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The Miracle of the Chinese Bible

The story of the Chinese Union Version (CUV), the most commonly used Chinese Bible today, speaks of the complexity, sacrifice and struggle involved in bringing God’s word to the people of China. The product of nine different translation teams working in multiple variations of the Chinese language, the CUV emerged at a pivotal time in China’s history. Had it come out too early, it might have been written in a style that would quickly make it obsolete. Had it been published any later, political developments might have brought the entire project to a halt.

While the Old Testament required 16 years to complete, and the New Testament another 13 years, the whole journey leading up to the final translation spanned nearly a century, culminating with the publication of the CUV in 1919.

In recognition of next year’s100th anniversary of the CUV, the autumn 2018 issue of ChinaSource Quarterly focuses on the Chinese Bible, both past and present. As they recount the miracle of the Chinese Bible, our contributors delve into questions such as:

  • How did China’s scriptural tradition set the stage for the introduction of the Chinese Bible?
  • Is the CUV still relevant for China’s church?
  • What about other translations?
  • Who actually completed the first translation of the Chinese Bible?
  • Why are there two different versions of the CUV?
  • Are there enough Bibles in China to meet the demand?
  • What role did Catholic scholars and missionaries play in Bible translation?
  • What can “mistakes” in the CUV teach us about undertaking translation projects in China today?

As Dr. Kevin Xiyi Yao writes in his article on the enduring impact of the CUV, the miracle of the Chinese Bible is seen not only in the arduous process by which it made its way into print, but in its survival and influence in the century since. In what he describes as a “truly mind-boggling and time-honored phenomena,” the Chinese Bible has risen to a position of authority in Chinese literature and played a key role in shaping Chinese Christianity worldwide. This, despite being subject to political and intellectual attack, banned from the marketplace, and burned during the Cultural Revolution.

Like the Chinese church itself, the Chinese Bible has not merely survived; it has flourished.

Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton is the founder of ChinaSource. Dr. Fulton served as the first president of ChinaSource until 2019. Prior to his service with ChinaSource, he served from 1995 to 2000 as the managing director of the Institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College. From 1987 to 1995 he served as founding …View Full Bio

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