The Chinese Language and the Book of Mormon
By Raymond C. Treat
In 1979 a book titled The Discovery of Genesis by C. H. Kong and Ethel R. Nelson was printed by Concordia Publishing House. In this book, some of the characters of the Chinese language are broken up into their original parts and the meanings of these parts are given. Many of the characters in Chinese especially those representing more abstract words, have been constructed using two or more simpler characters. For example, the Chinese character for airport is made up of two characters, one meaning airplane and the other meaning land. Rev. Kong and Dr. Nelson show that by knowing the meanings of the simpler characters or radicals that make up some of the more complex characters, we can demonstrate that many of the details of the Book of Genesis were known to those who first invented the Chinese language which is estimated to be about 2500 B.C. Before illustrating this in more detail, we shall first see how this book came to be written.
The Origin of the Book
Some 40 years ago, Rev. Kong, who is a native Chinese Christian minister, was distributing tracts of the story of creation in a mission hospital. Returning to visit one patient's room he was challenged by an educated Chinese lady who thought the Genesis story was a good fairy tale suitable for children "but hardly worth an adult's time!" Evolution was the adult and proper version of the story of creation.
At that time (1940's) Rev. Kong did not have the scientific evidence which is available today to meet this lady's challenge. This upset him and he struggled with the problem for days before the answer come to him. He recoiled a comment in a Mandarin textbook that had been used by a missionary. In a footnote, the Chinese character meaning boat (fig. 1) had been broken up into its original parts and their meanings given as "eight-mouth or person-vessel." A handwritten comment in the book referred to the fact that eight people in a vessel was a description of Noah's ark. It became obvious to Rev. Kang that unless this was a coincidence there should be other evidence from the Bible locked into the Chinese characters. Rev. Kong quickly found such evidence. This inspired him to begin a life-long study. He first published some of his findings in Hong Kong in 1950. This book come to the attention of Dr. Nelson who was a medical missionary in Bankok, Thailand. She found the information in the book to be very useful in her work with Thai and Chinese students.
After returning to the United States, the son of Dr. Nelson "just happened" to go to the same school as the grandson of Rev. Kong which enabled her to obtain his address. She wrote to him telling of her experience with his book and offering assistance to have the book reprinted for a larger audience. His reply included information about many additional characters that he had researched since publishing the book. This began the collaboration that has culminated in the book that is available to us today.