Bible Translation in China


The History of Bible Translation in China can be divided into four periods:

  • The Era of Sporadic Bible Translations: 635–1800
  • The Struggle for the Authoritative Chinese Bible: 1800–1920
  • The Rise of the Authoritative Chinese Bible: 1920–1980
  • The Marginalization of the non-Chinese Bibles: 1980–present

The Era of Sporadic Bible Translations (635–1800) is characterized by irregular missions from the Middle East and Europe to China, often in combination with trade activities. The missionaries were a subgroup of a larger set of people who had established contact with the Chinese for various reasons. The first missionaries who migrated to China were Nestorian Christians in A.D. 635. They moved to China via the ancient Silk Road together with other Middle East traders. The Muslim Huí people, whose population is distributed unevenly throughout Modern China, are descendants of these traders. The Nestorian missionaries translated several books of the Old and New Testament into Middle Chinese. No manuscript survived to the present day, but the Nestorian stela of Xī'ān referred to the translation of Bible portions. These portions were probably secondary translations based on the ancient Syriac Bible, the Peshitta. During the Mongol empire in the medieval period, Pope Nicholas IV appointed John of Montecorvino as his special envoy to the Mongol court. Venetian trader Marco Polo traveled to China at approximately the same time as John, although he was more motivated by commercial gains than religious interests. In 1307, John of Montecorvino translated the Psalms and the New Testament into Old Uyghur, the language used by the Mongol elite. No manuscript was preserved, but John mentioned his achievements in two letters to the Pope. The third language into which portions of the Bible were translated was the Formosan Siraya language. During the Dutch occupation of Taiwan in 1661, reformed preacher Daniel Gravius translated the Gospel of Matthew into Siraya. As a member of the Dutch Reformed Church clergy, he was employed by the Dutch East India Company, which was a chartered trading company. Dutch missionary activities had impacted the indigenous people until the early eighteenth century. None of three aforementioned Bible translations had any lasting effect nor were circulated widespread as there was no strategic plan to push these efforts. They were drops in the bucket (Isaiah 40:15), yet they were imperceptible beginnings that laid claim to Christianity’s ancient roots in China.

The nineteenth century saw the Struggle for the Authoritative Chinese Bible (1800-1920). This struggle depended on another conflict: the choice of the lingua franca (common language) that could unify the Chinese empire. The Manchu government used the speech of Běijīng as the language in which daily business was conducted. However, only a limited number of people in the populous south could speak this language fluently. Classical Chinese enjoyed prestige in the nineteenth century, but like Latin, nobody spoke it as a native language. Over 50 years, the Protestant missionaries had translated five versions of the Classical Chinese Bible. None of these endeavors, however, appealed to Chinese Christians, for which we might present two reasons. First, the Bibles were translated in a dead, albeit prestigious, language. Second, there was no consistent language policy behind Classical Chinese to promote it as a vehicular language for ordinary people. In the later nineteenth century, it became increasingly clear that the speech of Běijīng might assume the role as the lingua franca. Frustrated by the lack of an authoritative Bible, in 1890, the Protestant missionaries established three interdenominational translation committees: one for the high register of Classical Chinese, one for its low register, and one for Mandarin, the speech of Běijīng. Only the Mandarin committee survived the long translation process of 30 years; the classical committees were dissolved in the meantime. These decisions were influenced by political developments. At a national conference in 1913, the young Republic of China decided to adopt the speech of Běijīng as its national language. When the Mandarin committee completed their work and published the Chinese Union Bible in 1919, the timing could not have been better. Between the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Protestant missionaries also translated portions of the Bible into approximately 26 Chinese dialects. These Bibles were circulated locally, and they accommodated the needs of the nascent church communities until the authoritative Chinese Bible arrived. Moreover, Bible translations into three important minority languages were commenced or achieved in the nineteenth century: Manchu (1822), Tibetan (1862), and Modern Uyghur (1898). Fascinating stories are attached to each of these projects.

The Rise of the Authoritative Chinese Bible (1920-1980) correlates to the rise of Mandarin Chinese as the national language. During the Republican period (1911–1949), preparations for the promotion of Mandarin Chinese were made; however, real changes were only implemented during the Communist era after 1949. According to Chinese scholar Zhōu Mínglăn 周明朗, the Chinese language policy followed two models of nation-state building: the Soviet model (1950–1980) and the Chinese model (1980–present). In the 1950s, the Chinese government imposed a multilingual language order in which Mandarin Chinese became the lingua franca of Chinese dialect areas, which was supplemented by the local dialects where necessary. A minority language became the lingua franca of an ethnic autonomous area, and Mandarin Chinese was spoken as a complementary language. During this phase of nation-state building, Mandarin Chinese marginalized all other Chinese dialects. The last Chinese dialect in which a Bible portion was translated was the Teochew 潮汕 dialect (Southern Mǐn) in 1922. This marked the beginning of a gradual process in which all dialect translations fell into disuse while the Chinese Union Version rose to prominence. Exceptions are the Hokkien and Hakka dialects, which are spoken by a sizable diaspora abroad, and for which the Bible Society of Taiwan published revised Bible translations in 2008 and 2012.

The Marginalization of the non-Chinese Bibles (1980-today): The Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) destroyed the multilingual language order, but a reversion to the old order seemed impossible. The government amended Article 19 of the Constitution in 1982 and made Mandarin Chinese the lingua franca (Pŭtōnhuà) of all nationalities. This led to the Chinese model of nation-state building with a monolingual language order in place. The transition was accentuated by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the introduction of economic reforms. Labor and household registration rules were reformed; people were no longer required to work in the location where they were born. This led to a strong increase of internal migration from poor rural areas to richer coastal areas. In particular, young people left the countryside, whereas elderly people stayed behind. Some observers estimated that the number of migrants increased to 100 million in the 1990s and to 200 million in the 2000s. that the number of migrants increased to 100 million in the 1990s and to 200 million in the 2000s. The fusion of new populations boosted demand for Mandarin Chinese as the lingua franca at the expense of the Chinese dialects and minority languages. Furthermore, economic development created the need for a common language for communication, thus alienating minority people from their mother tongue, which is now perceived as a negative instead of a positive. As a result, minority languages began disintegrating at an alarming pace. This trend was exacerbated during 2010–2016 due to the emergence of mobile communication (the surface language of mobile devices is Mandarin Chinese) and the boom of construction projects (part of the land population was relocated into tower buildings in Hàn areas where the dominant language is Mandarin Chinese). Foreign missions came to China in the 1990s to translate the Bible in minority languages. Some of these projects have borne fruit in the past 10 years and added about five new languages to the set of languages with Scriptures. Yet, under prevailing obstructive conditions, the momentum for new translation projects is irrevocably lost; therefore, efforts to reach out to minority people will increasingly involve the Chinese Union Bible. There are a few exceptions though. The Flowery Miao (Ahmao), Flowerly Lisu, Nasupu and Nuosu languages show rigorous use of the Bible by Christians. The assimilation of these languages to Mandarin Chinese is expected to be slower than other languages. In Taiwan, Mandarin Chinese has risen to a dominant position in public life as well. The Formosan languages are endangered to various degrees. Bible portions were translated in 10 minority languages over the past 60 years; the translation projects proceeded without repression. However, Taiwan’s economic development has undermined the use of minority Bibles in a similar way.

Over the past 1,400 years, missionaries have translated Bible portions in 70 languages. The following table categorizes these languages along their genetic affiliation.


Translated Languages















Table 1: Language groups with Scriptures in China

More than 38 Christian organizations based in 14 countries and affiliated with 11 denominations participated in Bible translation projects. Organizations from the United States of America and Great Britain have contributed most to Bible translation in China. The following table classifies the contribution toward Bible translation in China according to the Christian organizations, their denominations, and their country of origin.



