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#50 - Chinese version of the KJV?
by Robert Nguyen Cramer (version 126.96.36.199)
This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.
Question/insight #50: "I would like to know where to find the KJV in Chinese."
The King James Version (KJV) is an English translation of Hebrew and Greek texts (the so-called "Textus Receptus") that the KJV translators had available to them in 1611. There are translations in other languages that also are translated from the same Hebrew and Greek texts from which the KJV was translated.
The Reina Valera Spanish Bible is an example of a more recent translation that still used the same Hebrew and Greek texts as the KJV translators used. The New King James Version is an example of this in modern English. In both cases, these translations did not utilize the more accurate Hebrew and Greek texts available to translators today. A partial listing of other Bible versions that used the Textus Receptus as a basis for their New Testament translations can be found at http://www.bibletexts.com/kjv-tr.htm#tr-based-bibles.
For more information on why using the "Textus Receptus" reduces the accuracy of translations, you can browse:
Most modern translations in all languages are based upon the definitive United Bible Societies' Hebrew and Greek texts that are now available to translators. For more information on these and other Hebrew and Greek texts, you can browse:
The Chinese Bible that has some similaries with the KJV is the Chinese Union Version (CUV). I read only a little Chinese -- with considerable difficulty and with Chinese-English dictionary in hand. From my own word-by-word examination of parts of the CUV, the CUV is translated from much more accurate Hebrew and Greek texts than the KJV, but according to a native Chinese Christian colleage living in Shanghai, the CUV is difficult for modern Chinese readers to read, because of the old style Chinese language that it uses. According to one writer who has corresponded with BibleTexts.com, the CUV's New Testament is based on essentially the same United Bible Society Greek text as the NRSV and TEV. According to that same writer, "There is still a truly 'classical Chinese' version available, which is called the "High Wenli" version. It is barely intelligible to modern readers unless they have studied classical Chinese poetry. The text of this Bible agrees with the KJV."
The Today's Chinese Version (TCV) is an excellent Chinese Bible that is translated from accurate Hebrew and Greek texts. It is also very easy to read, and it reliably represents to modern Chinese readers what the original biblical writers intended and in a similarly comfortable language level.
Both the CUV and the TCV are inexpensively available from the American Bible Society (ABS). To contact the ABS, you can call them at 1-800-322-4253 or browse their website at:
Though my Chinese fluency is very negligible, I have studied Chinese and survived on my spoken Chinese when I was in China. Based upon my informally polling some fellow Christians in China, the following is their order of preference for Bibles:
1. Today's Chinese Version [TCV] - The TCV is very easy and understandable to Chinese readers, and very faithful to the original texts. This is the one that I give to Chinese friends.
2. Today's English Version [TEV] - Native Chinese people who speak English have told me that they prefer the TEV over the Chinese Union Version. The TEV is also very faithful to the original texts.
3. Chinese Union Version [CUV] - The CUV is more difficult for modern Chinese readers, due to its older style Chinese language. (If the TCV is not available to them, and they do not read English, the CUV still gives them good access to an accurate Bible in Chinese, even if it is more difficult to read than the TEV.)
4. King James Version [KJV] - This is very, very difficult and strange for modern Chinese readers, especially for those who also read English. For more information on the importance of using current language for Christian talking, preaching, and reading the Bible, you can read some webpage articles on this subject at:
Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer