Blog Entries

A Dictionary for Learning Theological Chinese

From the series Jackson Wu on Contextualization


Kingdom Speak《国度语汇》by Jo Ann Yau and Qiu Sheng Lung. Hong Kong: Tien Dao Publishing House, 2019, 184 pages, ISBN: 978-988-8279-70-8.

Books, videos, podcasts, and whatever other resources are out there for helping people learn Mandarin—everyone has their favorite suggestions. For newbies, I always recommend the Chinese Made Easier series.

Many Mandarin students spend years trying to learn the basics of daily language and only scratch the surface when it comes to spiritual vocabulary, especially theological language.

Of course, nearly every sending organization has a packet of terms compiled by experienced, in-house workers. Still, I have found many of those documents to be rather general, looking at religious language rather than theological or biblical terminology. While multiple resources exist to explain theology in Chinese, such as theological dictionaries, one must have a strong foundation in understanding Chinese characters in order to glean more advanced concepts. (Here is a basic but free downloadable Chinese theological dictionary).

In this post, I want to spotlight a fantastic resource specifically designed for English speakers who do cross-cultural ministry to Chinese speakers. It is a dictionary of Chinese vocabulary and prayers in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese.

A few features make this resource stand out.

  1. It includes both Mandarin and Cantonese characters.
  2. It’s laid out in a very easy-to-read manner.
  3. The dictionary contains pinyin in addition to Chinese characters, making it usable for both veterans and newer workers.
  4. The second half of the dictionary contains numerous prayers, key phrases, etc. that are helpful for people in actual ministry contexts. I can envision cross-cultural workers returning to this section again and again.

Previously, I’ve written several posts aiming to help readers increase their competency in a few specialized areas of conversation. For example:

In addition, I offered a free resource listing all the Chinese characters in the New Testament of the Chinese Union Version (CUV), i.e. the 和合本.

Finally, a couple of posts explore ideas for teaching theology in Mandarin, here and here. Many of the suggestions are applicable to people who teach theology in other languages as well.

This post is also available at Jackson Wu: Doing Theology. Thinking Mission.

Image credit: Cristina Macia from Pixabay.
Jackson Wu

Jackson Wu

Jackson Wu (pseudonym) has a PhD in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, having earned an MDiv (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), MA (Philosophy, Texas A&M), and a BS (Applied Mathematics, Texas A&M). Wu is theologian-in-residence for Mission One, having previously served in East Asia first as a church planter and then …View Full Bio


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