Country of Origin

Translated Languages


Syrian Orthodox Church

Syria, Iraq



Russian Orthodox Church




Roman Catholic Church




China Christian Council/Three-Self Patriotic Movement




American Episcopal Mission




Church Missionary Society




Church of England Zenana Missionary Society




Dutch Reformed Church/Mission




Swedish Missionary Society




American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions




English Presbyterian Mission




American Presbyterian Mission




Canadian Presbyterian Mission




Presbyterian Church of Taiwan




Baptist Serampore Mission

UK, India



Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society




American Southern Baptist Mission




American Baptist Missionary Union




American Methodist Episcopal Mission




American Southern Methodist Episcopal Mission




United Methodist Mission




United Methodist Free Church




English Wesleyan Mission




Bible Christian Mission




Dutch Pentecostal Missionary Society




Anonymous Individuals




Asian Christian Service




London Missionary Society




China Inland Mission (until 1964)




Overseas Missionary Fellowship (after 1964)




Basel Missionary Society (until 2001)




Institute for Bible Translation




Research Foundation Language and Religion




Vandsburger Mission/Marburger Mission




Moravian Church Mission








Summer Institute of Linguistics/Wycliffe Bible Translation




Bible Society of Taiwan




United Bible Societies



Table 2: Bible Translation by Christian Missions in China

Chinese dialects (28)

Orientalist Paul PelliotParts of the Bible were first translated by Nestorian Christians after A.D. 635 when the Syrian missionary Aloben came to Cháng’ān (today’s Xī’ān). A stela was found in Xī’ān in 1625 commemorating Christian activities in China during the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907). The stela was erected in A.D. 781, after the Nestorian missionaries had evangelized the local population for some time. In A.D. 720, China became an ecclesiastic province of the Church of the East, under the name of Beth Sinaye. The Church of the East in China disappeared after the fall of the Tang dynasty in A.D. 907. The text on the stela mentions “Scriptures were translated,” which unequivocally refers to the translation of some portion of the Bible. However, no Bible translation has been preserved.

In 1907, Nestorian documents were found in the Mògāo Caves 莫高窟 in Dúnhuāng敦煌 which mentioned Chinese translations of the Pentateuch (referred to as “牟世法王经”), including the Book of Genesis (“浑元经”), the Psalms (“多惠圣王经”), the Gospels (“阿思翟利容经”), Acts of Apostles (“传代经”), and a few others. The language in which these portions were translated was Middle Chinese.

The Nestorian Stela (English Translation)

Jesuit Shĕn FúzōngDuring the Míng dynasty 明朝 (1378-1644), long after the disappearance of the Nestorian faith in China, Catholic missionaries came to China. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), a Basque Catholic, who was the companion of Ignatius of Loyola and co-founder of the Society of Jesus, traveled as a pioneer to India, Japan, Borneo, and Maluku Islands to evangelize native populations. He died on the island of Shàngchuān 上川岛 in the South China Sea before reaching the Chinese Mainland.

The Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci 利玛窦 (1552–1610) led a group of Jesuits to China and introduced Western science, particularly mathematics and astronomy, to the imperial court. He initiated an inter-cultural dialogue with Chinese Confucian philosophers. Many Chinese intellectuals converted and became priests of the Society of Jesus. Matteo Ricci translated portions of the Bible into Chinese, mainly liturgical selections but not entire books. The only preserved translation is the Ten Commandments.

The Chinese Rites Controversy was a dispute in the seventeenth century among Catholic missionaries over the religious nature of Chinese customs and Confucian rites such as ancestor reverence or the principles of Tiān and . Tolerant Jesuits argued that these practices were secular in nature and compatible with the Christian faith, while other missionaries disagreed and contacted the Pope for guidance.

Kangxi Emperor
with a Jesuit astronomer
Between 1646 and 1720, the dispute embroiled Pope Clement XI (papacy 1700–1721), the Chinese Emperor Kāngxī 康熙帝 (1654–1722), scholars of European universities, and the Holy See’s Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.

Pope Clement XI issued the decree Cum Deus Optimus in 1704, in which he condemned the Confucian and Chinese folk rites. Specifically, the Pope

  • forbade the use of Tiān “Heaven” and Shàngdì 上帝 “Lord Above,” but allowed the term Tiānzhǔ 天主 “Lord of Heaven” as names for God;

  • proscribed Christians from participating in Confucian rites; and

  • prohibited Christians from participating in rites of the Chinese folk religion such as ancestor worship or rites during which the soul of a deceased person is directed to the afterworld.

In 1715, Pope Clement XI further condemned the practice of Chinese religious rites in his papal bull Ex illa die. Chinese Emperor Kāngxī was vexed by the papal decree, changed his benevolent attitude toward Christianity, and banned Christian missionary activities in his imperial decree of 1721. The Chinese Rites Controversy undermined the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Chinese government. Relationships have not been restored, even today.

The Běitáng Church 西什库北教堂During the Chinese Rites Controversy, French missionary Jean Basset 巴设 (1662-1707) of the Paris Foreign Mission Society noted the lack of Bible translations into Chinese. Based in Sìchuān Province, he finally undertook the task together with Chinese scholar John Xu 许若翰. Before Father Basset died in 1707, he translated 80% of the Vulgate Version of the New Testament, but his work was never printed. Englishman Hodgman brought a copy of this translation to England in 1737, where it was deposited in the library of Sir Hans Sloane and later in the British Museum. Protestant missionary Robert Morrison made a copy of this text, which he used for his translation of the Bible in 1823.

After several private projects of Scripture translation by Catholics in the eighteenth century, Jesuit Louis de Poirot 贺请泰 (1735–1814) translated the New Testament and most of the Old Testament into Chinese. The manuscript was preserved for a long time in the Běitáng Church 北堂 Library in Běijīng, and is now held in Shànghǎi. The translation was based on the Vulgate. Basset and de Poirot’s translations are difficult to understand for modern Chinese speakers as the following excerpt of the Gospel of Luke illustrates.

Gospel of Luke 1: 13-19

Basset’s Translation (1707) De Poirot’s Translation (1814) Chinese Union Translation (1919) NIV English Translation (1979)
13 […] 尔妻依撒伯,将与尔生子,尔必名之若翰 […] 13 […] 尔妻依撒伯尔要与你一子,尔宜取名若翰 […] 13 […] 你的妻子伊利沙伯要给你生一个儿子,你要给他起名叫约翰 […] 13 […] Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John […]
14 […] 且众以其生为乐矣。 14 […] 尔得此子,尔心乐多,人亦大喜。 14 […] 有许多人因他出世,也必喜乐。 14 […] and many will rejoice because of his birth,
15 盖其为大主前,酒与麯皆不饮,犹在母腹,而满得圣风矣。 15 此子在主前本是大,他不宜饮酒及凡从菓压出的汁,自母腹即满被圣神。 15 他在主面前将要为大,淡酒浓酒都不喝,从母腹里就被圣灵充满了。 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.
16 且多化依腊尔子归于厥主神。 16 使多依斯拉耶耳嗣妇本主。 16 他要使许多以色列人回转,归于主他们的 神。 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.
18 […] 我妻亦暮年矣。 18 […] 妻年亦迈。 18 […] 我的妻子也年纪老迈了。 18 […] and my wife is well along in years.
19 […] 我乃加别尔在神前者,使出语尔,报此福音。 19 […] 我是上主前的加彼厄尔,我奉命语尔,报尔此佳音。 19 […] 我是站在 神面前的加百列,奉差而来对你说话,将这好信息报给你。 19 […] I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries are the era of Protestant Scripture translation. The milestone in this process is the publication Wényán New Testament, 1814of the Chinese Union Version in 1919, which is the authoritative and most prevalent Bible version of the twentieth century in China. This Bible is the endpoint of 100 years of rivalries, disappointments, and struggles and finally achieves a consensus between missionaries of different countries.

The struggle for an authoritative Chinese Bible was shaped by the struggle for a lingua franca that could unify the whole country, which was intense at the turn of the twentieth century. Since the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907), there were two literary standards, Wényán 文言, the classical literary language, and Báihuà 白話, the vernacular standard of ordinary people.

Wényán 文言 enjoyed great prestige among the population in the early twentieth century and was accorded the status of the language of the learned. The vast majority of Chinese literature, history, philosophy, and other sciences were written in Wényán 文言, the only truly national form of Chinese. Like Latin, Wényán 文言 and Báihuà 白話 are written languages that cannot be spoken. They are different from any current Chinese dialect and thus cannot assume the role of a lingua franca.

In 1913, a language commission was established in Beijing with representatives from all over China. A controversy erupted over which dialect should be selected as China’s lingua franca. Finally, the northern representatives forced their point, resulting in the Beijing dialect being chosen as the Standard Language.

Joseph Schereschewsky
施约瑟 (1831-1906)
Translators of the
Chinese Union Version in 1906
In the nineteenth century, five different complete translations of the Bible into Wényán 文言 were completed, with the first two under intense governmental persecution:

  • 1822: by Joshua Marshman 马士曼 and Johannes Lassar 拉撒尔 (Baptist Missionaries);

  • 1823: by Robert Morrison 马礼逊 and William Milne 米憐 (London Missionary Society);

  • 1847: by W. H. Medhurst 麦都思, K. Gützlaff 郭士立, and E. Bridgman 裨治文, whose translation was adopted by Hóng Xiùquán 洪秀全, the leader of the Tàipíngtiānguó 太平天囯 movement;

  • 1854: the Delegates’ Version by W. H. Medhurst 麦都思, W. J. Boone 文惠廉, W. M. Lowrie, J. Stronach, and E. C. Bridgman 裨治文; and

  • 1863: by E. C. Brigdman 裨治文 and M. S. Culbertson 克陛存 after they separated from the Delegates’ Committee.

