The Translation of the Bible into Chinese: The Origin and Unique Authority of the Union Version

By Ann Cui'an Peng

The history of the Chinese Union Version, set against the broader history of Chinese Bible translation.

ISBN: 9780718896539


The publication of the Chinese Union Version (CUV) in 1919 was the culmination of a hundred years of struggle by Western missionaries working closely with Chinese assistants to produce a translation of the Bible fit for the needs of a growing church. Celebrating the CUV’s centennial, The Translation of the Bible into Chinese explores the unique challenges faced by its translators in the context of the history of Chinese Bible translation.

Ann Cui’an Peng’s personal experience of the role played by the CUV in Chinese Christian communities lends the narrative particular weight, while her role as director of the Commission on Bible Publication at the China Christian Council offers a unique insight into the continuing legacy of the CUV for Bible translators today.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 240
Illustrations 8 b&w

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Ann Cui’an Peng is a senior associate with the Global China Center and serves as associate editor for the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity. She was co-translator for the GCC series Salt and Light: Lives of Faith that Shaped Modern China. Peng received her PhD in theology from the University of Birmingham in 2007. She served as vice principal and lecturer in the 1990s at Nanjing Theological Seminary, where she had studied in the 1980s.


Illustrations and Sources
Note on Language


Part I: A Historical Survey of Chinese Bible Translation
1. The Beginnings of Chinese Bible Translation
2. The Early Protestant Translations
3. The Union Version Project

Part II: The Evolution of the Mandarin Union Version
4. Translations
5. Revisions

Part III: Probing the Authority of the Union Version and Its Challenges
6. Unique Significance
7. Contemporary Challenges


Appendix 1: Comparison of The Chinese Bible Contents of Protestant with Roman Catholic
Appendix 2: Three Executive Committees of The Union Version Project
Appendix 3: Protestant Chinese Bible Translation in Three Stages
Appendix 4: A List of Chinese Assistants in the History of Chinese Protestant Missionary Bible Translation
Appendix 5: Questionnaire for Chinese Bible Readers
Appendix 6: A List of Union Versions Translators with their Chinese Names

About the Author


Endorsements and Reviews

Ann Cui’an Peng offers us the remarkable history of Chinese Bible translation, the debates around creating the authoritative Chinese Union Version, and the challenges this tenacious version continues to pose to its readers today, a century after its first publication. An incredibly important book about the most important book of Chinese Christianity.
Alexander Chow, Senior Lecturer in Theology and World Christianity, University of Edinburgh

This well-timed volume, coinciding with the hundredth anniversary of the Chinese Union Version Bible, offers a highly readable and accessible study of the translation history and reception of China’s most widely read Bible edition. Peng’s study is particularly helpful in updating the story of the Union Version to the present day as it contends with new translations and online reading aids.
Chloë Starr, Associate Professor of Chinese Christianity and Theology, Yale University Divinity School

With the paucity of scholarship about the Bible in Earth’s most populous nation, Ann Peng’s book is of inestimable value: it fills a lacuna in an accessible yet robust way, revealing the curious journey of the Scriptures in China and brilliantly explaining its current form. She does not avoid controversies, but addresses headlong the often-bumpy road behind the transmission of God’s Word. Monumental for its scope, this work helps us to see the modern-day Chinese Bible aright.
Allen Yeh, Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies, Biola University

All in all, this book is an unprecedented effort to comb through the history of Bible translation in Chinese. Peng, through her diligent work, offers an overview of the chronological events and figures, together with translation versions in history. It provides detailed records for future theological, hermeneutical and translation studies in Christian literature. As a Chinese scholar, Peng also acknowledges the efforts of Chinese assistants in the translation of CUV with solid evidence. The unshakable authority of the CUV is a concerted effort between churches and will invite the following research. It is a valuable book for those who study the Bible in China, biblical translation, and religion and translation. Feng Qin & Ziqiang Zhao, In Religion, December 2023