These Bones Shall Rise Again

Selected Writings on Early China

By David N. Keightley
Edited by Henry Rosemont Jr.
Introduction by Henry Rosemont Jr.

Subjects: Religion, Cultural Anthropology, Chinese Studies, Chinese Religion And Philosophy, Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9781438447469, 360 pages, July 2015
Hardcover : 9781438447476, 360 pages, September 2014

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Table of contents

Transcription Conversion Table
Part I: What Makes China Chinese?
1. Archaeology and Mentality: The Making of China
2. Early Civilization in China: Reflections on How it Became Chinese
3. What Did Make the Chinese “Chinese”? Some Geographical Perspectives
Part II: Religion, Metaphysics, and Theology

4. The Religious Commitment: Shang Theology and the Genesis of Chinese Political Culture
5. Late Shang Divination: The Magico-Religious Legacy
6. Shang Divination and Metaphysics
7. The Making of The Ancestors: Late Shang Religion and Its Legacy
Part III: On Writing Inscriptions
8. Theology and the Writing of History: Truth and the Ancestors in the Wu Ding Divination Records
9. Marks and Labels: Early Writing in Neolithic and Shang China
Part IV: Early China/Early Greece
10. Clean Hands and Shining Helmets: Heroic Action in Early Chinese and Greek Culture
11. Epistemology in Cultural Context: Disguise and Deception in Early China and Early Greece
Part V: A Lighter Touch
12. Notes and Comments: “There Was an Old Man of Chang’an…”: Limericks and the Teaching of Early Chinese History
Bibliography of the Writings of David N. Keightley

David N. Keightley’s seminal essays on the origins of Chinese society are brought together in one volume.


These Bones Shall Rise Again, brings together in one volume many of David N. Keightley's seminal essays on the origins of early Chinese civilization. Written over a period of three decades and accessible to the non-specialist, these essays provide a wealth of information and insights on the Shang dynasty, traditionally dated 1766–1122 or 1056 BCE. Of all the eras of Chinese history, the Shang has been a particularly elusive one, long considered more myth than reality. A historian with a keen appreciation for anthropology and archaeology, Keightley has given us many descriptions of Shang life. Best known for his analysis of oracle bones, he has looked beyond the bones themselves and expanded his historical vision to ponder the lives of those who used them. What did the Shang diviner think he was doing? The temerity to ask such questions and the insights they have provided have been provocative and, at times, controversial. Equally intriguing have been Keightley's assertions that many of the distinctive features of Chinese civilization were already in evidence during the Shang, 3000 years ago. In this collection, readers will find not only an essential reference but also the best kind of thought-provoking scholarship.

David N. Keightley is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of The Ancestral Landscape: Time, Space, and Community in Late Shang China (ca. 1200–1045 B.C.) and Sources of Shang History: The Oracle-Bone Inscriptions of Bronze Age China, and the editor of The Origins of Chinese Civilization. Henry Rosemont Jr. is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at St. Mary's College of Maryland and currently Visiting Scholar of Religious Studies at Brown University. His books include Rationality and Religious Experience: The Continuing Relevance of the World's Spiritual Traditions and, with Roger T. Ames, The Chinese Classic of Family Reverence: A Philosophical Translation of the Xiaojing.


"…this book can help anyone who studies early China, providing a foundation for beginners and a fresh angle for experts." — Religious Studies Review

"…These Bones Shall Rise Again poses a powerful argument for the diachronic coherence of Chinese cultural history … Keightley's volume deserves a place in the discussion of how Sinology is to be construed and pursued in the coming decades." — Monumenta Serica