In the 1880s, the Protestant churches were disappointed in the lack of an authoritative translation and convened a General Mission Conference in 1890 to prepare a new translation in Wényán 文言, Báihuà 白話, and Vernacular Mandarin Chinese, the speech of Beijing. Three translation committees were formed.

As it became increasingly clear that Mandarin would become the lingua franca, the classical language committees were dissolved by 1907, and the Mandarin translation was published in 1919 under the name Chinese Union Version. It remains the authoritative Chinese Bible version but was revised once in 2010 by the Hong Kong Bible Society.

Besides the Classical languages and Mandarin Chinese, missionaries also translated the Bible into other Chinese dialects. The European and Chinese definitions of “language” 语言 and “dialect” 方言 differ throughout history. In the European understanding, two speeches are dialects if they are intelligible; they are languages if not. The Chinese use ethnic and political traits to correlate two speeches. Two speeches are dialects if the people who use them share the same ethnic group or nationality; they are two languages if they belong to different groups.

Speakers of the Chinese dialects are the ethnic Hàn 汉, but the linguistic variation between these dialects is comparable to or even more significant than that of the Germanic or Romance languages. There are nine Chinese dialect groups, and each has a complex subsystem.

Dialect Group


Mandarin 官

960 Million

Jìn 晋

48 Million

Gàn 赣

31 Million

Mǐn 闽

70 Million

Yuè 粤

60 Million


3.8 Million

Hakka 客家

30 Million

Xiāng 湘

38 Million

Wú 吴

80 Million

Huī 徽

4.6 Million

Table 3: The Chinese Dialects

Translations of the Bible in Chinese dialects emerged shortly after the completion of the first Bibles in Wényán 文言. Bibles in Mandarin were published in 1874, in four different Mǐn 闽 dialects in 1884–1922, in Cantonese in 1894, in four different Wú 吴 dialects in 1901–1914, and in Hakka in 1916. Portions of the Bible were translated in 25 different Chinese dialects. Details are displayed in the following chart.



Chinese Dialect Group

Book NT Bible


Middle Chinese


650 (?)




High Wénlǐ 深文理

Literary 文言文

1810 1814 1822


Easy Wénlǐ 易文理

Literary 文言文

1883 1885 1902


Standard 普通话

Guān 官, Běijīng 北京

1864 1872 1874


Nánjīng 南京

Guān 官, Jiānghuái 江淮

1854 1857



Yāntái 烟台

Guān 官, Jiāoliáo 胶辽





Jǐnán 济南

Guān 官, Jìlǔ 冀鲁





Wǔhàn 武汉

Guān 官, Xīnán 西南





Méizhōu 梅州

Hakka 客家

1860 1883 1916


Hépó 河婆

Hakka 客家





Lóngyán 龙岩

Hakka 客家





Fúzhōu 福州

Mǐn 闽, Eastern 东

1852 1856 1891


Shàowǔ 邵武

Mǐn 闽, Northern 北





Jiàn'ōu 建瓯

Mǐn 闽, Northern 北





Jiànyáng 建阳

Mǐn 闽, Northern 北





Púxiān 莆仙

Mǐn 闽, Púxiān 莆仙

1892 1902 1912


Teochew 潮汕

Mǐn 闽, Southern 南

1875 1896 1922


Hainanese 海南

Mǐn 闽, Southern 南





Hokkien 福建

Mǐn 闽, Southern 南

1852 1873 1884


Wēnzhōu 温州

Wú 吴, Ōujiāng 瓯江

1892 1902



Shànghǎi 上海

Wú 吴, Tàihú 太湖

1847 1870 1908


Níngbō 宁波

Wú 吴, Tàihú 太湖

1852 1868 1901


Hángzhōu 杭州

Wú 吴, Tàihú 太湖





Sūzhōu 苏州

Wú 吴, Tàihú 太湖

1879 1881 1908


Tāizhōu 台州

Wú 吴, Tāizhōu 台州

1880 1881 1914


Jīnhuá 金华

Wú 吴, Wùzhōu 务州





Liánzhōu 连州

Yuè 粤, Luōguǎng 罗广





Cantonese 广东话

Yuè 粤, Yuè-Hǎi 粤海

1862 1877 1894

Table 4: Bible Translation in Chinese Dialects

Cover of Hakka Bible,
reprint of 1923
The only Bible translations that are still used today are the Mandarin, Hokkien, and Hakka translations. Since 1949, Mandarin Chinese has gradually risen to such prominence that virtually all Hàn Chinese acquired native competence of the lingua franca.

Churches have adapted to this situation by shifting usage to the Mandarin Chinese Bible (the Chinese Union Version) in the twentieth century. The Scriptures are either entirely read in Mandarin Chinese or instantly translated into the respective dialect from the Mandarin Bible.

Since the nineteenth century, sizable Hokkien and Hakka populations migrated to other countries in Southeast Asia and North America. Hokkien (Taiwanese) is also spoken by 70% of the population in Taiwan. These Hokkien and Hakka diaspora communities continued using the Bibles of 1884 and 1916. Under the authority of the Bible Society of Taiwan, the Bibles were revised or retranslated to adapt to language use in the twenty-first century: in 2008, for Hokkien and in 2012, for Hakka.

Chinese Jews and Muslims (1)

The earliest specific evidence of the presence of Jews in China comes from the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618–907). An eighth century manuscript in Hebrew script was found in the Mògāo Caves 莫高窟 in Dúnhuāng 敦煌, a station on the ancient Silk Road.

Ancient Silk Roads by Land and by SeaAccording to Arabic sources, Jews were among the many foreigners killed in the agitation of Khânfû (Canton 广州) in 878. The Jewish community at Kāifēng 开封 in Henan Province was founded during the Song dynasty (960–1279); their synagogue (qīngzhēnsì 清真寺) was built in 1163.

Chinese people referred to the Jewish religion as tiăojīnjiào 挑筋教, literally “the religion which removes the sinew,” which likely refers to the Jewish prohibition of eating the tendon attached to the socket of the hip (see Genesis 32:32).

Stela of 1512The Jew Moshe ben Abram (1619–1657), whose Chinese name was Zhào Yìngchéng 赵映乘, became a special envoy of the emperor at the end of the Míng dynasty 明朝 (1368–1644). He helped rebuild the Kāifēng synagogue that was destroyed in a flood in 1642. The Jewish community practiced the Rabbinic prayers and festivals. They copied 13 Torah scrolls in Hebrew. There is no information available on Jewish efforts to translate portions of the Torah into Chinese.

Four stelae in Chinese that are dated 1489, 1512, 1663, and 1679 were inscribed with information about the religion, festivals, and the history of the community. At its height, the Jewish community in Kāifēng had more than 5,000 members.

Kāifēng JewsA number of setbacks occurred after the sixteenth century, which contributed to the decline of the Kāifēng Jewish community and of other Jewish communities in China, such as floods, calamities, and the turmoil caused by the Heavenly Kingdom 太平天国 rebellion in the nineteenth century. In 1850, the Kāifēng synagogue was reported to be in poor shape. By 1866, the synagogue had been dismantled, and no synagogue was rebuilt afterwards. Donald Leslie, the author of Jews and Judaism in traditional China, reasoned that the decline is mainly due to the lengthy isolation from other Jewish communities in the world. In the twentieth century, the Chinese government classified the Kāifēng Jews within the Hàn nationality. The Kāifēng Jews are reported to use seven Chinese surnames, among which are Lĭ 李 and Gāo 高. These surnames supposedly represent the names of Levi and Cohen.

The Chinese Government defines the Huí nationality, without regard to religion, as the descendants of Arab and Central Asian people who had settled in China during the Tang (AD 618–907) and Song (AD 960–1279) dynasties.

Huí family in Níngxià ProvinceThe Huí ancestors mainly originated from places along the ancient Silk Road. The overwhelming majority of the 10.5 million Huí people are Muslims. Huí communities exist across the country, but are concentrated in Northwestern China (Níngxià, Gānsù, Qīnghăi, and Xīnjiāng provinces).

The Government also includes the 5,000 Utsuls 回輝 people on the Hǎinán Island within the Huí nationality. Their ancestors are Austronesian Muslims who arrived from Vietnam during the Ming dynasty (AD 1368–1644). The Huí people have no indigenous language but speak Mandarin Chinese. As they are Muslims, part of their religious vocabulary differs from that of the Hàn Chinese.

