Bible in Modern China: The Literary and Intellectual Impact

By Bays, Daniel H. | International Bulletin of Missionary Research, July 2001 | Go to article overview

Bible in Modern China: The Literary and Intellectual Impact


Bays, Daniel H., International Bulletin of Missionary Research


Bible in Modern China: The Literary and Intellectual Impact.

Edited by Irene Eber, Sze-kar Wan, and Knut Walf, in collaboration with Roman Malek. Sankt Augustin, Germany: Institut Monuments Serica, in cooperation with the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1999. Monuments Serica Monograph Series, no. 43. Pp. 450. DM 90.

This interesting volume emerged from a 1996 conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Both conference and volume were largely the result of the energy and perseverance of Professor Irene Eber of the Hebrew University. The fifteen essays in the volume are by scholars from Europe, Israel, China, and the United States.

The overall aim of the volume is, within the historical context of Chinese-- Christian contacts, to tell the story of "the introduction of Scripture, the biblical text, and the Chinese literary and intellectual appropriation of it" (p. 14). This is basically a nineteenth- and twentieth-century story, although Nicolas Standaert's essay deals with the seventeenth century. The overall pattern revealed-one that will be surprising to some China scholars-is that of a "tentative embrace of a foreign scripture into China's age-old family of classics," including the "creative appropriation" of the Chinese Bible into Chinese culture (pp. 25-26).

The volume's three sections deal with the translation (six essays), reception (two essays), and appropriation (seven essays) of the Bible. The translation section includes an essay by Jost Zetzsche on the standard "Union version" translation published in 1919; it is a concise summary of his excellent book on this subject (no. …

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