As we all know, 道 is an important concept in classical Chinese, meaning "the way" in the metaphorical sense. It is a central concept in Taoism, but it was also used in Buddhism and Confucianism to designate the proper attitude, habits and behaviour.

I was wondering if the same word was used in classical Chinese translations of the Bible, and it seems it was not. I used John 14:6 as to test that:

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

In a classical Chinese version of the Bible it is translated as:


And here comes my question: does 途 here have basically the same meaning as 道, or is there a significant difference between the two terms? Would it be possible to change one into another in this context without changing its meaning?

  • 1
    和合本 uses 道路 in this instance. 途 and 道 are pretty much the same here considering the style - classical/ancient Chinese. Modern contexts would change the meaning quite a bit, though.
    – Mou某
    Sep 3, 2014 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


sometimes it's the same but not all the time.

say, 道路 and 路途, here they mean the same thing, the way or road.

however, in the history of China, 道 has more meaning than it appears. as you know, Taoism begins with the discussion of 道. it means the essence of the universe.

another example is 道不同不相为谋, here 道 actually means the choice of life. 途 won't express the same meaning. say, 仕途 means the the life as a officer. if you feel the meaning of the word, you can feel that 道 is more likely to stress the choice made by person and 途 will emphasize the thing it is.

道 can mean morality too. this character is rich. we can discuss it all day long, but 途 won't be.

  • According to your explanation, 道 should work better than 途 as a translation of "way" in the words of Jesus, as there is a choice that the follower needs to make, and it certainly also has a moral aspect. What do you think?
    – 米好 '-'
    Sep 4, 2014 at 11:23
  • @michau absolutely better. i hardly see 途 refers to a mental related topic. it's more realistic.
    – Jason Hu
    Sep 4, 2014 at 13:39

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