Hanzi in Genesis

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Hanzi in Genesis is a publication by Creation Ministries International, wherein they cite several examples of Hanzi characters, which they claim they were aware of Christianity and God's promise well before the European powers came. The key argument within is that the development of Chinese characters pre-dates the writing of the Book of Genesis. Thus, the Chinese characters seem to provide an 'independent' record of the events in Genesis, conveniently forgetting that as with any language, it can evolve over time and can incorporate new characters and "words" as and when they become necessary.


Problems in the Hypothesis

The most obvious error that CMI has made is the mistake of confusing the phonetic component of the Hanzi for the semantic portion. Furthermore, the analysis was gleaned from the simplified Chinese characters, which are a relatively recent invention, and are different from the classical characters. [1]


The website lists several examples, with more in the actual text.

船 - "Large Boat"

This is actually the word for a basic boat, or anything that floats and is controllable, "Chuan" (wade-giles "ch'un") The argument that this is evidence for Genesis is as follows.[2]

  • 舟 on its own does mean a boat - "Zhou".
  • 八 is the logical number 8, ""ba"
  • 口 is the word for mouth, "kou", which CMI mistakenly translate to "people", "ren - 人".

The idea behind this setup is to suggest that the character refers to the eight people that were on the Ark: Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives. However, CMI is making a crucial mistake in disassembling the character completely. What they ignore is the fact that Chinese characters are not made up exclusively of components that provide a meaning, but also of phonetic radicals that are supposed to offer a clue as to how they're pronounced. In both of the cases above, they simply skip this part in order to extract the meaning they want from it. The first character does not feature 八 and 口 as separate components, but rather as the combination 㕣 yǎn, with the (irrelevant) meaning of "marsh". Likewise, the second one features 公 gōng, "public" as the additional component.

婪 - "Covet"

This is actually the adjective, greedy, not the verb, covet "垂涎". The two trees, actually is the symbol for forest, "lin", and the female character, "女" is "nu". This presumably has some kind of misogynistic association with women, possibly the creation story with Eve. Here the problem lies in that "lin" is not meant for semantic meaning, but, for phonetic (lin-lan). The "nu" section is the semantic portion (rather unfortunately, sexism is rampant in the characters, with "nu" used in many uncomplimentary ways, including ugly "妛" and "委" committee.[2]


  1. http://creation.com/chinese-characters-and-genesis The website itself
  2. 2.0 2.1 I am a native speaker of Chinese and Japanese
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