Archaeology, The Bible and The
Post-Flood Origins of Chinese History
Roy L. Hales
During the past century many theories of a western origin for Chinese civilization have been proposed. One of the best documented attempts was based on the similarity of neolithic pottery in eastern Europe and China. It was discarded because archaeologists believed that any such large scale migration should leave abundant evidences in the intervening lands and that evidence was not available. On Biblical presuppositions, of course, we might expect no intervening link because the migration to distant lands occurred rapidly after the Tower of Babel episode. An examination of Chinese tradition, and the legends of the equally ancient Far Eastern Miao tribes, suggests that China was colonised after a flood like that described in the Bible.
The flood was as important in the ancient mythologies of the peoples of China, as it is to Scripture. Many primitive peoples described it as a catastrophe of Biblical dimensions. The Miao Legend states that a single human couple escaped the deluge in a wooden drum, and then gave birth to the first members of post flood humanity.1 The Shu King, China's first "history", states:
destructive in their overflow are the waters of the inundation. In their vast extent they embrace the hills and overtop the great heights, threatening the heavens with their floods.2
WORLD PRE-FLOOD GENEALOGIES
Yu, the Chinese "Noah", overcame the flood waters, but he and his immediate predecessors are of a lineage well known to world mythology. The Bible, the ancient Sumerians and the Chinese all cite a chronology of ten rulers whose last member was the hero of a Great Flood epoch. Similar legends are known from Greece and India. Some modern scholars have recognised the unity of these genealogies and suggested they may have originated in ancient Sumeria. In our Biblical framework, the great flood was an actual event and each of these traditions indigenous to the lands where they are found. Such a currency of like traditions is to be expected on the basis of Scripture, and on that basis Miao are quite correct in ascribing the whole of post flood humanity to a single family.
A BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION OF CHINESE ARCHAEOLOGY
A Biblical interpretation of China's village culture must necessarily cut 3,000 years off the current reconstruction of that nation's Neolithic era. The vast bulk of early cultures, the Yang Shao and Lung Shan among them, would be incorporated as components of Hsia dynasty times (2205 B.C. to 1766 B.C.). The earliest villages would not have been more than a few hundred years earlier.
SIMILARITIES OF SUMERIAN AND CHINESE CULTURE
Genesis 11:2 states that after the flood mankind found a plain in the land of Sinar (Sumeria) and settled there. There are evidences in China's culture that indicate a Sumerian origin. The term "black-headed people" for their own race, and an emphasis on astronomy and mathematics in early times are common to both cultures.
Furthermore, the identity of a great body of astronomical lores and astrological superstitions, the use of methods of measurement, the cycle of sixty and decimal system, the belief in interrelation and correspondence of five elements, of five colors and the harmony of numbers, together with a multitude of other customs on the part of both the Chinese and Chaldeans cannot be explained as merely co-incidences.3
JAPHETIC ORIGINS OF THE CHINESE
From Sumeria, mankind spread out across the earth and it seems quite probable that the ancestors of the Chinese accompanied the Japhetic migration into Europe. The Caucasian and Mongolian races have long been recognized as close genetic relatives.4 When Sir William Dawson broke the early Chinese language into its monosyllable roots, in the late nineteenth century, he found them traceable to all stocks of European speech.5 Then, too, the painted urns of one of China's earliest neolithic cultures (the Yang Shao) have no other correspondents in China, but are strikingly like "similar painted wares" from Turkestan, the Caucasus, the Ukraine and the Balkans.
MIAO TRADITIONS OF BEGINNINGS AND THE MIGRATION
Hugo Bernatzek found traditions of another homeland and an ancient migration from among the Miao tribes who now live in Thailand. The first two human beings, a brother and sister, supposedly appeared after "the earth was flooded by the ocean".7 The Miao also talk of a "golden age" before weeds grew in the field and of how ripe grain flew through the air into men's houses.
