[KS] Name used for "god" in Korean language

sung oak sungoak at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 29 23:57:04 EDT 2008

    Just an addition to the discusion. 
    Between 1893-1903, when the Protestant missioanries in Korea debated what should be the best Korean term for God, they experimented many names and used them freely, even though majorly the two camps--the Ch'o^nju camp and the Hana^nim camp--competed each other. Initially the Ch'o^nju camp prevailed because the term was best for the unity of the Christian Church (it has been used by the RCs and Anglicans.) and it was an invented Christian name, not a name borrowed from the existing non-Christian religions. So James S. Gale, who belong to the Hana^nim camp, wrote in his letter to Dr. Ellinwood, on May 19, 1894, as follows: "Our mission I think and most of the Methodists likewise desire the pure native word, Hanamim, but the Bible Society will print in two or three different names if we so desire, and I am quite certain that the apparent division need be no real division at all, for the natives will understand any of the names upon hearing the teaching of the Bible in reference to it and this is certainly necessary in using any names whatsoever." What is important is the fact that many nams of God were allowed at least until 1903 because the Koreans could understand them as the names for the Christian God, or idenitfy them with the Christian God.
    At that time, Roman Catholics and Anglicans in China, Japan, and Korea used "Tienzhou" (Ch'o^nju). The Protestant Chinese Scriptures used "Shangdi" (publihsed by the British and Foregn Bible Society) or "Shen" (published by the American Bibel Society). Most Japanese Protestants used the ABS editions of the Bible, so thye adopted "Shen" (Kami). In Korea, many educated Christians used the Chinese New and Old Testaments, publihsed by the BFBS, so "Shangdi" (Sangje) became their name for God. (Hence we can say sometimes the monopoly of a certian region by a Bible Society and the distribution of its editions were more important than the debates among the missionaries and native Christians in the field.) In the vernacular Korean vesions, both "Hana^min" and "Ch'o^nju" (at that time "Tyo^njyu) were simutaneouly used in the Korean Scriptures in 1894-1903. For example, the 1900 NT was printed with both names in the same book. 
    My last point: In terms of the official names for God,
    1. Before 1904, the Protestant Church in Korea used "Shangdi" (of Chinese Christian literature), "Tienzhou" (for the ecumenical purpose--with RCs and Anglicans), and "Hana^nim" in vernacular literature (for the differenciation from RC). = Three names co-existed.
    2. From 1904 when "Hana^nim" became the authorized Protestant (excludign Anglicans) term for God in Korea,  "Shangdi" (in Chinese Scriptures and Chinese-Korean Mixed Scriptures) and "Hana^nim" were used as the official names for God. = Two names co-existed.
Sung-Deuk Oak
  > From: Emilia.Szalkowska at amu.edu.pl> To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws> Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2008 12:46:03 +0900> Subject: Re: [KS] Name used for "god" in Korean language> > Hello,> > Many answers for your questions can be found in the following chapter of sb's dissertation:> > "Modern History of Korean Religions" - http://igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/dissertations/2003-1215-112739/c3.pdf> > All chapters are available on-line (from .../c1.pdf, .../c2.pdf and so on) but what is missing in this archive it is the title page with the name of an author. I hope you can find it anyway.> > Emilia Szalkowska> > > ----- Original Message ----- > From: <erichwein at hotmail.com>> To: <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>> Sent: Monday, July 28, 2008 3:30 AM> Subject: [KS] Name used for "god" in Korean language> > > > 1. What is the word in Korean for "God"? (Transliteration, please)> > > > 2. Is this an original Korean word, or one introduced by Christian > > missionaries?> > > > 3. Is it the same word used in traditional Korean folk religion (e.g. > > shamanism) and in Buddhism?> > > > 4. Is the same word used in both North and South Korea?> > > > 5. In North Korea, is the same word for "God" used both in reference > > to the Christian God (e.g. in worship services of the Korean Christian > > Federation) and in reference to the "Great Leader"? (Explanation: I am > > told that the word "god" is not used in reference the the GL. However, > > on several occasions my interpreters in the DPRK did use the word > > "god" in reference to KIS. This may have been a wrong translation. > > Example: Referring to the young age at which KIS founded the PKA, one > > interpreter told me, "That is why I consider him a god.")> > > > 6. If not, what distinguishes the two words/concepts used?> > > > Thanks for any clarifications you can render.> > Erich Weingartner> > > >
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