SHANGHAI, China – The Introduction to the award-winning English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible published by Crossway states that it was “created to help people understand the Bible in a deeper way – that is, to encounter the timeless truth of God’s Word as a powerful, compelling, life-changing reality.”
This purpose can now be fulfilled amongst the Chinese believers and seekers with the official launch of the Chinese Study Bible (CSB) on 15 December 2017 in Shanghai.
This groundbreaking Bible resource published by the China Christian Council /Three-Self Patriotic Movement (CCC/TSPM) is a translation and adaption of the ESV Study Bible explanatory notes and charts to Bible verses in the Chinese Union Version. By the evening of the official launch, more than 6500 copies had been sold.
A historic achievement for the Chinese Church, the CSB is the fruit of her tireless endeavor to better equip pastors and lay preachers as well as meet the desire of her vast congregation to better understand the Word of God. Its successful birth is also a sterling testament to the collaborative partnership of the Chinese Church, Crossway and United Bible Societies.
It is no wonder then that the atmosphere at the launch ceremony hosted by CCC/TSPM was one of celebratory jubilation. James Featherby, the Board Chairman of British and Foreign Bible Societies (BFBS), which was a major supporter of the CSB project, expressed his ‘incredible joy’ at the publication of CSB. His heartfelt prayer is that ‘this wonderful Study Bible will point millions to Jesus and with their heads, their hearts and their feet, they will follow Jesus.’
Lane Dennis, the President and CEO of Crossway, echoed this euphoric sentiment saying, “It is a dream come true … a miracle of God’s gracious provision …. the fruit of a wonderful partnership that binds us as brothers and sisters in the Gospel and the publication of God’s Word.’
The context and process that led to the fruition of the CSB, which took five years to complete, is ultimately a story of God meeting the deepest needs of His flock. With His divine guidance and orchestration, a multi-party cross-cultural Bible project was made possible.
The Foreword to the CSB tells the story. Since the 1980s, the Chinese Church’s deep devotion to the Word of God has led to concerted efforts in Bible printing, making China in recent years a country with one of the widest distribution of Bibles globally.
Yet, many Chinese need to better understand the Bible due to historical, geographical and cultural differences between Biblical and modern contexts. At the same time, pastors and preachers have the challenging task of preaching and teaching God’s Word, and countering heresies with limited Bible reference materials.
Click to find out more about the Chinese Study Bible
- Features the Chinese Union Version
- Study materials based on ESV Study Bible explanatory notes, maps and charts published by Crossway in 2008
- The translation and adaptation of explanatory notes were done by a team of biblical and theological scholars
- Main features include 20,000 explanatory notes and other materials, with 3 million Chinese characters
- 80,000 cross references and glossary
- 200 full-coloured maps, more than 40 illustrations including renderings of important biblical structures, cities and objects
- 200 plus charts offering key insights and analysis
The need for more Bible resources grew and CCC/TSPM, under the Chairmanship of Elder Fu Xianwei, began looking into publishing Bibles with explanatory notes to help readers understand Scripture better.
It was on a visit to Crossway arranged by UBS in 2012 that Elder Fu became acquainted with the ESV Study Bible. He was immediately taken with its rich up-to-date content, impressive graphics and attractive layout. In view of China’s dire need for more Bible tools, he was determined to publish its Chinese version. So began the arduous process that would eventually take half a decade to present the CSB to the Church in China.
To ensure that CSB catered to the needs and cultural context of Chinese believers, it was decided to not only translate but also adapt the ESV Study Bible notes. To this end, a team of local reviewers, who included seminary lecturers and experienced pastors, was formed to rigorously review and adapt the content for a Chinese readership. Dr. Simon Wong, the Global Translation Adviser of UBS, provided his expertise to the translation and review team.
Also at the launch ceremony, UBS Global Council member (2013-2017), Bishop John Chew, pointed out that the disruptive changes in our modern world have left people feeling lost and bewildered. Hence, it is critical that Bible ministry continue to bring God’s enduring Word to generations to come.
Commenting on the significance of the completion of the CSB, UBS China Partnership Director, Kua Wee Seng, said “This is a historic milestone in the Bible ministry of China and a most significant accomplishment of the Church in China. The publication, distribution and use of the CSB will enable multitudes of Chinese Christians to be taught and nurtured in the Word of God, fulfilling the Lord’s command, “Feed my sheep”.’ (John 21: 17)
With the publication of the CSB, the Church in China now has a ready and powerful Bible tool to help pastors, lay preachers and Christians understand the Bible in a deeper way, contributing in the long run to the spiritual growth and vitality of the Chinese Christians. We echo the prayer of CCC/ TSPM that the “Holy Spirit will use the CSB, and that the Word of God will become ‘a lamp to my feet and a light to my path ‘ to the readers.”
Story: Angela Teo
Edited: Cynthia Oh
Photo: UBS CP
2018 © United Bible Societies China Partnership