Huí Bible (2010)Information on the number of Huí Christians is unknown. In 2010, an anonymous mission organization published a Huí Bible in Hong Kong. The language of this Bible is similar to that of the Chinese Union Version (Hong Kong Bible Society) or Chinese New Version (World Wide Bible Society), except for keywords such as God, Jesus, or Christ. Some differences are listed below.

The differences relate to how the Huí people traditionally transliterate religious terms from Arabic into Chinese. For example, the term Màixīhā 麦西哈 is a transliteration of “Messiah” in Arabic or Hebrew, while the term Jīdū 基督 is a transliteration of “Christ” in Greek. The different choice for the name of God, “True Lord” (Huí) versus the polytheistic concept of Shén 神 (Hàn), is reminiscent of the nineteenth century when Protestant missionaries disagreed on using Shén 神 versus Shàngdì 上帝.

Huí Bible (2010)

Chinese Union Version (1919)




God (Yahweh)

Mt. 3:9


Mt. 4:7


god (not Yahweh)

Jn. 10:35

尔撒 耶稣


Mt. 1:1

麦西哈 基督


Mt. 1:17

麦西哈的弟子 基督徒


Ac. 11:26

易卜劣厮 魔鬼


Mt. 4:1

天仙 天使


Mt. 13:39

佳音 福音

Good News

Mt. 4:23

礼拜堂 会堂


Mt. 4:23

哲玛提 教会


Mt. 16:18

坟坑 阴间


Mt. 11:23

Table 5: Terms in Huí Bible

Altaic Minorities (5)

The Altaic languages are a sprachbund or family of about 67 languages of which the geographical origin is the Altai Mountains in Central East Asia, spanning over Russia, China, and Mongolia. The Altaic languages consist of three subgroups: the Turkic (42), the Mongolic (13), and the Tungusic (12) languages. Two Altaic peoples ruled over China: the Mongols during the Yuán dynasty 元朝 (1271–1368) and the Manchus during the Qīng dynasty 清朝 (1644–1911).

The subsequent table illustrates the portions of the Bible that were translated into five Altaic languages of China: one Mongolic, two Tungusic, and two Turkic languages.









Chahar-Mongolian 内蒙古语

Altaic, Mongolic, Central






Manchu 满语

Altaic, Tungusic, South


1822 1835



Evenki 鄂温克语

Altaic, Tungusic, North






Old Uyghur 回鹘语

Altaic, Turkic, Southeast






Modern Uyghur 维吾尔语

Altaic, Turkic, Southeast


1898 1914 1950

Table 6: Bible Translation in Altaic Languages of China

Among the Altaic groups, the Mongols 蒙古 assume a prominent historical role. Genghis Khan (1162–1227) founded the Mongol Empire in Avarga in 1206 and started the Mongol Invasions, which, at their peak in 1279, resulted in the conquest of most regions of Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. Yet, the Mongols endured a decisive defeat against the Muslim Mamluks in the Battle of Ain Jalut of 1260.

Shortly before this battle, European crusaders led by French King Louis IX (1214–1270) were likewise defeated by the Muslim Mamluks in the Battle of Al Mansurah of 1250. Sharing a common enemy but different strategic goals, the Mongols and the Europeans considered forming an alliance against the Muslim forces.

Kublai Khan EmperorPope Innocent IV (1195-1254) initiated an overture toward the Mongols. In his letter Dei Patris Immensa written in 1245, he explained the Christian faith to Güyük Khan (1206-1248) and invited him to receive baptism. In his reply in 1246, Güyük Khan demanded submission of the Europeans.

Contact continued even when the Mongolian empire separated into four khanates in the 1260s. In particular, Kublai Khan (1215-1294) of the Yuán Khanate and Arghun Khan (1258-1291) of the Western Asian Ilkhanate corresponded with the Pope. They requested Catholic missionaries to visit the courts of the Mongol Khans. The communication most sympathetic to Christianity was a letter from Arghun Khan in which he discussed baptism. However, these written exchanges ceased after the death of Pope Nicholas IV (1227-1292) and of the two Khans. 

Letter of Arghun Khan to Pope Nicholas IV (1290)Pope Nicholas IV sent John of Montecorvino (1247–1328) as his special envoy to Arghun Khan and Kublai Khan. As a member of the Franciscan order, John was the forerunner of missionaries of the Middle Ages. He settled in Bĕijīng in 1294 shortly after the death of Kublai Khan. He built a church, established three mission stations, and learned Old Uyghur, the language spoken by the Mongol ruling elite. In 1307, he translated the New Testament and the Psalms into Old Uyghur. Although his Bible manuscripts did not endure, John’s accomplishments were reported in his two letters to the Pope. He died in Bĕijīng in 1328, and his mission in China continued for 40 years before the new Míng 明 rulers expelled foreign missionaries from China in the 1360s.

The Mongol armies moved back and forth along the Silk Road, a ten-thousand kilometer route on which traders, soldiers, nomads, pilgrims, and monks exchanged goods, diseases, technologies, philosophies and religions. The Silk Road was a crossroad of cultures. The ancient travelers included Chinese, Indians, Persians, Syrians, Greeks, Romans, and Sogdians. 

Eastern End of Silk RoadTwo major stops on the Silk Road were Samarkand in Uzbekistan and Turfan 吐鲁番 in the Chinese Xīnjiāng 新疆 Province. Samarkand was the multi-religious center of the Sogdian people. Sogdian was the lingua franca used on the Silk Road during the Táng dynasty 唐朝 (618–907) from which other languages had borrowed vocabulary. The Chinese noun diàn 店 “hotel”, for example, is borrowed from the Sogdian noun tym “hotel.” The descendants of the Sogdians were supplanted by Uzbek and Tajik tribes in the sixteenth century. Before the ninth century, Turfan was under Tibetan control. With the defeat of the Uyghur armies by Kirghiz forces in 840, there was a massive influx of Uyghur people into Central Asia. Uyghur people took control of Turfan and relocated there. They established a kingdom with the capital in Qocho or Gāochāng 高昌, 30 kilometers away from Turfan. This kingdom existed between 856 and 1389, but it became a vassal state of Mongol rulers after 1250, before being integrated into the Moghul khanate, a Mongolian Islamic kingdom. Originally, the Uyghur people believed in Manichaeism but later converted to Buddhism. In the fifteenth century, the Mongol rulers began their forced conversion of the Uyghurs to Islam, which was completed in 1500.

Sher-Dor Madrasah in Samarkand Jiāohé 交河 Ruins in Turfan

The Sogdian people adopted the Old Syriac alphabet, which was derived from the Aramaic alphabet. The Sogdian script was used for secular and religious texts. During the ninth century, the Uyghur created a script, which was adopted from the Sogdian alphabet. Influenced by the prestigious Chinese script, the Uyghur changed the direction of the script from horizontal (right-to-left like the Sogdians) to vertical (top-to-bottom like the Chinese). The Uyghur script was used by the Uyghur and Yugur people in Gānsù 甘肃 Province of China until the nineteenth century, when they changed to the Arabic-Persian script and Cyrillic script. Their original writing system fell out of use.

In the thirteenth century, the illiterate Mongol rulers decided to create their own script based on the Old Uyghur script. The Mongolian script in turn formed the basis of writing systems in the Tungusic languages of Manchu, Xibe, and Evenki. Today, the Mongolian script is still in use in China and Mongolia. The following three charts illustrate the alphabetic make-up of a written word and show the consonantal and vocalic graphemes of the Mongolian script.

'Mongol' Mongolian Consonants Mongolian Vowels

The first complete Bible was published using the traditional script in Khalka Mongolian, the official language of Mongolia, in 2004, centuries after the Mongolian conquests. However, for Chahar-Mongolian, spoken in the V. R. of China, an independent translation was necessary.

Mongolian Yurt in the Grass Land Chahar Mongolian New Testament, 2004

There are three translations of the New Testament in Chahar-Mongolian that were produced in the twenty-first century. The first version, called Ariun Nom, was completed in 2004 by a team coordinated by Stefan Müller of Zentralasien-Gesellschaft. It is the version with the widest circulation in the churches of Inner Mongolia. The second is a dynamic equivalence translation completed by members of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and was published in 2007 with the title Shine Geree. The third translation was completed by Bao Xiaolin, a pastor of the Three-Self Church, in cooperation with the United Bible Societies; the manuscript was published by Amity Press in 2013.

The Manchu 满族 people are descended from the Jurchen 女真 people, a Tungus group who inhabited the area of present-day Liáoníng 辽宁 Province. During the second half of the Sòng dynasty 宋朝 (960–1290), the Jurchen people rebelled against the ruling Sòng and established the Jīn dynasty 金朝 (1115-1234) in Northern China.

