct references you provided. That particular response is very constructive and very welcome.
mamgeorge 17:30, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Thank you Keahapana and Mamgeorge,

Sorry, but it is easy to forget the majority of people don't have a firm background in the Chinese classics, including many modern-day Chinese who have never read classical Chinese - sorry I did not give a more firm ground upon which I removed that section.

As Keahapana pointed out, 上帝 is often used by Protestants in China to refer to God. The two are very different, however, and the theories that attempt to link them together are rightly called fringe theories, because the vast majority of evidence goes against their stated claims and "evidence".

The symbol that the Shang Dynasty used to symbolize Di (at that time, the word 上, meaning "greater" or "upper" had not yet been added), looked very similar to the pictograph of a star, having similar astronomical meanings with the Zhou's use of Tian (the sky or heaven).

Yet Di was someone related to ancestry and the king's ancestors. The king did not pray to Di directly most of the time; rather, he prayed to his ancestors to intercede and talk to Di. Therefore, any divination and sacrifices to Di would have been done at an ancestor's temple, not at a special altar/temple for Di. And the religion of the ancient Chinese was most definitely not monotheistic - apart from Di, there were the numerous nature spirits and gods of special powers that were worshipped.

My source is Conrad Schirokauer's "A Brief History of Chinese and Japanese Civilizations," which is the textbook I am now using in my studies at Princeton. For further information, it's probably a good place to begin from.

As for the "Text of the Border Sacrifice" and "Annual Sacrifice Ritual", I would have to look in the Five Classics for them - and I confess I'm only knowledgeable in the Four Books - the Confucian ones.

–- kungming·2 (Talk) 20:29, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Furthermore, the Christian concept of the Trinity was not formulated until the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, definitely much after the worship of Di (around 1100 BCE). The Tanukh, nor the Bible makes any mention of the Trinity. And also, I apologize if it seemed as if I was attempting to further an agenda - I do not have an agenda, but all I wish for is for Wikipedia to be as accurate as possible. Thanks for the constructive criticism. –- kungming·2 (Talk) 20:34, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Mamgeorge & Kungming2
I couldn't find any references to that supposed Ming Dynasty text. Also, I'd suggest moving your reverted Mozi "Will of Heaven" passage ("this section was not in that addition") to the Tian article or just deleting it. The problem with having it under Shangdi is that Mozi is specifically describing Tian ("Heaven") and not Shangdi. The original editor's speculation – "… he is translated as using the agent of "Heaven". It is possible he is referring to Shangdi" – is clearly false. If you decide to move it, Burton Watson's Mozi translation (2003) reads much better. Best wishes. Keahapana 01:58, 24 September 2007 (UTC)


This Shangdi article is muddled and I'm wondering how it could be rearranged. The current organization is:

  • 1 First mention (both oracle and classical references, TMI about classics and not enough about Shangdi)
  • 2 Meaning & Use of Name (should this be first?)
  • 3 Attributes (more classical references)
  • 4 Creator (still more classical references, marked as needing copy editing)
  • 5 Worship (no sources)
  • 6 Chinese Christianity
  • 7 Footnotes
  • 8 References
  • 9 See also

I just got a copy of Chang's "Understanding Di and Tian" monograph, which is organized chronologically:

  • Introduction
  • Shang Dynasty
  • Zhou Dynasty
  • Han Dynasty
  • Tang Dynasty
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Any suggestions for how Shangdi should be reorganized? Keahapana 02:00, 24 September 2007 (UTC)


Shaddai means something entirely different from Shangdi; even the number and type of morphemes in both are completely different. This kind of folk etymology is typical of religious appropriationist-revisionists. Whoever cleaned up the evangelism, thank you so very much.-- 09:19, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

on kantonese, shang ti or shang di sounds like sheung dai...

the hebrew for almighty is shaddai.... a connection between monotheistic relgions?

it hase to be i think...especially when u read this...a connection between chinese calligraphy and the Genesis of the Old testament...

coincidencies?? or maybe sth. bigger??

what do u think about this?? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:54, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Shang Di = two independent words, meaning High/Upper and Sovereign/Lord respectively. Shaddai = one word, variously meaning victorious, powerful or nurturing. Shaddai therefore does not have the same meaning as Shang Di, and furthermore does not mean anything divine unless connected with El, as in El-Shaddai. All they have to go on is pronunciation, and given that the Jews had a few dozen names for their deity, it's quite likely something would stick. This is blatantly desperate folk etymology as practiced by religious revisionists with an aim to appropriate non-Biblical histories. The same goes for those purported examples of Biblical stories in Chinese characters; they are based on misunderstanding of the meanings and structures of character radicals, especially the assumption that they have not changed over time. For example, the radical which supposedly depicts the number 8 in the word for ship appears in a number of other characters, and has no numerical meaning in them. The radical at the top of the spirit character is a single morpheme meaning rain, and is not composed of three characters for heaven, cover and water that they claim it is. --SohanDsouza (talk) 13:26, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Needs Expansion[edit]

Not enough on the connection to Daoism. (talk) 23:32, 18 May 2009 (UTC)stardingo747

Remove the Christian junk folk etymology please[edit]

The junk etymology appeared to be copied from this

this was probably lifted off wikipedia at an earlier date and therefore we should examine it closely to seperate the junk from truth. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:39, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

