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  • 2 person found this review helpful

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    Serious Misrepresentation of Watchman Nee

    This book seriously misrepresented the teachings of Watchman Nee by making three false claims about him. First, Yu claimed that Nee insisted that nephesh can ONLY be translated as soul (pp. 2, 176). This, however, is a claim that Nee never made. A study of Nee’s The Spiritual Man shows that Nee was advocating that the Hebrew and Greek words nephesh/psuche and ruach/pneuma (commonly translated as “soul” and “spirit” in English) should be distinguished in the Chinese translation, which has traditionally blurred the distinction of the two by translating them into the same common word in Chinese, ling-hun, literally “spirit-soul.” In fact, in chapter 1 and 2 of The Spiritual Man, Nee specifically said, twice, that nephesh/psuche CANNOT be always translated as “soul.” Thus, Yu’s fundamental premise for her whole argument against Nee—that Nee insisted that nephesh can only be translated as soul—was simply false. Second, Yu alleged that Nee taught trichotomy—spirit, soul, and body—because he misunderstood the meaning of nephesh and the principle of literal translation (pp. 2, 176). This is also false on several accounts: 1) Anyone who has studied the works of Nee know that Nee’s tripartite anthropology is not based on any single verse, let alone the interpretation of one word, but is based on the entire Bible as well as the theological tradition of tripartite anthropology (for example, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tripartite_(theology)). 2) Nee in The Spiritual Man (chs. 1 and 2) clearly shows that he understood the multiple meanings of nephesh, and therefore, in explaining the translation of this word into "soul" in Chinese, he defines soul as having multiple meanings, including the meaning of “the whole person.” 3) Similarly, regarding the principle of literal translation, The Spiritual Man clearly shows that Nee's understanding of nephesh is much more nuanced than the way Yu portrayed. According to Nee in chapter 1 of The Spiritual Man, the spirit, soul, and body of man are clearly said to be interrelated and joined together as one, not as three separable entities. In other words, Nee’s tripartite anthropology can be called a “holistic tripartite anthropology,” without any part being dispensable. While Nee in his later works did talk about the "breaking of the outer man," that is talking about the need for the fallen, rebellious part of man to be disciplined, "broken" by God, to be brought into full submission to God so that man's entire being can become one with God to express God. This is simply a different way of speaking of the sanctification of the believers. This real meaning of the "breaking of the outer man", however, is entirely ignored and misrepresented by Yu. 4) Yu's claim that Nee has “misunderstood” the principle of literal translation (pp. 2, 176) is based on her false claim that Nee insisted that nephesh/psuche can only be translated as “soul”, while he never made such a claim. Third, Yu claims that Nee’s teaching on tripartite man has [simulated] “Chinese Christians’ negative attitude towards the physical part of life in this world” (p. 2) and “[given] rise to the negative attitude towards this world among Chinese Christians” (p. 177). This is both unfounded and untrue. The Bible teaches that “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15) and that “do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever determines to be a friend of the world is constituted an enemy of God" (James 4:4). How does Yu know that Chinese Christians have a "negative" view toward the world not because of Bible verses like these, but because of Nee's teaching? These kinds of false and groundless claims have tarnished an otherwise noble effort to explore intergenerational and literary Bible translation.
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    Be very careful what you read

    I do not recommend this book for the following reason: It’s a common sense that before you comment on a book, you have to read it carefully; before you comment on someone’s teachings, you have to at least remember what he/she has said and has not said. Surprisingly, the author of this book somehow failed to do so! The main supporting idea for her argument is based on her misunderstanding of Nee’s book and his teaching. Her view of The Spiritual Man reveals her “eisegesis” into other’s work. Yu used what Nee has never said as the “straw man” and collected unsubstantiated information to support her fallacious argument. On p.176 Yu claimed that "[Nee] maintains that [nephesh] as ‘魂hun (soul)’ is the only appropriate rendering." In footnote 9 on the same page, Yu contended that “[Nee] argues that ‘魂hun (soul)’ is the only meaning of [nephesh].” Also, Yu made the same claim on p. 2 where she wrote, "[Nee] insisted that the only appropriate translation of [nephesh] is ‘魂 hun (soul). ’" Nee, however, has never said so in his book. Rather, Nee pointed out clearly that nephesh has various meanings. For example, in The Collected Work of Watchman Nee (Set 1) Vol.12: The Spiritual Man (1), Ch.2 (available at www.ministrybooks.org), Nee wrote, “In the above passages, the word life is ‘soul’ in the original language. But we cannot translate it as soul, for that would not make sense. The reason there is this kind of usage is that the soul is man's life.” Also, in the same chapter Nee said, “The above examples show that in these cases, if we translate the word [nephesh] into ‘soul’ or ‘life,’ it would become meaningless. The only way is to translate it as himself, oneself, or themselves.” It still puzzles me, therefore, why Yu did not read the book she commented on? Why she misguided the reader to believe something Nee has never said? So, here is a warning to everyone who buys this book: Be very careful what you read.
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