Chinese Characters in the Chinese New Testament (和合本)

Chinese Characters in the Chinese New Testament (和合本) July 17, 2013

If a foreigner plans to learn to read Chinese characters, why not learn those in the Bible first? There is a rumor out there that says the characters in the Bible are so different than those used in contemporary Chinese society.

This is an unfortunate half-truth.

Chinese Characters daocollageThe characters themselves are not unique to the Bible. In fact, I did a comparison between this list of characters and that of list of the 3000 most commonly used characters in Chinese society. The overlap was something around 93%. The difference comes in character groupings. Sometimes, contemporary Chinese change a word by switching the character order, for example 律法 and 法律.

Also, the words in the traditional Chinese Bible are often still used but in formal occasions. This is natural for “written Chinese” (书面语); it is also the language for formal settings. However, if you are teaching the Bible and especially if you are a foreigner, Chinese people will not be “so confused” by your word choice.

In fact, among Chinese Christians, these are the words they expect their teachers to use. Every subculture has its own sort of language—the church is no different. For example, normal people do not typically use words like sanctification, salvation, and covenants.

I’ve recently included on the resources page an excel file listing all the characters used in the Chinese New Testament (和合本). It can be made into a text file and adapted for various flash card programs. If you are going to learn characters, at least be learning them in a such a way that enables you to read the Bible!

As a word of encouragement, if you can read the character 的, you can read 5% of the Chinese Bible.

"Thank you....Looking forward to the follow up posts."

What is “Re-kin-ciliation”?

Browse Our Archives

Close Ad