The 10-juan long book was written as a kind of supplement to the "Confucian Analects" Lunyu 論語. Wang Su was an expert in the Confucian Classics and commentaries on them. The Kongzi jiayu also contains textual material on rituals, like marriage, funeral, offering and temple rites described or mentioned in books like the Lunyu, Zuozhuan 左傳, Guoyu 國語, Xunzi 荀子 and Da Dai Liji 大戴禮記. Wang directly associated these rituals with the name of Confucius and served himself of these sources to attack the eminent commentator Zheng Xuan 鄭玄, who had gained a preeminent status as interpreter of the meaning of Confucian texts.
It can be seen in many quotations that Wang Su intentionally ascribed the statements of ancient texts to Confucian persons or Confucius himself, in order to prove the wrongness of Zheng's theories. Wang affirmed to have been supported by Confucius' descendant Kong Meng 孔猛 in his novel, but 'correct' interpretation. Wang Su's arguments against Zheng Xuan were also assembled in his book Shengzhenglun 聖證論, which is only preserved in fragments. The teachings of Wang (Wangxue 王學) were at the time seen as a counterpart to the teachings of Zheng (Zhengxue 鄭學).
Inspite of its ideological purpose, the Kongzi jiayu has preserved some sources otherwise long since lost. The imperial bibliography Yiwenzhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書 lists a book called Kongzi jiayu, with a length of 27 juan. The commentary says that it was compiled by disciples of Confucius. It was lost at the end of the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE), and was virtually superseded by Wang Su's book, in spite of the improper intentions of this author.
Even Wang's fabricated "version" was rarely available during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), and the commentator He Mengchun 何孟春 (1474-1536) conceded that he had never seen a complete "original" version. There was a version in the library of a certain Master Xu 徐 from Fujian, and a version in the hands of Mao Jin 毛晉 (1599-1659). In the Xu version, which is lost today, quite a few pages were missing, and the text of both versions was different.
During the Qing period 清 (1644-1911), Sun Zhizu 孫志祖 (1737-1801) wrote a commentary, the Jiayu shuzheng 家語疏證.
The Kongzi jiayu is included in the series Baizi quanshu 百子全書, Ershierzi 二十二子 and Sibu beiyao 四部備要. In 1990 and 1991, the Shanghai guji Press 上海古籍出版社 published reprints of the Ming version, which was in turn based on a Song-period print.
The Kongzi jiayu has been partially translated by Robert Paul Kramers (1950), K'ung Tzu Chia Yu: The School Sayings of Confucius (Leiden: Brill).
|1.||相魯||Xiang Lu||Being councillor in Lu|
|3.||王言解||Wangyan||Royal words explained|
|4.||大昏解||Dahun||Explanation of the great marriage rite|
|5.||儒行解||Ruxing||The conduct of a Confucian explained|
|6.||問禮||Wenli||Questioning about the rites|
|7.||五儀解||Wuyi||Explanation of the five grades|
|8.||觀思||Guansi||Giving rein to thoughts|
|9.||三恕||Sanxu||Three ways of reciprocity|
|11.||觀周||Guan Zhou||Looking at the Duke of Zhou|
|12.||弟子行||Dizixing||The comportment of disciples|
|13.||賢君||Xianjun||Worthies and rulers|
|14.||辯政||Bianzheng||Disputes about politics|
|15.||六本||Liuti||The six roots|
|16.||辯物||Bianwu||Disputes about things|
|17.||哀公問政||Aigong wen zheng||Duke Ai asked about government|
|18.||顏回||Yan Hui||Disciple Yan Hui|
|19.||子路初見||Zilu chu jian||The first audience of Disciple Zilu|
|20.||在厄||Zai wei||In danger|
|22.||困誓||Kunshi||Oaths in difficulties|
|23.||五帝德||Wudide||The virtues of the Five Emperors|
|24.||五帝||Wudi||The Five Emperors|
|25.||執轡||Zhipei||Holding the reins|
|26.||本命解||Benxing||Explanation to the proper fate|
|28.||觀鄉射||Guanxiangshe||Regarding the district archery contest|
|29.||郊問||Jiaowen||Questions to the suburban sacrifice|
|30.||五刑解||Wuxing||Explanation of the five punishments|
|31.||刑政||Xingzheng||The politics of punishment|
|32.||禮運||Liyun||The conveyance of rites|
|33.||冠頌||Guansong||A hymn for the capping ceremony|
|34.||廟制||Miaozhi||The procedures in the ancestral temple|
|35.||辯樂解||Bianyue||Explanation to "Disputes about music"|
|36.||問玉||Wenyu||Questions to jade|
|37.||屈節解||Qujie||Explanation to "Withdrawal in sparingness"|
|38.||七十二弟子解||Qishier dizi||Explanation to the "Seventy-two Disciples"|
|39.||本姓解||Benxing||Explanation to the "Proper family name"|
|40.||終記解||Zhongji||Explanation to the "Records of the end"|
|41.||正論解||Zhenglun||Explanation to "Discussions about correctness"|
|42.||曲禮子貢問||Quli Zigong wen||Zigong's questions about the summary of the rites|
|43.||子貢問||Zigong wen||Disciple Zigong's questions|
|44.||公西赤問||Gongxi Chi wen||The questions of Disciple Gongxi Chi|