The establishment of official examination in the Ming Dynasty is the key of canonization of the Four Books. Yongle Emperor, Chengzu of Ming Dynasty, decreed to compile Encyclopaedia of the Four Books. With the imperial authority, scholars changed their way of pursuing studies when the Four Books transcended the Five Classics and became the core of the Confucian Philosophy. Through
investigating the texts, putting them in order, and reviewing the process of compiling, the value of
Encyclopaedia of the Four Books is revealed. According to the content and quotations, there are three main systems in this works. First, the system of Zhu Xi and his disciples, which is the combination and confirmation of Zhu' s interpretation. Second, different statements of different academic systems, for example, the systems of Shuang-Fong and Bei-Shan. Third, the scholars in Xin-An system, whose
main work is reverting to Zhu’s own analysis. From inheritance to divergence, and then from divergence to coalescence, the three systems interacted with each other. Encyclopaedia of the Four Books inherited the achievement of Yuan scholars’ annotation in the Xin-An system, on one hand, and dealt with the argument between Xin-An system and the other two systems, Shuang-Fong and Bei-Shan, on the other hand. The complex relationship between different systems actually let us know the threads of schools, sects, and affections of clan. Huang Gan, Chen Chun, and other
disciples of Zhu Xi had inherited Zhu’s study, which was separated into different schools later, and the scholars of
Xin-An insisted on their legitimacy. In the connection between Song and Yuan, threads of schools have divided increasingly. The academic thought was not only diverged but also spread over. The persuasion of defending Zhu Xu’s study brought out the core of ordinance and the orthodox of Zhu’s own annotation, which became the key factor of official study and the main direction of reconstruction of
the context of Encyclopaedia of the Four Books. In fact, the interpretation of mind and principle became the Ming scholars’ foundation of knowing Zhu’s study. Former scholars did not deeply research on the mind and principle, which was the absent part of the development of the Zhu’s
study. Many works of Yuan scholars were lost, hence, the clues were vague. In this paper, I will collect and compare the texts, in order to give a clear explanation.