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SOME SCHOLARLY VIEWS ON THE ORIGIN OF THE SU WEN 3




David Keegan, the first Western scholar to write a dissertation on the structure
and origin of the Su wen, identified a three-step generation of the Nei
jing text corpus. First, certain ideas were composed. Second, these ideas were
2 bibliographic history of the su wen
compiled in texts. Third, these texts were compiled in the Nei jing corpus.
The first step alone involved many authors and took more than six hundred
years. As Keegan stated, “The language and ideas in all of the versions of the
Nei jing were composed between 400 b.c. and a.d. 260. Between the time
this language and the ideas it expresses were composed and the time they
were set into the compilations extant today they had been shaped and reshaped
through a long and active textual tradition. . . . The [extant] versions
of the Nei jing are not simply compilations but the last in a progressive series
of compilations.”12 Keegan emphasized that none of the Nei jing compilations
extant today are identical to those texts known under this title in the
Han era.13
Based on our reading of the text, we largely agree with Keegan, as well as
Yang Yiya and other Chinese scholars who hold similar views. In the following,
I offer some hitherto unnoticed evidence that supports these views. Presumably,
only a small portion of the textus receptus transmits concepts from
before the second century b.c.14



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