From the earliest eras of Chinese history, Shangdi was officially worshipped through sacrificial rituals. Shangdi is believed to rule over natural and ancestral spirits, who act as His ministers.

notice the His, capitalized. Only christians refer to their god like that. and the fact that the source for that section is just a picture of the temple of heaven is laughable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:43, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Agreed. I question the notability of how Christians may interpret what is clearly a non-Abrahamic religious concept. It would be about as absurd as asking how a Confucian evangelist might reconcile using the Hebrew term "Yahweh" to render Shangdi. Absolutely unnecessary. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:57, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

I have never heared this god in China![edit]

I HAVE BEEN LIVING IN CHINA FOR OVER 25 years,I only heared Jude Emperor,Not Shangdi. (talk) 09:57, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Deceptive translations and sourcing[edit]

The article currently reads:

"Shangdi is not invariant [for he judges a person according to his actions]. On the good-doer He sends down blessings, and on the evil-doer He sends down miseries."[4]

This reference is simply the Chinese text that it was translated from, meaning that the translation was done by a Wikipedia editor. If that sort of thing happens, it has to be a very careful translation. The above is sloppy and there is a lot added to the original. The referenced Chinese reads:


When examining the actual Chinese, there is no pronoun. No "he" whatsoever, and certainly not "He", implying the pronoun used by Christians for God. There is nothing here implying that there is any anthropomorphic figure at all. Someone was using wishful thinking, inventing the "evidence" along the way. Tengu800 02:17, 3 July 2011 (UTC)

Page 25

Heaven as traditionally believed is comprised of the ancestors (Di) who were ruled over by a supreme ancestor (Shangdi). It was Confucius who first shifted emphasis from Heaven to Earth. The spirit of the whole Analects is in line with this change of emphasis. One good example is the change of emphasis from ancestor worship to filial piety. However, Confucius has never abandoned the idea of Heaven. In the words of Huston Smith, "The extent to which Confucius shifted emphasis from Heaven to Earth should not blind us, however, to the balancing point; namely, that he did not sunder man from Heaven altogether. He never repudiated the main outlines of the worldview of his time — Heaven and Earth, the divine creative pair, half physical and half more-than-physical, ruled over by the Supreme Shang Ti [Shangdi]."* The Analects

Title Islam and civilizational dialogue: the quest for a truly universal civilization Author Osman Bakar Publisher Published and distributed for the Centre for Civilizational Dialogue of University of Malaya by University of Malaya Press, 1997 Original from the University of Michigan Digitized Jun 30, 2009 ISBN 9831000404, 9789831000403 Length 133 pages

The deity was mentioned in Ming records.

14 Mar 1369 [Hong-wu Emperor]

The one on high (上帝) will truly be watching and you must not be remiss in your exertions."

30 December 1369 [Hong-wu Emperor]

you take up arms against each other and fight on for years without resolution, it will indeed bring calamity to your people, and the One on High (上帝), who loves life, will indeed be displeased.

Vietnamese worship of shangdi and heaven

Rajmaan (talk) 22:16, 13 April 2013 (UTC)

Attempts to "Christianise" the article and the use of Shangdi[edit]

Recently user "George Leung" has attempted to impose a Christian interpretation to the article introducing unreliable sources such as Answers in Genesis, mostly material that is produced by American Evangelical agencies trying to trace the origins of Chinese religion to the "Bible" (rather, the historical fact would be that the worship of Shang Di came from the Indo-Europeans of Central Asia, but this is another issue). I have found that the same type of problem was discussed in past months and years. What is new with the edits by George Leung is that he tries to impose the idea that "Shangdi" is now used mostly in a "Christian" context, completely ignoring the long and still developing Confucian and popular theological traditions which contain the same concept.--Aethelwolf Emsworth (talk) 12:27, 16 April 2016 (UTC)

Hi George Leung, you asked on my Talk page why I reverted edits and I'll answer here.

  • No reference for "while its usage among contemporary and secular…"
  • "Contemporary Confucianism" changes seem to misquote Huang (2007), and changing "emphasised" to "emphasized" violates MOS:RETAIN
  • Neither the self-described "apologetics ministry" website nor Nelson's God’s Promise to the Chinese (abject nonsense from self-publisher Read Books) meets WP:RS.
  • Only an admin can apply page protection, please read WP:PP

If I've inadvertently reverted any changes that follow WP conventions and improve this article, please discuss it here. Best wishes, Keahapana (talk) 00:38, 25 April 2016 (UTC)

Hello Keehapana,

  • I will add the usage along contemporary/secular usage
  • Some of the stuff is actually from the Chinese page, and those are with quote.
  • Thought emphasised is just spelling mistake? Really uncertain on violation of MOS:RETAIN

For now, I will revert, but merge with your suggestions. George Leung (talk) 21:36, 25 April 2016 (UTC)

  • Addition: One thing we have to consider: is it possible that the usage of Shangdi related to Christian God much more common in Hong Kong (which is where I am from), Taiwan, and at least North America? George Leung (talk) 21:54, 25 April 2016 (UTC)
No, we don't need to consider doing original research. Since there are many available English-language sources about Shangdi, neither do we need any of these Chinese-language links, per WP:NONENG. You might want to add them to the zh.wikipedia page. Keahapana (talk) 23:28, 30 April 2016 (UTC)