Shùnzhì Emperor 順治皇帝The Jurchen or Jīn people were later subjugated by the Mongols. In the late Míng dynasty 明朝 (1368–1644), Jurchen chieftain Nurhaci 努尔哈赤 (1559–1626) unified the Jurchen tribes through three measures: he commissioned a script based on the Mongolian script, established a military and societal system called the Eight Banners, and started a military campaign against the ruling Míng. Nurhaci’s son, Hóng Tàijí 洪太極 (1592–1643), adopted the name Qīng 清 and declared himself the emperor of Qīng. Control over all of China was won by Nurhaci’s grandson Shùnzhì 順治 in 1644 through continuous military campaigns.

Manchu was destined to become the official language of the Chinese empire in 1644, but it lacked the administrative, scientific, and even practical vocabulary found in Chinese; Chinese inevitably influenced the Manchu language. Despite efforts made by the Emperor Kāngxī 康熙皇帝 (1654–1722) and Emperor Qiánlóng 乾隆皇帝 (1711–1796) to maintain the Manchu language, it steadily declined.

In 1859, the Imperial Government allowed Hàn Chinese immigration into Manchuria, which contributed to the final decline of the Manchu language. By the end of the Qīng government in 1912, the Manchu language disappeared completely from public life. However, the discovery of several Manchu-speaking villages in Liáoníng Province in the 1960s revived interest, and the Chinese Government began a revitalization program; however, there are probably only approximately 20 active speakers of Manchu today. The Manchu script, consonant and vowels, is introduced in the following three charts.

'Manchu' Manchu Consonants Manchu Vowels

Stepan Vaciliyevich Lipoftsoff (1773–1841), an official of the Russian Foreign Office who studied Manchu for 20 years in China, translated the Gospel of Matthew (1822) and the New Testament (1835) into Manchu before 1859, when Manchu began its final decline.

Lipoftsoff’s New Testament TranslationGeorge Borrow was appointed by the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) to help finalize the manuscript. In Beijing, George Borrow obtained an unpublished manuscript of the Manchu Old Testament that the Jesuit missionary Louis Antoine de Poirot had completed in 1790. This manuscript enabled Borrow to learn the Manchu language in six months and to proofread Lipoftsoff’s New Testament. The BFBS published the New Testament manuscript in St. Petersburg in 1835 using Manchu characters, and it has been reprinted often since then.

The Evenki language, a Tungus language, is spoken by 20,000 people in China and 6,000 people in Russia. Nadezhda Bulatova and David Kheĭzell of the Institute for Bible Translation (IBT) in Moscow translated the Gospel of Luke into the Tura dialect of Evenki in 2002. The manuscript was published by IBT in Moscow in 2002 and republished as Evenki/Russian diglot with audio recording in 2013, making it usable for the Evenki in Inner Mongolia and Hēilóngjiāng, China.

More than 10 million, predominantly Muslim, Uyghur 维吾尔 people live in Xīnjiāng 新疆 Province of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan today. About 50 manuscripts written in Old Uyghur were found in Turfan, a stop on the Silk Road, and some of these manuscripts are Christian texts, which have been digitalized at the Brandenburg Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities in Germany. As mentioned previously, Catholic missionary John of Montecorvino (1247–1328) translated the New Testament and the Psalms into Old Uyghur before 1307, as Old Uyghur was the lingua franca used by the Mongol rulers in Bĕijīng. Although no Bible manuscript survived, information on the existence of the translated New Testament is contained in a letter by John to the Pope.

Johannes AvetaranianModern Uyghur is not the direct descendant of Old Uyghur. Old Uyghur developed into the Western Yugur 西裕固 language, which is spoken today by about 5,000 speakers in the Sùnán 肃南 County of Gānsù 甘肃 Province. Instead, Modern Uyghur is the name of the literary Chagatai language as it is spoken in Kāshghar 喀什 in Xīnjiāng 新疆 Province. Modern Uyghur was standardized in the 1930s, and it is in this language that the New Testament was translated.

The first missionary to the Uyghur people in the modern era was Johannes Avetaranian, who was recruited by the Mission Union of Sweden. On his first explorative trip with Swedish missionaries to Kāshghar in 1892, Avetaranian stayed behind. He quickly learned Modern Uyghur, which is related to his native language, Turkish. By 1897, he had translated the four Gospels. The Swedish missionaries Lars Erik Högberg and Gösta Raquette, who settled in Kāshghar after 1893, were critical of Avetaranian’s translation, and the differences of opinion resulted in strained relations. Without resolving the dispute, the BFBS published the four Gospels in 1898 using Arabic script.

Gustaf AhlbertAvetaranian left Kāshghar in 1897 and did not return. The dispute smoldered on for 20 years. When he was stationed in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Avetaranian completed the first draft of the Modern Uyghur New Testament. The BFBS initiated two mediation conferences—one in Berlin (1909) and one in London (1911)—and a compromise was reached. Avetaranian and Swedish missionary Gösta Raquette collaborated on the revision in Plovdiv. By 1914, 2,000 copies of the New Testament were printed in Plovdiv, but the distribution was delayed due to the outbreak of the First World War.

The Swedish mission thrived in Kāshghar between 1901 and 1939 with 60 field missionaries. Different Swedish missionaries translated the books of Genesis (1917), Job (1921), and Psalms (1923). Gustaf Ahlbert, who settled in Kāshghar in 1912, coordinated the translation work after the closure of the Swedish mission in 1939. Together with Uyghur convert Nur Luke and Oskar Hermansson, he was exiled to Bombay in India, where he died in 1943. With the assistance of Moulvi Munshi and Moulvi Fazil, Oskar Hermansson completed the first Uyghur Bible in 1950. The BFBS published this translation in Cairo in 1950.

Uyghur Bible in Arabic script, 2005 Uyghur Bible in Cyrillic script, 2005The “Dunyaning Nuri” (“Light of the World”) website includes the original Cairo Bible of 1950 and a revision of the Cairo Bible completed in 2013.

The Uyghur Bible Society was created in the early 2000s and is based in Turkey. It uploaded a retranslation of almost the entire Bible online in 2005.

Furthermore, two printed versions were published in Turkey in 2005: one in Arabic script for use in China and the other in Cyrillic script for use in Kazakhstan and other countries.

Miao-Yao Minorities (4)

The Miao-Yao languages 苗瑶语系 constitute a small family of about 80 languages.

Miao 苗 is the name used by the Chinese during the Qin dynasty (221–206 B.C.) for non-Chinese groups living in the Yangtze valley south of the Hàn areas. Its etymology is uncertain. During the A.D. first millennium, Miao-Yao groups were forced by the expansive Hàn population to migrate southward to what is known today as the Hunan, Guìzhōu, Sìchuān, and Yúnnán provinces.

After the eighteenth century, some Miao groups emigrated from China to other Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar. In the aftermath of the Second Indochina War (1960–1975), about 100,000 ethnic Miao fled to the United States, France, and Australia because they were allied with the anti-communist forces, which lost the war.

Portions of the Bible were translated into four Miao languages spoken in Guìzhōu and Sìchuān provinces.









Ahmao 花苗语

Miao-Yao, Miao, Western


1907 1917 2009


Chuāndiān Hmong 川滇苗语

Miao-Yao, Miao, Western


1922 2017



Gejia 革家语

Miao-Yao, Miao, Central






Hmu 黑苗语

Miao-Yao, Miao, Central


1928 1934


Table 7: Bible Translation in Miao Languages of China

The service of English Methodist missionary Samuel Pollard 柏格理 (1864–1915) to the Ahmao people was successful and had long-lasting results. The Ahmao people listened to Pollard’s message and converted in large numbers to escape the despair that gripped their ethnic psyche. For a long period, they had endured the rude treatment by Yí and Hàn landlords. Samuel Pollard created an alphabet, loosely based on the Latin alphabet, with special characters devised by him (called “Pollard Script”). Soon after he had completed the New Testament in Ahmao, Pollard died from typhoid in 1915. Hudspeth, his missionary successor, revised the manuscript and took it to Japan in 1917 to print 5,000 copies. Hudspeth retranslated the New Testament in the 1930s and published it in Shanghai in 1936. In 1936, Hudspeth wrote that there were 40 organized Ahmao churches with a total of 18,300 members. After 1949, these churches were reorganized as Three-Self Churches. The entire Bible was completed in 2009 by a Three-Self-Church Committee and printed by Amity Press in Nánjīng, China.

