The Book of Jin is an official Chinese historical text covering the history of the Jin dynasty from 266 to 420. It was compiled in 648 by a number of officials commissioned by the imperial court of the Tang dynasty, with chancellor Fang Xuanling as the lead editor, drawing mostly from official documents left from earlier archives. A few essays in volumes 1, 3, 54 and 80 were composed by the Tang dynasty's Emperor Taizong himself. However, the contents of the Book of Jin included not only the history of the Jin dynasty, but also that of the Sixteen Kingdoms period, which was contemporaneous with the Eastern Jin dynasty.
|Author||Fang Xuanling et al|
|Subject||Ancient Chinese history (Jin dynasty)|
|Book of Jin|
Over 20 histories of the Jin had been written during the Northern and Southern dynasties, of which 18 were still extant at the beginning of the Tang dynasty. Yet Emperor Taizong deemed them all to be deficient and ordered the compilation of a new standard history for the period, as part of a wider six-history project to fill in the gaps between the Records of the Three Kingdoms, the Book of Song, the Book of Qi, the Book of Wei and the Emperor's own time. As part of this ambition, its treatises cover not only the Jin but also the preceding Three Kingdoms, making up for the lack of such a section in the Records of the Three Kingdoms.
The book was hastily compiled between 646 CE and 648, by a committee of 21 people led by editor-in-chief Fang Xuanling. As some chapters were written by Emperor Taizong of Tang, the work is sometimes given the honorific "imperially authored".
The Book of Jin had the longest gestation period of any official history, not seeing the light of day until 229 years after the end of the dynasty it describes.
|Volume 1||帝紀第1 宣帝||Emperor Xuan||Sima Yi (Western Jin)|
|Volume 2||帝紀第2 景帝 文帝||Emperor Jing; Emperor Wen||Sima Shi, Sima Zhao|
|Volume 3||帝紀第3 武帝||Emperor Wu||Sima Yan|
|Volume 4||帝紀第4 惠帝||Emperor Hui||Sima Zhong|
|Volume 5||帝紀第5 懷帝 愍帝||Emperor Huai; Emperor Min||Sima Chi, Sima Ye|
|Volume 6||帝紀第6 元帝 明帝||Emperor Yuan; Emperor Ming||Sima Rui, Sima Shao (Eastern Jin)|
|Volume 7||帝紀第7 成帝 康帝||Emperor Cheng; Emperor Kang||Sima Yan, Sima Yue|
|Volume 8||帝紀第8 穆帝 哀帝 海西公||Emperor Mu; Emperor Ai; Duke of Haixi||Sima Dan, Sima Pi, Sima Yi|
|Volume 9||帝紀第9 簡文帝 孝武帝||Emperor Jianwen; Emperor Xiaowu||Sima Yu, Sima Yao|
|Volume 10||帝紀第10 安帝 恭帝||Emperor An; Emperor Gong||Sima Dezong, Sima Dewen|
|Volume 11||志第1 天文上||Astronomy Part One|
|Volume 12||志第2 天文中||Astronomy Part Two|
|Volume 13||志第3 天文下||Astronomy Part Three|
|Volume 14||志第4 地理上||Geography Part One|
|Volume 15||志第5 地理下||Geography Part Two|
|Volume 16||志第6 律歷上||Rhythm and the Calendar Part One|
|Volume 17||志第7 律歷中||Rhythm and the Calendar Part Two|
|Volume 18||志第8 律歷下||Rhythm and the Calendar Part Three|
|Volume 19||志第9 禮上||Rites Part One|
|Volume 20||志第10 禮中||Rites Part Two|
|Volume 21||志第11 禮下||Rites Part Three|
|Volume 22||志第12 樂上||Music Part One|
|Volume 23||志第13 樂下||Music Part Two|
|Volume 24||志第14 職官||Government Service|
|Volume 25||志第15 輿服||Travel and Dress|
|Volume 26||志第16 食貨||Food and Commodities|
|Volume 27||志第17 5行上||Five Elements Part One|
|Volume 28||志第18 5行中||Five Elements Part Two|
|Volume 29||志第19 5行下||Five Elements Part Three|
|Volume 30||志第20 刑法||Punishment and Law|
The book has been criticized for being more reflective of the court politics in the Tang dynasty that compiled it, rather than the realities of the Jin dynasty itself.
Despite Fang's team having at their disposal not only the pre-existing Jin histories, but also a large body of actual Jin primary sources, it appears that the book was primarily based on Zang Rongxu's (臧荣绪) identically-titled Jinshu from the Southern Qi, and further incorporates material from fictionalized novels. The Tang historian Liu Zhiji (661–721) accused the editors of generally selecting the sources that had the most vivid and compelling language, rather than the ones that were the most historically reliable.
The collaborative nature of the project coupled with the rushed production time unsurprisingly leaves the book with a number of internal contradictions and editorial errors; such as misspelled personal and place names, draft-like and unpolished language, and "cross-references" to non-existent chapters that were presumably planned but never finished in time for publication.
In spite of these shortcomings, the Book of Jin is recognized as the most important primary source for the Jin dynasty and Sixteen Kingdoms, because the pre-existing histories and other sources it was compiled from have all been lost – save for a few stray quotations in other works.
No complete translations are known at this time. The astronomical chapters (11, 12 & 13) were translated by Ho Peng Yoke. Choo translates the biography of Huan Wen in volume 98 and the biography of Sun Chuo in volume 56. Knapp translates biographies of Liu Yin in volume 88 and Huangfu Mi in volume 51.
- ^ a b Fang, Xuanling ed.(2002). Jinshu 晋书. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju 中华书局. Preface, p. 1
- ^ a b Fang (2002). Preface p. 2
- ^ Fang (2002). Preface p. 4
- ^ Wilkinson, Endymion (2018), Chinese History: A New Manual. Self-published. p. 690.
- ^ Wilkinson (2018) pp. 816–817
- ^ a b Fang (2002). Preface p. 3
- ^ Ho Peng Yoke, The Astronomical Chapters of the Chin Shu, with Amendments, Full Translation and Annotations (Paris/The Hague, Mouton & Co., 1966).
- ^ Choo, Jessey Jiun-Chyi (2014). "Return to the North? The Debate on Moving the Capital back to Luoyang". In Swartz, Wendy; Campany, Robert Ford; Lu, Yang; Choo, Jessey Jiun-Chyi (eds.). Early Medieval China: A Sourcebook (e-book ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 47–56.
- ^ Knapp, Keith N (2014). "Confucian Views on the Supernatural". In Swartz, Wendy; Campany, Robert Ford; Lu, Yang; Choo, Jessey Jiun-Chyi (eds.). Early Medieval China: A Sourcebook (e-book ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 665–676.
- Book of Jin 《晉書》 Chinese text with matching English vocabulary