lundi 23 octobre 2017

Recorded History of China Too Old For Us?

I am not sure how many of you have heard a claim from RationalWiki or even read it there, but they do consider that human continuous historiography beginning about at Flood is seriously at risk, due to Martino Martini SJ writing that Emperor Fohius started ruling in China in 2952 BC, and due to Chinese history being so well buttressed by continuous and scientifically exact astronomical obseervations.

In fact, a Jesuit missionary, Martino Martini,Wikipedia's W.svg who was sent to China in the 1650s, was shocked to find that Chinese records chronicled the Imperial dynasty from the first emperor in 2952 BC. An emperor, of course, requires a large population to rule over, not a single individual. Even to a strict Jesuit the Chinese records appeared more reliable and detailed than those of the Jews, they contained no gaps, even the earliest entries were written by contemporary authors, they were strictly factual without any reference to myths or legends, and they could be cross-referenced to the dates of solar eclipses calculated by European astronomers.[91]

I don't know who their staff Latinist is, but it seems to be one who:

  • diagnoses surprise at so well made history so early without the words actually being epxressed by the author;
  • misses that while Martini sees this as absolutely irreconcilable with the newer Chronology (Ussher was becoming famous among Catholics too), had no problem reconciling this with the Flood with Septuagint based Chronologies.

In other words, while they are somewhat intermediate between a fullfledged site and a wiki with anonymous contributors, no staff of any kind at all, they seem they could use a staff Latinist. It won't be me.

Now, let us break down what Martino Martini actually writes, a bit!

  • Fohius is neither the first man nor the first to be in China, MM has not missed the mythology surrounding Pang Guo, he does not consider it as historic, though.
  • The pre-Fohian rulers could either be pre-Flood or coming to China after Flood but before Babel, in small groups living what we could call a palaeolithic lifestyle. Either way, their long added spans of rule are totally unrealistic.
  • Fohius, Xinnungus and Hoangtius are three regnal spans together spanning 355 years. I am not sure RationalWiki would like to defend that the astronomical observations in China are such a great clue to Chinese accurate historiography that we can safely conclude Fohius ruled 115 years, Xinningus 140 and Hoangtius 100 years. If they do, I think you might have to cross check their treatment of pre-Flood and especially post-Flood but pre-Egypt patriarchs. On RationalWiki, special pleading wouldn't do, would it?
  • Fohius begins writing, Xinnungus agriculture and medicine, Hoangtius administration and the cycle of years. 1 year of 1:st cycle is therefore year one of Hoangtius' reign - after Fohius and Xinnungus.
  • In none of these have I as yet seen any clear outlining of astronomical observations of eclipses, so I must conclude this independent confirmation is of a somewhat later date.

This said, let's check how this fits my chronologies, Syncellus and St Jerome. In the latter case, I'd have to identify Fohius with someone not totally unique to China, with Ham.

A Just
Martino Martini's words:

2952 BC
Fohius begins to rule.
2837 BC
Xinnungus begins to rule.
2697 BC
Hoangtius begins to rule.
2597 BC
Hoangtius died.

B Syncellus
or rather Byzantine Liturgic (8 years longer):

3366 BC
2952 BC
Fohius begins to rule.
2837 BC
Peleg born
= 2837 BC
Xinnungus begins to rule.
2792 BC
Dispersion of Tongues
2697 BC
Hoangtius begins to rule.
2597 BC
Hoangtius died.

C St Jerome
with some reconstruction for Peleg:

2957 BC
2952 BC
Fohius begins to rule!
2837 BC
Xinnungus begins to rule.
2697 BC
Hoangtius begins to rule.
2597 BC
Hoangtius died.

2556 BC
Peleg born
2511 BC
Dispersion of Tongues.

With St Jerome this becomes problematic enough to be interesting : Fohius starts ruling 5 years after Flood, who is he? Noah himself? Ham? Shem? A grandson born that year and said to begin ruling then?

Ham seems to be not quite unreasonable, since Peter Comestor places one "Zoroaster" originator of magic later brought to our civilisation by Pythagoras as identic to Ham.

And if Hoangtius died before dispersion of tongues, we would assume that his local rule (if at all such) in Chine would have been subsumed under a more general command centralised at Babel.

