God's Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan

God's Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan

Jonathan D. Spence

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 0393315568

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"A magnificent tapestry . . . a story that reaches beyond China into our world and time: a story of faith, hope, passion, and a fatal grandiosity."--Washington Post Book World

Whether read for its powerful account of the largest uprising in human history, or for its foreshadowing of the terrible convulsions suffered by twentieth-century China, or for the narrative power of a great historian at his best, God's Chinese Son must be read. At the center of this history of China's Taiping rebellion (1845-64) stands Hong Xiuquan, a failed student of Confucian doctrine who ascends to heaven in a dream and meets his heavenly family: God, Mary, and his older brother, Jesus. He returns to earth charged to eradicate the "demon-devils," the alien Manchu rulers of China. His success carries him and his followers to the heavenly capital at Nanjing, where they rule a large part of south China for more than a decade. Their decline and fall, wrought by internal division and the unrelenting military pressures of the Manchus and the Western powers, carry them to a hell on earth. Twenty million Chinese are left dead.












dying Isaac asks, “Who art thou, my son?” and Jacob lies, “I am Esau thy firstborn,” completing the deception he has begun by donning Esau’s clothes, and placing the skins of the slain kids upon his arms and the soft skin of his neck, since Esau was “a hairy man” and Jacob a “smooth man.” In Hong’s version, the false hair is gone as well, and Jacob truthfully answers his father’s question with the words: “I am your second son Jacob, come to pay reverence to my father. Please sit up, and eat this

parents! How badly have I returned the favour of your love to me! I shall never attain a name that may reflect its lustre upon you.”35 Hong’s wife, too, is weeping by the bed, and to her Hong says, “You are my wife. You must not remarry. You are now pregnant and we do not know whether you will bear a son or daughter. If it is a son, let my elder brothers look after you, and do not remarry. If it is a daughter, do likewise.”36 Hong lies back on the bed, too weak to say more, and the family

also by the tragic sight, Hong asks his father, “Father, if they are as bad as this, why don’t you destroy them?” Because, comes the reply, the devil demons not only fill the world; they have forced their way even into the thirty-three layers of heaven itself. “But father,” Hong asks again, “your power is so vast that you can give life to those you want to have life, and death to those you think should die. Why then allow them to force their way in here?” “Wait,” says the father. “Let them do

is to say, through the compact, they will be able to gather together all their resources, and make the best possible use of them.27 To refine the categories properly, the same village regulations stated, one had to distinguish those who are truly “talented and knowledgeable” from those who are “foolish and cowardly” or “violent.” Associated categories separated out those “who know things” from “those who are afraid of things” and those “who like things to happen”—the implication being that this

high-brimmed hat, and golden beard, as Hong too saw Him.42 They see the chief of the devil demons, square-headed and red-eyed, and learn that he is indeed the same as the demon devil of the Eastern Sea and the devil king on earth they call Yan Luo.43 As God did to Moses on the Mount at Sinai, writing the tablets of the laws “with His own hand,” so now “with His own hand” he identifies the demon king to Heaven’s travelers.44 And not unlike the way Jacob wrestled with the angel through the night

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