Ahmao New Testament Pollard with Ahmao teachers Christian Ahmao women in 1906

English Methodist Missionary Harry Parsons 张道惠 (1878–1952) translated the Gospel of Mark into Sìchuān Hmong in 1922, using the Pollard Script. He was based in Dōngchuān 东川, a district in Yúnnán Province close to Sìchuān Province, for most of the time. Parsons was a colleague of Pollard assisting him at different times with the Ahmao work in Guìzhōu.

Wáng Zhìmíng 王志明 at the Westminster Abbey in LondonThe Sìchuān Hmong are closely related to the Hmong in Wǔdìng 武定 county, Yúnnán, who converted in great numbers during the ministry of Parsons and of China Inland Missionary Gladstone Porteous. Wáng Zhìmíng 王志明 (1907–1973), a native Hmong of Wǔdìng, was ordained as a pastor in 1951 following the departure of the foreign missionaries. After Wáng’s refusal to participate in the denunciation of other Christians, he was arrested in 1969 and executed four years later in a stadium in front of 10,000 people. Many of those present were Christians who were indignant. Shortly after the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), Wáng was rehabilitated, and the church in Wǔdìng grew more than tenfold in the following years. Wáng is remembered at the Westminster Abbey in London as one of 10 twentieth-century martyrs.

Australian China Inland Missionary Maurice Hutton 胡致中 (1888–?) introduced the Phonetic Alphabet 注音字母 in the 1920s and completed the New Testament (1934) in the Hmu language as well as the Gospels of Mark and John (1937) in the Gejia language, another Miao language spoken in Guìzhōu Province. More details on Hutton’s work as well as on the New Testament completed in 2009 are provided on the Hmupage of this website.  

Tai-Kadai Minorities (6)

The Tai-Kadai family consists of more than 96 languages spoken by 100 million people in China, Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. Tai-Kadai people are believed to originate from some of the ancient Bǎiyuè 百越 people, who lived more than 2,500 years ago. In manuscripts of the Hàn dynasty 汉朝 (BC 206––AD 220), the Zhuàng 壮, the Bùyī 布依 and the Hlai 黎 people were variously referred to as Luòyuè 雒越; the Tai people were called Diānyuè 滇越.

Scholars agree that the Tai people outside of China originated from Guìzhōu, Guǎngxī, and Guǎngdōng provinces within China. Different theories exist about the exact time when the Tai people migrated to Yúnnán, Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos.

Historian Henry Davies proposed in 1909 that after the defeat of the Dàlĭ Kingdom 大理国 by the Mongols in 1253, there was a massive migration of Tai people into Southeast Asia; this theory is based on the idea that the Dàlĭ Kingdom and the earlier Nánzhào Kingdom 南诏国 were established by Tai people.

In 1923, missionary-scholar William Clifton Dodd forwarded a slightly refined hypothesis, which claimed that the Mongolian conquest of 1253 was the last and not the first in a series of drivers for Tai migration into Southeast Asia.

The connection of the Tai people with the Nánzhào Kingdom was disproved by several scholars who argued that in both kingdoms, the ordinary people were Bái and the ruling elite . The Tai people did not have a sufficiently significant role to justify fear of a Mongolian invasion. Using evidence from Chinese manuscripts of different dynasties, these historians further claimed the existence of a Tai Kingdom in today’s borders since at least the Western Hàn dynasty 西汉朝 (BC 206—AD 9).

Rock Paintings of Huā MountainSpurred by discoveries of archaeological sites such as Ban Chiang, Thai scholar Wongthet (1986) suggested a prehistoric presence of Tai people in Thailand. Upon inspection of the Rock Paintings of Huā Mountain (花山壁画) in Guǎngxī Province, Wongthet (1994) modified his theory in 1994 and speculated that Guǎngxī, the homeland of the Zhuang people, might be the historic origin of the Tai people. Chinese historians, including Chen Lüfan (1990), proposed a similar theory according to which the Tai people originated from the ancient Luòyuè 雒越 people, one subgroup of the Bǎiyuè 百越 people.

From a linguistic perspective, Chamberlain (1997) proposed the Tai-Kadai hypothesis, which is now rather widely accepted. According to this theory, Proto-Tai separated from other Kadai languages around BC 330.

Although Tai-Kadai people account for more than 22 million speakers in China, no full Bible has ever been completed in any of these languages. The New Testament was translated into three languages—Southern Dòng, Yōngběi Zhuàng, and Tai Lü—and Old Testament translations are in progress.









Southern Kam 侗语

Tai-Kadai, Kam-Sui






Bùyī 布依语

Tai-Kadai, Tai, Northern






Yōngběi Zhuàng 邕北壮语

Tai-Kadai, Tai, Northern






Tai Lü 傣仂语

Tai-Kadai, Tai, Southwestern


1921 1933



Tai Ya 花腰傣语

Tai-Kadai, Tai, Southwestern






Tai Nüa 傣那傣语

Tai-Kadai, Tai, Southwestern





Table 8: Bible Translation in Tai-Kadai Languages of China

Information on the Southern Kam (Dòng) New Testament will be introduced on the Kampage of this website.

Gospel of Matthew 3: 1-4 in BùyīThe British missionary Samuel Clarke 克拉克 (1853–1946) was stationed in Guìzhōu Province in the early 1890s to work among the indigenous people. He first learned the Hmu language and by 1896, he compiled a Hmu language primer, a catechism, some tracts, and several hymns. After the tragic murder of his colleague William Fleming 明鑑光 in 1898 by opponents to the mission, Clarke turned to the Bùyī people and devised a Romanized script in which tones are marked by diacritics. By 1904, he and a team of native speakers translated the Gospel of Matthew in Bùyī, which was published by the BFBS in Shànghăi in the same year. Subsequently, Clarke did not translate other portions of the Bible into Bùyī because he assumed the more general function of a mission superintendent. Foreign missionaries began a new translation of the Bible in Bùyī in the early 2000s. Informal drafts of the translation are still circulating. Two American missionaries settled in Guǎngxī 广西 Province in 1992 and translated the New Testament into Northern (Yōngběi) Zhuàng 邕北壮语 in 2016.

Portions of the Bible were translated into three Tai languages in the early twentieth century: Tai Lü, Tai Ya, and Tai Nüa.

Tai Lü Woman, 1918The ministry of Claude Mason and Lyle Beebe of the American Presbyterian Mission among the Tai Lü people is remarkable. They arrived in Sipsongpanna/Xīshuāngbǎnnà(สิบสองปันนา/西双版纳) in 1917 to evangelize the Tai Lü people. The ministry was allotted a piece of land by the Tai chieftain in the Jǐnghóng 景洪 district, and it built a church and hospital. The ministry reached out to the outcasts of the Tai society: the lepers and demon-possessed people (there existed a somewhat arbitrary and sometimes abusive process by which people were declared demon-possessed.) These outcasts were forced to roam in the wilderness to survive until they died a dreadful death. Mason and Beebe evangelized them and settled them in special “Christian villages.” Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Beebe translated the Gospels of Luke and John into Tai Lü by 1921 and the entire New Testament by 1933. The number of baptized believers increased to 300 after the publication of the New Testament. By 1942, the missionaries had to leave because of the general political situation, and in the 1950s, church activities came to a gradual halt. In the 1980s, after the Cultural Revolution, Christian life was resumed, the “Christian villages” were reorganized, and the churches were rebuilt.

Water-Splashing Festival of the Tai peopleWilliam Clifton and Isabella Eakin Dodd of the American Presbyterian Mission arrived in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand in 1886. William Dodd took a number of significant exploratory trips into Eastern Burma and Southern China and wrote travel reports and scholarly papers that raised interest in the Tai people. On several of his trips during 1910–1916, he evangelized the Tai Ya in Hónghé 红河 and Yùxī 玉溪 prefectures, China. William Dodd and his wife settled in Jǐnghóng 景洪 in 1917 to better reach out to the different Tai groups in China, but he died only two years later in 1919. His widow, Isabella, adapted the Lao script for writing in Tai Ya and translated the Gospel of Matthew into Tai Ya by 1922, which was published by the American Bible Society in Bangkok.

The Swedish Free Mission, a mission of Pentecostal Assemblies in Sweden, started working in Yúnnán Province in 1922 under the auspices of Anna and Zakris Zakrisson. Their colleague, Endy Johansson, was appointed as a missionary to the Tai Nüa in Déhóng 德宏 Prefecture, which borders Myanmar, at the beginning of the 1920s. As the Tai Nüa people have their own 700-year-old alphabetic script for writing Buddhist texts, called Tai Le, Johansson used this script for Bible translation. In 1931, Johansson completed the Gospel of Mark with the assistance of his Tai Nüa teacher Kong, and the BFBS published the Gospel in the same year. Endy Johansson left Yúnnán before completing the New Testament.

