|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is organized in one series roughly arranged by material type: Primary Source Materials, Copies of Manuscripts; Secondary Source Materials, Published Books; and Correspondence and Pamphlets.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains primary and secondary source materials on the biographical history of Choi, his theological philosophies and writings, as well as detailed descriptions of the Methodist movement in Korea. The Choi papers include photocopies of Byung Hun Choi's original writings, written in Hanja. The subject of his writings are often theological in matter, some examining Protestant Christianity in relation to Catholicism, while other writings display his efforts to integrate Confucian philosophies with Christian theology. His publications reveal an interest in both Buddhism and Christianity. Other materials in the Choi papers are modern playbills, memorial service pamphlets, and other various leaflets that show Choi's influence on the Methodist culture in Korea today. Box 1 and box 2 contain copies of original manuscripts written by Choi written in Hanja. Two copies of manuscripts are not written by Choi, but were written by anonymous authors. The first is contained in box 1, folder 9 and is entitled "Biography of Choi Byung Hun Choi-Byung-HunSeon-Saeng-Yak-Jun," 1930. The second manuscript copy written by an anonymous author can be found in box 2, folder 1 and is entitled "Dr. Taksa Biography" [19??]. Box 3 contains published secondary sources materials that are written in either Korean or English, and Box 4 contains personal correspondence and pamphlets.
Burke Library record group:
Missionary Research Library Archives: MRL8, Korea
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.
Item description, MRL8: Byung Hun Choi papers, 1908-2008, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
MRL8: George Heber Jones papers, 1898-1918, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
MRL8: Henry Gerhard Appenzeller papers, 1883-1902, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Many of the items in the collection are copies of original manuscripts by Byung Hun Choi; the originals were destroyed in Korea during the 1950's when Choi's house was destroyed. The papers were donated in 2012 by Aiyoung Choi, former board member of Union Theological Seminary and great grand-daughter of Byung Hun Choi.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Metal clips and staples were removed from materials and folded items were flattened. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. The finding aid was created by Jessica Patterson and Brigette C. Kamsler in 2013 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2022.
2022-03-21 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Byung Hun Choi, also referred to as Taksa, was a Korean philosopher and theologian born in 1858. Choi was originally a Confucian scholar who was educated in Hanja. Hanja is a Korean written language form that adapts Mandarin Chinese characters conveying the spoken language of Korea. Many scholars at this time used Hanja, rather than Hangul which was considered a commoner's written language, even though most of the population of Korea at this time was illiterate. Choi was an advocate for Korean independence, and was also a proponent of stopping the corruption that was taking place in the royal court during this time period. In 1888, Choi became a language teacher to United States missionary George Heber Jones, who was working in Korea to convert the native population to Protestant Christianity. By teaching Jones Korean, Choi learned how to speak English. In 1893, Choi was baptized and began to assist Henry G. Appenzeller, a missionary from the United States, with his ministerial work in the Chungdong Cheil Church. In 1900, Choi, as well as a panel of other Korean scholars, assisted Jones as well as another United States missionary, Henry G. Appenzeller in translating the New Testament. In 1902, he was ordained a minister by the Northern Methodist Episcopal Church. Choi began editing publications, such as The Christian Advocate, The Theological World, and Biblical and Church Monthly. Choi retired from his position as pastor of the Chungdong Cheil Church in 1922, and lectured at Union Methodist Theological Seminary. In 1925, Choi published The Book of Genesis, thus beginning the Korean-Chinese Bible translation for the Old Testament. Byung Hun Choi is considered Korea's first theologian and one of Korea's first ordained Methodist ministers. Choi examined and tried to understand the Bible in the way he studied the Confucian sacred texts. He also strove to understand the place that Christianity held in the religious pluralistic environment of Korea. In 1901, an article written by Choi was published, marking the first theological writing that was created by a Korean. Choi followed the Culturopan-religious form of theology, in which the preexisting Korean culture could be accommodated. Some of the characteristics of this form of theology are the ability of the theologian to recognize the traditional Korean religious cultures, such as the Confucian culture, and correlate them with the imported Western theology. Also, this form of theology could recognize other religious cultures as legitimate religious forms in which one could experience the Christian notion of God. Choi would publish over sixty volumes in Chinese and Korean, as well as numerous articles in theological journals. Byung Hun Choi died in 1927.