The two final volumes, authored by Paul U. Unschuld and Hermann Tessenow in collaboration with Jinsheng Zheng, have been published by University of California Press in July 2011 under the title Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen. An Annotated Translation of Huang Di’s Inner Classic – Pure Questions. They offer, in some 2200 printed pages, a complete and profusely annotated English translation of the Su wen based on rigid standards of philology, the first of its kind to be published. The authors have collected and evaluated more than 600 Chinese and Japanese monographs dating from over the past 1600 years, and close to 3000 articles written by Chinese authors in the 20th century, in addition to the work of Western scholars. Thanks to this rich material, a large number of alternative views and intepretations of the meanings of individual characters and shorter or longer text passages are included in the footnotes. Often views of Chinese and Japanese commentators of the past offer alternatives to the interpretations of the present edition. They have been cited to provide readers with as much information on the different readings and interpretations of the Su wen as possible.
The translation is based in the historical-anthropological approach championed by Paul U. Unschuld in his long-term research of the history of thought in Chinese medicine. It aims to elucidate the original images and metaphors in the Chinese terminology, thereby showing the close relationship between ancient Chinese society, culture and world views and understandings of the nature of disease and health. The translation also takes into account the fact that about two thirds of the textus receptus of the Su wen is a compilation. This textus receptus presumably dates from the first century CE, and is based upon excerpts or complete quotations from a large number of shorter texts written as early as the third or second century BCE. In the present translation, for the first time, an attempt has been made to reveal the different historical layers of the Su Wen in their structural relationships to the whole and to one another.
The appearance of the complete set of four volumes of the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen project marks the culmination of a pioneering effort. No other seminal text of ancient Chinese life sciences has been devoted as much scholarly attention as the Su Wen now has received. This new annotated English translation will offer readers in the West and in East Asia a wealth of stimuli for further research, with the ultimate goal of a better understanding of a core aspect of Chinese and East Asian culture. It will allow the Su Wen’s comparison with similar documents of ancient European civilisation.