Er Cheng yishu 二程遺書 "Remnant books of the two Cheng brothers", also called Henan Chengshi yishu 河南程氏遺書, is a collection of writings by the brothers and two Northern Song-period 北宋 (960-1126) philosophers Cheng Hao 程顥 (1032-1085) and Cheng Yi 程頤 (1033-1107). The latter compiled more writings than his older brother. The two are the most important representatives of the formative stage of Neo-Confucianism. Their writings are to be found in a lot of various collections, and besides the Yishu, there are also the books Er Cheng waishu 二程外書, Mingdao wenji 明道文集 "Collected writings of Mingdao [i.e. Cheng Hao]", Yichuan wenji 伊川文集 "Collected writings of Yichuan [i.e. Cheng Yi]" and Chengshi jingshuo 程氏經說 "Explanations to the Classics by the Masters Cheng". All these books were united in the collection Er Cheng quanshu 二程全書 "Complete writings of the two Cheng brothers".
The imperial bibliography in the official dynastic history Songshi 宋史 only lists the book Zhongyong yi 中庸義 "The meaning of the Doctrine of the Mean" as a writing of Cheng Hao, as well as 16 different writings by Cheng Yi. The collected writings contain inscriptions (ming 銘), poems (shi 詩), notes (ji 記), letters (shu 書), declarations (qi 啟), memorials and official documents (zou 奏, shu 疏, biao 表), tomb inscriptions (muzhi 墓誌) and conduct descriptions (xingzhuang 行狀), sacrificial texts (jiwen 祭文), educational instructions (xuezhi 學制), as well as biographical data (jiazhuan 家傳) of the two brothers.
The 25 juan-long collection Er Cheng yishu is divided into three parts, first the collected sayings of the two brothers (Er xiansheng yu 二先生語 or Er xiansheng yulu 二先生語錄 "The discourses of the two masters"). Those attributed to Cheng Hao are marked with the character ming 明, those attributed to Cheng Yi with the character zheng 正. Some paragraphs are not marked at all. The Yulu is quite similar to the "Confucian Analects" Lunyu, a style later also used by the disciples of Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200) in the compilation Zhuzi yulei 朱子語類. The Yulu is followed by the Mingdao xiansheng yu 明道先生語 "Discourses of Master Mingdao" (Cheng Hao) and the Yichuan xiansheng yu 伊川先生語 "Discourses of Master Yinchuan" (Cheng Yi).
After the death of Cheng Hao and Cheng Yi, their sayings were collected by a large number of disciples and schoalrs, like Lü Dalin 呂大臨 (1044-1091), Xie Liangzuo 謝良佐 (1050-1103), You Zuo 游酢 (1053-1123) or Liu Xun 劉絢 (1045-1087), but never found their way into one coherent book. A further problem was that the statements of the disciples often contradicted each other or the original teachings of the Cheng brothers. The Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) scholar Zhu Xi therefore revised the collected writings in circulation of the two brothers. The collected writings of the Cheng brothers permanently underwent revision so that there were version of different sizes and contents in circulation. The received version, for example, is 25 juan-long in total (including an appendix), but Huang Zhen 黄震 (1213-1281) speaks of a version of 17 juan length, with a different order of the writings.
The Er Cheng yishu is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Sibu beiyao 四部備要. The best prints were made during the Chenghua 成化 (1465-1487), Jiajing 嘉靖 (1522-1566) and Wanli 萬曆 (1573-1619) reigns. Master Tu 涂氏 from Lu'an 六安 (sic) produced a text-critical edition.
|二先生語 (二程語錄) Er xiansheng yu (Er Cheng yulu) 1-10|
|1.||端伯傳師説||Ruibo chuan shi shuo|
|2.||元豐己未吕與叔東見二先生語||Fengyuan jiwei Lü Yushu Dongjian er xiansheng lu|
|2.||(附)東見録後||Fu: Dong jian lu hou|
|3.||謝顯道記憶平日語||Xie Xiandao jiyi pingri lu|
|4.-8.||游定夫所録||You ding fu suo lu|
|9.||少日所聞諸師友説||Shaori suo wen zhu shi you shuo|
|明道先生語 Mingdao xiansheng yu 1-4|
|12.||戊冬見伯淳先生洛中所聞||Xu dong jian Bochun xiansheng Luozhong suo wen|
|13.||亥八月見先生於洛所聞||Hai ba yue jian xiansheng yu Luo suo wen|
|14.||亥九月過汝所聞||Hai jiuyue guo ru suo wen|
|伊川先生語 Yichuan xiansheng lu 1-11|
|16.-17.||己巳冬所聞||Jisi dong suo wen|
|18.||劉元承手編||Liu Yuancheng shou bian|
|19.||楊遵道録||Yang Zundao lu|
|20.||周伯忱本||Zhou Boshen ben|
|23.||鮑若雨録||Bao Ruoyu lu|
|24.||鄒徳久本||Zou Dejiu ben|
|25.||暢濳道本||Chang Qiandao ben