LifeWay Christian Resources, one of the world's largest providers of Christian products and services, recently printed a modern translation of the New Testament in Chinese. It is reported to be the first time Scripture was directly translated from the original Greek version to Chinese.
Prior to the new LifeWay translation, called the Chinese Standard Bible, Chinese Christians depended on a translation known as the Chinese Union Version. This translation was done back in the 1920s and is based on an English copy of the Bible rather than the original Greek.
With this archaic translation, readers would express confusion over certain passages that were translated in a way where it would be read literally, such as when Jesus told his disciples to drink his blood and eat his flesh.
"Our goal is that Chinese Christians would read this translation and love it," said Phillip Burgess, executive director of LifeWay's Holman Bible Outreach International, to The Tennessean.
Burgess said the new Chinese translation is easier to understand and takes into account the modern Chinese language.
Holman Bible Publishers, which is a division under LifeWay's B&H Publishing Group, recently printed 20,000 copies of the modern Chinese translation that will be sold in the United States, Canada and Brazil.
It says for now it will only sell the Bible where it is legal.
The government in mainland China currently only allows Bibles printed by Amity Press in Nanjing, China to be sold at churches registered with the government arm, Chinese Christian Council (CCC).
But Asia Bible Society, which initiated the Greek to Chinese Bible translation project, said it has met with officials from the CCC for discussions. The CCC must approve of the modern translation of the Bible in order for it to be legally sold in China.
Scholars are currently translating the Old Testament from Greek to Chinese and hope to complete the project in 2011.
LifeWay is the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States with over 16 million members.