I could even imagine considering this a possibility, these three were transferred to China, their real names are Ham, Kush and Nimrod. Obviously this last would grossly gloss over the less flattering aspects of Nimrod's carreer.

Let us now briefly recall some factors of which we are aware, though MM was not yet so.

We have carbon dates for grains in China, at least I think millet being "20 000 BP" which is compatible with a pre-Babel and post-Flood date.

The lifestyle of Fohius, or generally up to Xinnungus (Fohius and previous) is described in fairly palaeolithic terms. This kind of makes it a bit relative to use "emperor" as indicator of a large population.

The idea that Chinese history embodies a memory of pre-Flood ancestry could be confirmed if Denisovan man was pre-Flood, because, as with fairly certainly pre-Flood Neanderthal, only traces remain of the Denisovan genome - and these among other places in China and in Americas.

Rational Wiki might be interested in hearing that Fuxi - I think that is the Pinyin spelling of Fu Hsi or Fo Hi - is now commonly considered to be mythological.

Nice they are rational enough to take mythology and legend seriously, I'd like them to start doing so on a larger scale. Maybe softly with non-Christian legend first ...

Before actually going on, one could imagine that the account of Xinnungus (Shennong) subduing a province by his sheer goodness, if really about a province, could be later, and that diverse rulers followed the three in diverse parts, but they were serialised as all ruling in all parts of China, and the later conquest of that province was pushed back to the time of Xinnungus to fit this scenario of long unity. That would of course make dates like 2952 BC spurious, inflated by serialising parallel dynasties.

So, let's look at the three emperors, supposing that the years given by Father Martino Martino are correct and that China is already geographically (but not politically or linguistically, of course!) separate in the time of Fu Xi and also that - as the two together require - Syncellus has the better chronology:

Using Syncellus
From Continuing Interim III to Joseph in Egypt

X 2988 BC
15.616 pmc 18 338 BC

Eber *
2963 BC

Fu-Xi / Syncellus
2952 BC

XI 2947 BC
20.239 pmc 16 154 BC

XI 2947 BC
20.239 pmc 16 154 BC

XII 2906 BC
26.23 pmc 13 969 BC

XIII 2865 BC
33.994 pmc 11 785 BC

Shem +
2858 BC

Xinnungus / Syncellus
2837 BC

Peleg *
2829 BC

XIV 2824 BC
44.057 pmc 9600 BC

Arphaxad +
2791 BC

XV 2780 BC
49.459 pmc 8600 BC

Cainan +
2763 BC

XVI 2739 BC
51.476 pmc 8229 BC

Reu *
2699 BC

XVII 2698 BC
53.577 pmc 7857 BC

begins to rule
2697 BC

55.763 pmc 7486 BC

Shelah +
2633 BC

XIX 2617 BC
58.038 pmc 7114 BC

Hoangtius dies
2597 BC

XX 2576 BC
60.405 pmc 6743 BC

Serug *
2567 BC

Supposing on the other hand that St Jerome has the better chronology, either we must conclude that the three first emperors belong to the close family of Noah, or that their years are later than Martini got together.

Any of these solutions allows the CMI claim to remain correct and rebuts the RationalWiki rebuttal. And no, the words of Martino Martini SJ so far do not indicate that this very early history was already crossreferenced as said.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St John Capistrano*
St Theodore, Priest**

Update, next day, Roger Pearlman, an observant Jew, told me:

under RCCF framework 5778 AM to date, Chinese year count calibrates statistically to birth year of Noach 1056 AM

Noah, a son and a grandson as Fohius and the rest? Possible, except that Noah would certainly have known of agriculture./HGL

* Apud Villackum, in Pannonia, natalis sancti Joannis de Capistrano, Sacerdotis ex Ordine Minorum et Confessoris, vitae sanctitate ac fidei catholicae propagandae zelo illustris; qui Taurunensem arcem, validissimo Turcarum exercitu profligato, suis precibus et miraculis ab obsidione liberavit. Ejus tamen festivitas quinto Kalendas Aprilis recolitur.

** Antiochiae item natalis sancti Theodori Presbyteri, qui, in persecutione impii Juliani comprehensus, et, post equulei poenam et multos ac durissimos cruciatus, lampadibus etiam circa latera appositis adustus, tandem, cum in confessione Christi persisteret, gladii occisione martyrium consummavit.

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