1 million Bibles and New Testament for Catholics in China

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The SBV Bible cover
The SBV Bible cover

This is unprecedented in China: One million copies of Bible and NT to be printed and distributed free to Catholic believers in Mainland China. Never before has there been such a large volume of Bible and NT ever distributed free in China within a year.

The Catholic community is growing steadily in the Mainland. Official estimates reported 6 million Catholics, with unofficial estimates putting it at 12 million.  Most of these believers residing in the rural areas rely on subsistence agriculture as a source of income. Many of them are not able to afford a Bible or the NT.

The Catholic Patriotic Association, supported by the United Bible Societies (UBS) and the Taize Community, is spearheading the project of printing and distributing 800,000 New Testaments (including Psalms and Ecclesiasticus) and 200,000 Bibles in China. This unparalleled move is in response to the crying needs of the Chinese Catholics for the Word of God.

The SBV Bible horizontal text
The SBV Bible horizontal text

The Scripture version is the Studium Biblicum Version (SBV) which is the version approved by the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China for publication and distribution in Mainland China.   These SBV Bibles and NT are being published in the simplified script, horizontal format (see photographs), a format preferred by the Mainland Chinese. The SBV Bible was originally published in traditional script, vertical format. UBS helped and funded the conversion to the simplified script, horizontal format. From 1994 to 2008, the Chinese Catholic Church has printed and distributed a total of 962,000 copies of SBV Bible and NT.  The Bible paper for all these Scriptures has been funded by UBS.

The SBV New Testament (text)
The SBV New Testament (text)

The Taize Community has agreed to fund the printing and distribution costs of the one million Scripture project. UBS and Taize Community are co-funding the Bible paper cost for these one million copies. All the one million copies of the Bible and NT will be printed at the Amity Printing Company (APC), a printing company jointly established by Amity Foundation and UBS.

As of July 2009, APC has completed the printing of 400,000 copies of the New Testament.  These are now being distributed throughout China. The rest of the Scriptures will be printed and distributed in the next few months.

To ensure that all the one million copies are distributed without delay, funds for Bible paper are urgently required for the continued production of the one million copies. We appeal to all.

Written by Pamela Choo
for United Bible Societies, China Partnership