Christian Publications in China

Article excerpt

Christian books are currently being produced in China by three types of publishers: (1) the China Christian Council, (2) seminaries and provincial Christian councils, and (3) non-Christian publishers, such as university or secular presses and the Religion and Culture Press of the government State Administration of Religious Affairs. (1) A summary of this publishing effort, much of which is unknown in the West, may yield useful insights into the needs and interests of the church in China today.

China Christian Council

Between 1979 and 2001 the China Christian Council (CCC) published 104 books on subjects of interest to Christians, including devotionals (33 titles), Bible commentaries (24), histories of the church in China (16), Christian themes treated by the fine arts (14), and books on theology (10) and church ministry (7). In addition, the CCC has also published audio and video products. (2)

Of the 104 titles, 28 are Christian works by authors outside of China. Some of them are Chinese translations of Christian classics, and some are authored by overseas Chinese Christians. Among them are such time-honored Christian classics as Streams in the Desert by Lettie B. Cowman, Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, and The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. Two of them are works by Seventh-day Adventist Ellen G. White. The majority of these 28 titles are by evangelicals, especially overseas Chinese evangelicals. The best-selling authors on the CCC publication list include Zhou Lian-Hua, former senior pastor of Grace Church in Taiwan, Kou Shi-Yuan of Family of Christ, and Zheng Guo-Zhi of Campus Crusade. The Chinese translation of Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church and a few titles of John Stott's Bible Study Series have also been well received by Christians in China. Some CCC-published books are reprints of works by Chinese fundamentalist authors in the 1930s and 1940s, including Jia Yu-Ming's eight-volume Essentials of the Bible (Sheng Jing Yao Yi), a Bible exegesis series with a strong commitment to dispensationalism and a typological methodology.

The CCC is the only legal Bible publishing agency in China. Between 1981 and 2001 the CCC, through Amity Press in Nanjing, published over 28 million copies of the Bible. Efforts have been made to produce a variety of Bible editions and Bible study reference works, including the dispensational Scofield Reference Bible and, starting in 1991, the Chinese Study Bible (by Rock House Publishers), the most popular footnoted Bible among overseas Chinese Christians. In addition, the CCC has also published the Chinese Chain-Reference Study Bible (by the China Graduate School of Theology in Hong Kong), Today's Chinese Bible, the Chinese translation of the New Bible Commentary (by IV Press), and the Encyclopedia of the Bible (by Christian Communications Limited in Hong Kong). The Chinese Bible with leather cover and zipper is marketed as a gift edition, and English-Chinese Bibles are published for the educated, especially college students and young English-literate professionals. These various editions illustrate the commitment of the CCC to reach specific target groups.

CCC publications about the history of the church in China have dealt with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. These books, especially the more recent, feature testimonials about Christian contributions to the general society, as well as theological discussion of the relationship between Christianity and society.

Seminaries and Provincial Christian Councils

Up to 1998 Chinese seminaries and the Christian councils of several provinces have published a total of 133 titles. Nanjing Seminary, which during this period published 55 titles, is interested in works that are more academic, primarily textbooks for seminarians, church workers, and students in their correspondence program. Nanjing Theological Review, published semiannually, is the most scholarly theological academic journal published in China. …