WASHINGTON — A new edition of the Old Testament in both English and traditional Chinese is a valuable tool for Chinese Catholics and represents a new possibility for evangelization, say leaders in the community.
Carolyn Ng, director of religious education for the Our Lady of China Pastoral Mission in the Archdiocese of Washington, told CNA that she is “overjoyed” about the new translation, and she is “very happy there is such a tool for evangelization as well as use among Catholics.”
She stated that the complete parallel translation will help baptized Catholics be able to participate more fully in the Chinese Catholic community, whether English or Chinese is their first language.
“If they share the Bible together with the elders, I think it will help everybody,” Ng said, explaining that she thought the Bible would promote an “intergenerational type of use.”
Ng also noted that the parallel translation “will be a wonderful, wonderful tool” for evangelizing Chinese atheists and agnostics, “who are eager to learn English and who are curious about Christianity, especially the Catholic faith.”
Bishop Randolph Calvo of Reno, Nev., who chairs the U.S. bishops' committee on Asian and Pacific island affairs, has called the new Bible a sign of “the continued growth and strengthening of the faith among Chinese Americans.”
The new parallel translation “helps the Church around the world to understand the history and struggles of the Catholic Church in China,” Bishop Calvo said in a statement.
“In the Year of Faith, our hope is to see a greater number of Chinese Catholics growing in their faith, teaching their children about Jesus and spreading the word of God,” he said.
With the advent of the side-by-side translation of the Old Testament, a full Bible in both English and Chinese is now available to Catholics who are Chinese-American. A parallel translation of the New Testament in traditional Chinese and English has been available since 2009, with a simplified Chinese edition released in 2011.
Simplified Chinese characters were introduced to the People's Republic of China in the mid-20th century, and they are the primary written form of Chinese in mainland China and Singapore, while traditional Chinese characters are primarily used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.
All editions of the parallel translation have used the New American Bible, Revised Edition, and the Chinese translations are those of Blessed Gabriele Allegra, a “determined” Italian priest who produced the first Chinese Bible translation in 1968 after a 40-year collaboration with scholars and translators.
An estimated 340,860 Chinese Catholics live in the United States and are a minority of the largest Asian-American ethnic group in the United States. Ng estimated that there are about 40 Chinese Catholic communities “celebrating the Mass in Chinese on a regular basis,” with many more Bible studies and prayer groups at parishes across the country.