Tibeto-Burman Minorities (14)

The Tibeto-Burman languages total more than 450 languages, and together with the Sinitic languages, they form the Sino-Tibetan language family. The Tibeto-Burman people dwell in India, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, Thailand, and China.

Five complete Bibles were translated in Tibeto-Burman languages of China, Standard Tibetan (1948), Flowery Lisu (1968), Achang (2011), Black Lisu or Lipo (2016), and Black Yi or Nasu (2016). There are six languages with only New Testaments and three languages with only Bible portions. Details are shown in the following chart.










Standard Tibetan 藏语

Tibeto-Burman, Bodish


1862 1885 1948


Zaiwa 景颇语

Tibeto-Burman, Burmish, North


1939 2009



Āchāng 阿昌语

Tibeto-Burman, Burmish, North



1992 2011


Flowery Lisu 花傈僳语

Tibeto-Burman, Lolo, Central


1921 1938 1968


Black Lisu 黑傈僳语

Tibeto-Burman, Lolo, Central


1912 1951 2016


Alupu 干彝语

Tibeto-Burman, Lolo, Central


1912 2016



Nasupu 黑彝语

Tibeto-Burman, Lolo, Central


1923 1948 2016


Lahu Shi 黄拉祜语

Tibeto-Burman, Lolo, Central


2009 2015



Nusu 怒语

Tibeto-Burman, Lolo, Central






Kopu 白彝语

Tibeto-Burman, Lolo, North


1913 2015



Nuosu 凉山黑彝语

Tibeto-Burman, Lolo, North






Neasu 黔西彝语

Tibeto-Burman, Lolo, North






Kǎduō Hāní 卡多哈尼语

Tibeto-Burman, Lolo, South






Nàxī 纳西语

Tibeto-Burman, Tangut-Qiangic





Table 9: Bible Translation in Tibeto-Burman Languages of China

Heinrich A. JäschkeMore than one million speakers of Standard Tibetan dwell in Tibet, China and only 100,000 live in India and Nepal. The story of the Tibetan Bible began in 1856, when Khedrup Gyatso (1838–1856), the eleventh Dalai Lama, suddenly died in the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Tempu Gergan, the Minister of Finance, was suspected of murdering the Dalai Lama. He fled Lhasa and settled down in the Luba valley near Leh (Ladakh) in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. In the 1850s, the Moravian Church, with roots in the reformer Jan Hus (1369–1415), sent William Heyde, Edward Pagel, Heinrich August Jäschke, and later August Francke to Western Tibet. They settled down in Leh in 1858 and benefited from the help of Tempu Gergan, the owner of the land where they established a mission. After the death of Tempu Gergan, his son, Sonam Gergan, converted to Christianity and changed his name to Yoseb Gergan.

Tibetan Pastor Yoseb GerganYoseb Gergan became the main translator of the Tibetan Bible. Jäschke, who led the translation project, chose Lhasa Tibetan as the basic speech but allowed elements of Classical Tibetan in the target language. The Gospel of John was translated in 1862 and printed in Lahul, India. The New Testament was completed in 1885 and printed in Ladakh, India, two years after the death of Jäschke.

An Old Testament committee was formed in 1891, which included August Francke of the Moravian Church, British trade agent David MacDonald at Yatung, and Tibetan pastor Yoseb Gergan. Gergan produced the first draft of the Old Testament in 1910 and sent it to Francke, who corrected the manuscript and discussed it with MacDonald. The entire Bible was completed before the Second World War, but was not published until 1948 by the Bible Society of India and Ceylon in Lahore.


Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, China Tibetan Bible (1948)

The China Inland Mission (CIM) 内地会 missionaries Francis and Jennie Fitzwilliam (USA) settled in Yúnnán Province in 1927 to work with the Lisu. However, after their first furlough in 1935, they began working with the Zaiwa people in Lǒngchuān 陇川 along the Burmese border and translated the Gospel of Mark into Zaiwa in 1938. They used the Fraser script (originally devised for Lisu), and the manuscript was published privately and printed in Zhīfú 芝罘, Shandong, China. After the death of Francis Fitzwilliam in 1940, the translation project was canceled. Half a century later in 1990, Mark Wannemacher of Wycliffe USA settled in Thailand to work from there with the Zaiwa people in China and Myanmar. A team of native speakers coordinated by Wannemacher translated the New Testament into Zaiwa in 2009, using the Zaiwa orthography created by the Chinese Government in the 1950s.

The Achang translator Nasaw Sampu completed the first New Testament in 1992 using the Romanized script of the Chinese Government. The manuscript was published by the Asian Christian Service, which printed 1,000 copies in Hong Kong. Doug and Connie Inglis of Wycliffe Canada, who were stationed in Thailand, advised the Old Testament project with Nasaw Sampu, who served as the main translator. The entire Bible was completed in 2009 and published by the Bible Society of Myanmar in Rangoon.

James Outram Fraser 富能仁 (1886–1938) of the China Inland Mission (CIM) had a successful ministry among the Flowery Lisu people in Northeastern Yúnnán Province. He designed the Fraser Script for translating the New Testament into Lisu. Fraser organized converts into self-supporting indigenous churches. He completed the Gospel of Mark in 1922, went on a furlough to England during 1924–1926, and continued the work after his return. He was joined by CIM missionaries Allyn and Leila Cooke. The Cookes, with the help of Lisu assistant Moses Nguali, took responsibility for the translation work in the 1930s. The Cookes and Moses Nguali completed the New Testament in 1938, which is the same year Fraser died from malaria. He was buried in Baoshan, Yúnnán, leaving his wife and three children. An estimated 600 Lisu believers were baptized by 1918. By 1950, this number grew to 14,800 and by the 1990s, to more than 100,000. The translation of the Lisu Old Testament began in 1956 in Chiang Mai, Thailand by a committee established by the China Inland Mission, which was renamed the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in 1964. The committee included Allyn Cooke, John Kuhn, and Allan Crane. The translators completed the entire Bible in 1968.

James Fraser 富能仁 James Fraser with indigenous Christians Flowery Lisu New Testament

George Edgar Metcalf 王懷仁 (1879–1956), an English missionary of the China Inland Mission (CIM), translated the Gospel of Matthew into Black Lisu (Eastern Lipo) in 1912 and the entire New Testament in 1951.

Lipo New TestamentUpon completion of the New Testament, he was forced to leave China following the Communist victory over the Republican government. Metcalf carried a hand-written copy to Hong Kong and left one copy with the Lisu/Lipo church that he had established. However, the church’s copy was lost, but Metcalf’s copy survived and was printed at the China House in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the copies that were sent to Yúnnán Province were never received. In 1999, George Metcalf’s daughter Ruth presented the Black Lisu New Testament to the Religious Affairs Bureau in Wŭdìng 武定 County, Yúnnán. Since the beginning, the Black Lisu people have been receptive of Christianity as evidenced in 1912, when hundreds of Eastern Lisu were reported baptized. According to one account, there were 60,000 Lisu/Lipo Christians in Eastern Chŭxióng 楚雄 in 1999. An anonymous mission organization published the entire New Testament in Pollard Script in 2002, probably using Metcalf’s original translation.

In 1992, before Ruth Metcalf presented her father’s translation of the New Testament to the Religious Bureau of Wŭdìng, the Yúnnán Three-Self Church instituted a Lipo translation committee, including Elder Bi Hongzheng and 13 Lipo pastoral co-workers. The group integrated, revised the New Testament of 1951, and translated the Old Testament during 1992–2013. During the translation process, the committee engaged consultants of the United Bible Societies for assistance. In 2016, the China Christian Council published the Bible.

The Naxi 纳西 Nationality in Yúnnán Province has attracted international scholarly attention mainly because of their cultural features: their matriarchal family structure and traditional pictographic script.

Lìjiāng in Yúnnán province Naxi Traditional Pictographic Script Pictograms deciphered

Gospel of Mark 1: 1-4After coordinating with the China Inland Mission (CIM), a group of Dutch Pentecostal missionaries, including Elize Scharten (1876-1965), began missionary work in Lìjiāng 丽江 in 1912. After 1923, the group was joined by Pentecostal missionaries from England and Germany. Elize Scharten studied the Naxi language, adapted James Frazer’s Lisu script to Naxi, prepared a dictionary, and translated the Gospel of Mark, a catechism, and a song book. The Gospel of Mark was printed by the BFBS in Shànghaĭ in 1932.

