The Tao Te Ching (/ˈdaʊ ˈdɛ ˈdʒɪŋ/ DOW DEH JING), also known by its pinyin romanization Dao De Jing, is a Chinese classic text traditionally credited to the 6th-century BC sage Laozi. The text's authorship, date of composition and date of compilation are debated. The oldest excavated portion dates back to the late 4th century BC, but modern scholarship dates other parts of the text as having been written—or at least compiled—later than the earliest portions of the Zhuangzi.
More than five dozen translations of the Tao te Ching exist in English, making it questionable whether there is a need for yet another. But Stephen Hodge's Tao te Ching: A New Translation and Commentary is revisionist enough to warrant a look. He spends a good part of the introduction situating Lao Tzu's work in the context of the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.E.), even to the point of neglecting to tell the reader much about the content of the text itself. He also discusses the perplexing question of authorship and outlines various translation difficulties. The remainder of the book is more accessible, and is organized thematically to help the reader understand the Tao te Ching's key ideas. Hodge writes well, and the book is beautifully designed with more than 100 photographs and illustrations.