Textual Authenticity and Timeline of the Laozi through the Guodian Bamboo Strips

Lile Yang


Discovery of the Guodian segments of the Dao De Jing provided important insights of the composition of the Dao De Jing. For given chapters that appeared in the Guodian edition, comparing texts that are missing in the Guodian version, but are present in the Wangbi and Mawangdui version suggests a particular scenario for the composition of the Dao De Jing. I hypothesize that there are three stages to the formation and transmission of the Dao De Jing. First, the Guodian text, only a third of the received length, is compiled with other raw material texts of equal weighting through horizontal transmission to form a prototype of the received edition. Then textual corruptions that are medium and small in size are vertically transmitted onto received texts in the second and third stages of textual transmission.


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