The New Chinese Bible Center, WBS’s predecessor, came into existence in 1972. Back then, some Chinese church leaders saw a need to faithfully translate from the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek languages into one using contemporary easy-to-read Chinese, for an essentially evangelical faith with a view of exalting Christ, thus the then four-fold motto expressed!
As a result, a team of approximately 100 prominent Chinese Bible scholars and language experts from all over the world took part in this long and arduous task. Under the great leadership of Revs. Drs. Philip Teng, John Pao, Samuel Tang, the late James Taylor III, Timothy Lin, Andrew Song, Wu Ming Chieh, etc., the Center then commissioned Rev. Paul Yung to be General Secretary, charged to coordinate the work among numerous translators, reviewers, and panelists.
By God’s grace, the whole project was completed in 1992. Hence the Chinese New Version (CNV), the first ever Chinese Bible translated by the Chinese themselves from the original biblical languages, was born and published in that same year by the Tien Dao Publishing House. Several million copies of this CNV Bible, either in the format of individual gospel booklets, or just the New Testament, or the complete Old and New Testaments, had been distributed since the first release of the single booklet, the Gospel of John, in 1972.
Vision & Mission
Who we are is determined by what we are caused to see and called to do by our Master. The best encapsulation of the identity of The Worldwide Bible Society, WBS can be found in the new motto that emerged in 2011 for the celebration of our 10th Anniversary:
1. We do Bible translation with the kingdom perspective, therefore we go beyond making “a” new Chinese translation for the Chinese only; but rather, we embrace and strive to serve the ethnic minority groups in China as well;
2. Just as we cross different national and cultural borders to advance God’s Word, we provide Bible seminar teaching with various themes to leaders of different backgrounds so that these trained workers will carry the deep-seated Word of God in their hearts all their lives.
- Develop servant-leaders to use the skill to correctly divide God’s Word
- Give equal prominence to working among unreached non-Chinese as among Chinese
- Network strategically with like-minded individuals and organizations
- Use contextualized measures for global and kingdom effect
CNV’s Brief History
Missionaries from the West did make an enormous contribution in the translation of the Chinese bible. One hundred and twelve years after Rev Robert Morrison had come to the East, the translation and publication of the first Mandarin Bible called the “Chinese Union Version” in 1919 marked the pinnacle of success on the one hand; yet on the other, it called for an effort to emulate by rising generations of Chinese biblical scholars on such a significant task. The half century afterwards witnessed tidal waves of war that brought changes on the political front. Equally, great variations were found at the language level. In the span of these years, new archaeological discoveries were made and studies of modern linguistics enquired. Thus, biblical scholars were driven to make refreshing and in-depth journeys into the original biblical languages. In addition, more authoritative texts gained recognition thanks to the advance of the textual criticism discipline, providing intellectual insight simply unattainable 50 or 60 years ago. Amazingly, out of this state of affairs emerged a horde of outstanding Chinese scholars who made it possible to embark upon a new Chinese translation project in 1972.
Those who were involved included more than 30 bible college presidents, deans and lecturers, 10 plus church overseers, pastors and elders across denominations, and a handful of Chinese language experts, all teamed up to share loads of work ranging from translation, consultation, revision to linguistic embellishment. The collective effort advanced toward the 3-fold goals of faithful rendering, communicative adaptation and elegant portrayal. Having marshaled church-wide feedback followed by the last round of scrutinization by still more seasoned biblical scholars, the project delivered proudly its advents of CNV New Testament in 1976 and its Old Testament counterpart in 1992. Indeed, since then the global Chinese community has been presented a work of bible translation that is faithful to original texts, easy to understand, essentially evangelical in faith and Christ-exalting all at once.
What is more, 2001 saw the Turn-of-the-Century Edition. High-calibered bible professors were invited to produce additional book introductions and chapter outlines in order to assist readers to understand and fully appreciate God’s Word. In pursuit of excellence and at better service to the next generations, the Chinese New Version has never ceased to make noticeable progress and necessary adaptation from print to print. To ensure this work of dedication, the Worldwide Bible Society was established in 2001 to undertake the tasks of serious promulgation and extensive publication.
The CNV: Its Characteristics
Here below are the four-fold characteristics of the CNV Bible:
1. Truly Faithful to Scripture’s Original Languages
- Accurate; strive for precision
- Observe original languages’ linguistic aspects; avoid both omission and addition
- Where differentiation dictates, effort remains to keep the original in place and the central meaning intact
- Avoid fussiness in expression
2. Highly Readable
- Adopt easy-to-read-and-understand approach
- Apply discretion in eliminating use of obsolete vocabularies and expressions
- Choose appropriate modern terminologies that enhance communication
3. & 4. Essentially Evangelical in Faith for the Exaltation of Christ
- Match with the general theological flow of the whole Bible
- Keep in mind of the full deity and humanity of Christ and the full redemption of His work