This age came to an end when one lazy woman disobeyed her husband and didn't sweep the house clean to receive the ripe grain. There are stories, too, of an original homeland many years journey to the north where the days and nights are six months long and it is very cold.8
A missionary named F.M.l. Savina had earlier collected the stories of the Miao who lived in southern China. These people also spoke of the "golden age", indicating that it had ended when a woman picked some forbidden strawberries. They told of how a brother and sister had escaped the flood waters in a wooden drum and how all post flood humanity was descended from them. Then there came a time when mankind grew numerous and tried to reach heaven with a ladder. The "Lord of Heaven" struck these few dead with lightning. Before this time all people had spoken one language: now they were given many languages and, not being able to understand one another, separated. The Miao went to a land where the days and nights were six months long. They eventually migrated into Honan province, in China, and were in possession of that land when the Hia or "Chinese" arrived.9
BlBLlCAL ASPECTS OF MIAO AND CHINESE LEGENDS
Both Miao and Chinese traditions assume several Biblical sounding aspects. Miao legends mention an original "golden age" lost to mankind through disobedience, a great flood and the subsequent dispersal of the human family throughout the world. Chinese tradition possesses no fall Story, and no migration epic, but lists a number of pre-flood characters who are very similar to those found in the Bible.
THE FIRST TEN CHINESE EMPERORS
Stories of the first ten emperors of China follow a chronology much like that of the first ten generations of Genesis. Like Adam, the first emperor was specially created, ruled "over the earth" (Genesis 1 :28) and wore the skins of animals. Shen-nung, the second emperor, was like Adam's son Cain in that he was the first farmer, who invented the plow and instigated the first markets. During another emperor's reign cattle were first herded, pitch pipes were invented and the first instruments of bronze and iron fashioned: Genesis 4:19-22 attributes these innovations to the sons of Lamech. The seventh man of each list was a bigamist. Noah and Yu, the tenth members of their lists, were flood heroes who developed a limp during the course of their labours and who were associated with the discovery of wine.10 The comparisons between Chinese and Biblical chronology are so many that many mythologists have admitted that they must have been inspired by the same source. These modern scholars suggest that both traditions evolved from Sumerian legends, but there are far more resemblances between Chinese and Biblical tradition than exist between the myths of Sumeria and China
SUPPOSEDLY OLDER CHINESE TRADITIONS
Numerous pre-Imperial personalities would appear to refute the thesis that the Imperial/Biblical generations are historical, but these myths in many ways actually strengthen the Scriptural link. Many of the stories can be dismissed as late inventions. Others, of an obvious antiquity, often demonstrate claims contemporary to the Imperial line and Scripture. For instance, Suei Jen taught men how to make fires and set up markets: innovations also claimed by pre-flood emperors and, at least in regard to markets, Cain. The flood waters followed and when they had covered seven-tenths of the earth Kung Kung took advantage of mankind's Compressed situation to make himself king.
Alternate versions relate that Kung Kung was an inept official who failed to halt the rising flood waters and that he was the father of Yu (Noah, in the present thesis). The similarities between these mythical fragments and the Imperial chronologies are such that they may have descended from alternate traditions of the same era.11
MIAO AND CHINESE MIGRATIONS INTO CHINA
The Miao claim to have migrated into China prior to the Chinese and there are many evidences that support such a claim. Ch'ih Yu, the third emperor, was the chieftan of the Li tribes who are part of the Miao race. Some, admittedly late, traditions state that Huang Ti led the Chinese out of the northwest and into China at this time. Huang Ti 's overthrow of Ch'ih Yu, which must be regarded as a Miao/Chinese struggle, is the first war of Chinese history. Whatever historical basis these legends may have, however, they appear to be chronologically misplaced. The entire sequence of preflood Imperial history appears to be like that of the Bible, and Huang Ti is in the middle of this sequence. Furthermore, both Miao and Biblical chronologies cite these events as occurring after the flood. A far more logical candidate for leading the post flood migration to China is Yu, who established the Hsia dynasty (2205 B.C. 1766 B.C.) after the flood.12
YU LED THE "CHINESE" INTO CHINA
Within the legends of Yu are hints of two personalities: a flood hero and a migration leader. During the course of his labours, Yu paced the length of the earth. He then established the Hsia dynasty and cast nine caldrons which became symbolic of his dynasty. The origin of the metal for these caldrons which represent the nine provinces of China is problematic: one authority insists this material came from the nine regions (of the empire)", another states that the metal was "brought from far off countries by the nine shepherds".13 The second interpretation supports a colonization hypothesis, especially when we consider the strong sheepherding traditions of Sumeria and the Balkan regions of eastern Europe. Further hints as to Yu's migration are gained through his father, Kung Kung. One Chinese tradition asserts that when flood waters covered seven-tenths of the earth Kung Kung took advantage of this fact to extend his rule over all of them. Miao tradition states that mankind grew numerous after the flood, but then dispersed after the "confusion of the tongues". Scripture mentions that mankind settled in the land of Shinar (Sumeria) after the flood and that a certain Nimrod established his kingdom there: then came the confusion of tongues and dispersal. Yu's claim to be the son of Kung Kung (Nimrod, in this thesis) may or may not be true, but he probably took the idea of "empire" with him to China. Numerous archaeological remains and retained customs testify to the Sumerian and Japhetic origins of Chinese civilization.
