Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Lesson Analyzed - Battle of Changban

Mimajiao lessons were actually quite simple, consisting on three steps:

1.) The reading of the original story. The language was subtly changed to resemble the Bible passage to which it was being compared.
2.) The reading of the relevant passage.
3.) Questions and discussion. This portion typically drew upon Confucian pedagogy, in which the attendees gained knowledge through asking questions.

The first part is generally the most difficult. Chinese stories are written in very simple, stark terms - a far cry from the poetic language of the Bible. Rewritten versions of the original stories are among the only hard records of the movement, and they are extremely rare. Lacking a translator, I have no way of directly replicating a lesson here. Fortunately, there are enough former teachers with high proficiency in English to keep the accounts alive. The following is taken from two teachers who were active in 1979 and 1980. It uses the Battle of Changban to describe the fishes and loaves and water-walking miracles from Matthew 14:13-33:


While traveling South with his men, Liu Bei encountered a group of peasants who were fleeing the tyranny of Cao Cao. His officers came to him and said "These people are in need of aid, but we do not have the means to protect them. We should send them West, where Cao Cao will not follow." Liu Bei replied, "That should not be necessary. We shall bring them with us." Zhuge Liang was uncertain that they could support the peasants, but he put his trust in Liu Bei's judgment.

As they neared Changban Bridge, the weather grew rough, and their pursuers grew nearer. Zhuge Liang again instructed Liu Bei, "We can not shelter these men. Send them West, that they may find shelter." But Liu Bei replied, "Is it our skill that you doubt, or our righteousness?" With that, he dismounted his horse and gathered the peasants to cross the river. Zhuge Liang realized the righteousness of his master, and he took to Liu Bei's side.

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