DISTORTION OF CHINESE TRADITION
In time, egocentric ideas of Chinese superiority and of the emperor as the "Son of Heaven" came to distort the traditional chronologies of beginnings. The flood was remembered, but China is the only culture which claims to have conquered its flood and the conqueror was, of course, an emperor. That this "emperor" led the Chinese into their future homeland is most probable. His recasting as "Noah" seems quite natural in a culture which came to disregard anything not Chinese. Omitting the foreign episodes, there was nothing before Yu except the flood.
VALUE OF CHINESE TRADITION
Despite these distortions, Chinese tradition remains one of the most essential evidences in any attempt to build a creationist framework of world history. The Chinese were one of the earliest literate civilizations and, with the Greeks and Hebrews, perhaps the first historically minded people. Most of eastern Asia derived cultural roots from China.
VALUE OF CREATIONIST RECONSTRUCTION TO MIAO AND CHINESE TRADITION
Within a creationist framework of history, both Chinese and Miao traditions derive a historicity which was formerly denied them. The Miao Stories of the flood, of a confusion of tongues and a subsequent migration to China appear as historical events. Many of the first Chinese emperors appear to have been historical characters, which makes it quite possible that the others are as well. Eight people survived the flood, with six different family backgrounds behind them. Any number of details, which are not in the Biblical record but nevertheless true, could have passed into folklore. The framework for any such reconstruction, however, lies in Genesis, chapters 1 to 11. It is within the idea of a post-flood colonization like that described in the Bible that the traditions of China's most ancient peoples the Miao and "Chinese" are reconciled.
1 Hugo Bernatzek; Akha and Miao (1970), p.302 citing F.M.I. Savina Histoire de Miao (Société des Missions étrangères de Paris. Hong Kong, (7930), p. 245.
2 James Legge (trans) "The Canon of Yao" (Shoo Kingi.
3 Kiang Kang Hsi.' Chinese Civilization (Chung Hwa Book Co., Shanghai 1935), p.5.
4 Franz Boas; The Mind of Primitive Man (Free Press paperback, 1965), p. 110.
5 Arthur Custance; Time and Eternity (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich, 1977), pp. 184-185.
6 Stuart Piggot (ed); The Dawn of Civilization (1968), p.268.
7 Bernatzek, p.301.
8 Ibid, p.305.
9 Savina, pp. 180 & 254 as cited in Bernatzek, pp. 302-306.
10 Bernhard Karlgren "Legends and Cults in Ancient China" (Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, #18,1946) and other sources cited by Joseph Campbell; The Masks of God' Oriental Mythology (Viking/Compass, N.Y., 1974), pp.382-391.
Kiang Kung Ilsi, pp. 8-15.
James MacGowan; The Imperial History of China (Curzion Press London: N.Y.: Harper & Row; N.Y.: Barnes & Noble, 1973), pp. 4-20.
Josephus; Antiquities of the Jews 1.2.1.
11 Campbell, pp. 381-382; Kiang Kung Hsi p.8; MacGowan, pp. 2 & 3.
12 The Shan Hai Ching cited Kiang Kung Hsi p4; Kiang Kung Hsi pp. 4 & 8; MacGowan, pp. 6-8; Campbell, p.383 & 391,392.
13 K.C. Wu; The Chinese Heritage (Crown Publishers, N.Y., 1982), p.112; and also Anthony Christie; Chinese Mythology (Hamlynn, London, N.Y., Sydney, Toronto, 1968), pp. 89, 90.
THE PREFLOOD GENERATIONS
* as reconstructed by Berhard Karlgren & cited in Joseph Campbelle: The Masks of God - Oriental Mythology. pp. 382-389