Scharten founded a church attended by the Naxi and Lisu people and trained their leaders. The church, however, did not survive the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976); the building was confiscated, many members were incarcerated, and several spiritual leaders Scharten had trained died during their long emprisonment. Visitors from the Netherlands, Germany and England in the 1980s found the memory of Elize Scharten among survivors still vivid. Xuan Ke, a music and English teacher whose father belonged to Scharten’s trainees requested a copy of the Gospel of Mark which was delivered by the German Pentecostal Mission in 1988. Plans of reprinting the Gospel translation have been not been carried out due to the uncertain spiritual needs of the Naxi people in the Lìjiāng area.

Pŭdù Suspension Bridge, LùquànThe Australian missionary Gladstone Porteous 张尔昌 (1874–1944) of the China Inland Mission (CIM) experienced a successful ministry among the Nasupu 黑彝 people in Lùquàn 禄劝 and Wǔdìng 武定 Counties in Chuxiong, Yúnnán.

He arrived in Yúnnán in 1907, established a theological training center in Sāyíngpán 撒营盘 township of Lùquàn by 1912, and reached out to the Nasupu (Yí) and Hmong (Miáo). He translated the Gospel of Luke into Nasu in 1923. Before completing the New Testament, Gladstone Porteous died from typhoid in 1944 in Sāyíngpán, where he was buried.

Nasu New Testament of 1948His collaborators finished the translation of the New Testament in 1948 using the Pollard Script. The manuscript was published by China Bible House in Shànghăi in the same year. At Porteous’ death, there were 20,000 Nasupu and Hmong believers in Lùquàn and Wǔdìng; by 2011, this number reportedly doubled. Lùquàn and Wǔdìng counties are still Christian strongholds today, partly because of the testimony of Wáng Zhìmíng, a native Hmong pastor of Wǔdìng, who refused to participate in the denunciation of other Christians during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). When he was arrested in 1969 and executed four years later in a stadium in front of 10,000 people, many villagers in Lùquàn and Wǔdìng converted to Christianity.

In the 1990s, the Yúnnán Chinese Christian Council (CCC) instituted a translation committee for the Nasupu Old Testament, including native pastor Wen Fu. The committee completed the Old Testament before 2010 and then revised the New Testament of 1948. After a lengthy approval process, the entire Bible was published by the CCC in 2016 and printed at Amity Press in Nánjīng.

Two teams of Sìchuān Yí and Guìzhōu Yí Christians translated the first New Testaments into Nuosu (2005) and Neasu (2018). Information on these translations is provided on the Nuosu 凉山彝  and Neasu 黔西彝 pages of this website. Other Tibeto-Burman languages with translated Bible portions include Kaduo (Luke 1939), Zaiwa 景颇 (NT 2009), Alupu 干彝 (Mark 1912, OT 2016), Lahu Shi 黄拉祜 (NT 2015), Nusu 怒 (Mark 2010), and Kopo 白彝 (NT 2015). Some of these translations have been completed recently. 

Austro-Asiatic Minorities (2)

The Austro-Asiatic family has approximately 168 languages spoken in Southeast Asia. Prominent languages are Vietnamese (Vietnam) and Khmer (Cambodia). There are two Austro-Asiatic peoples in China forming two official nationalities, the Blang 布朗 and the Wa 佤. They are located in the southernmost part of the Yúnnán Province at the border to Myanmar and Thailand.









Blang 布朗

Austro-Asiatic, Palaungic






Wa 佤 (Vo) 

Austro-Asiatic, Palaungic





Table 10: Bible Translation in Austro-Asiatic Languages of China

The Wa Bible translation is viewed by the Wa people as fulfillment of an ancient saga. According to an old Wa myth, one day a “white brother” would bring them a book about the lost God. In the 1880s, Pu Chan, a Wa leader summoned his tribesmen that the “white brother” might be near and that they should stop killing each other and doing evil things. William Marcus Young 永伟里 of the Boston Missionary Society settled in the town of Kengtung, Burma in 1892 and set up a mission station. One day in the 1890s, Pu Chan prepared a white Wa pony that, according to a vision, would bring them to the “white brother.” The tribesmen arrived exactly at the mission station that Young had established. They asked William Young to bring them “the” book, and the Wa people converted in large numbers in the following years. In 1912, William’s son, Marcus Vincent Young永文生, moved to the district of Nuòfú 糯福 in Mènglián 孟连 County, China. He devised Romanized scripts for the Wa (Parauk dialect) language and built churches and a school there. Assisted by native Wa speakers Yaw Su, Sai Pluik, and Sara Ngao Meung, who were from Myanmar, Marcus Young translated the Gospel of John into Wa by 1934 and the entire New Testament by 1938. Both manuscripts were published by the American Baptist Mission Press in Rangoon, Burma, in 1934 and 1938, respectively.

After the mid-1980s, the Wa in China and outside of China produced independent translations of the Old Testament. The Yúnnán CCC and the Three-Self-Patriotic-Movement appointed a team of Wa pastors, including Bao Guangqiang, in 2002. The team was forced to stop its work by 2005 due to a lack of technical equipment. The United Bible Societies, which was called for assistance, sponsored computers and software, and assigned Simon Wong as a consultant. The reorganized team completed the translation of the Old Testament and the revision of the New Testament in 2016, when the CCC published the entire Wa Bible. The Bible was printed by Amity Press in Nánjīng and dedicated on October 22, 2016.

Formosan Minorities (10)

The Formosan languages are Austronesian languages spoken by the indigenous people of Taiwan. Linguists estimate about 26 Formosan languages: 10 of which are extinct, four are moribund, and three more are endangered. The indigenous speakers belong to 16 official tribes, totaling 533,600 people; this comprises 2% of the island’s population.

Taiwan History



BC 4500–AD 222

Chinese Expeditions




Chinese Qīng 清




Republic of China


Table 11: Eras in Taiwan History

The discovery of pottery and weaponry of the Neolithic Age (BC 4500–AD 400) convinced scholars to connect Taiwan’s aborigines both to Mainland China and other Polynesian groups. Chinese rulers had sent expeditions to Taiwan throughout the Three Kingdom period 三国时期 (AD 222-280) and the Sui dynasty 隋朝 (AD 590-618). After the ninth century, small groups of immigrants from the Zhejiang 浙江 coastal area settled on the Pescadores Islands 澎湖岛, which lies midway between China and Taiwan.

At the onset of the Mongol reign in 1260, many Chinese from the Yellow River valley moved to Taiwan and settled there. Constant conflicts between Chinese and Japanese pirates during the Míng dynasty 明朝 (1368–1644) had caused thousands of Chinese to take refuge in the southern part of Taiwan. At the end of the Míng dynasty, Chinese immigrants arrived in greater numbers and settled in the plains of Central Taiwan. They gradually displaced the aboriginal people, who retreated to the mountains or were assimilated to Chinese culture.

Fort Zeelandia in 1635When Spain annexed Portugal in 1580, Dutch ships were blocked from doing trade with Lisbon. The Dutch decided to turn toward Asia and founded the Dutch East India Company in the early 1600s. The goal of the company was to establish trade with China. The Dutch forced the Chinese into a deal over the Pescadores Islands and Taiwan. In 1624, the Dutch were accorded Taiwan, where they built Fort Zeelandia at Taiyoan, close to modern-day Táinán 台南. They extended their control over the whole island after they defeated Spanish invaders in 1642. By using or threatening force, the Dutch pacified the indigenous villages. In 1635, a rebellion broke out in the village of Mádòu 麻豆, killing 60 Dutch men. Troops, who were called in from abroad, quickly overcame the resistance.

Zhèng Chénggōng 郑成功The Dutch East India Company employed members of the Dutch reformed clergy (predikanten) on short-term posts, generally less than 10 years. During the Dutch period, about 32 clergymen worked in Taiwan. When a village was pacified and the villagers forsook their idols, clergymen and catechists would baptize the aboriginal people, initiate worship services, and build churches and schools. By 1650, reports of baptized indigenous believers ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 reached Holland.

In 1661, Zhèng Chénggōng 郑成功, a Míng supporter whose honorary name was Koxinga 国姓爷, fled the Manchu control, went to Taiwan, and overthrew the Dutch empire in 1662. The indigenous people persevered with Christian faith for several decades, which was attested by a Jesuit traveler in 1715. It took until the mid-nineteenth century for Western missionaries to reach the island and begin their work with no spiritual foundations to build upon.

The Míng loyalists, who fled to Taiwan, were defeated by the Manchu rulers in 1683. Long-term instability with numerous rebellions by Míng supporters and by indigenous people caused the Manchu Government to station tens of thousands of troops in Taiwan. By the nineteenth century, Taiwan was divided into four counties. Each county had urban centers, Chinese villages, assimilated indigenous villages, and “savage” native villages.

Spanish Dominican missionaries from Manila arrived in Taiwan in 1859, one of whom was Father Fernando Sainz. During the 15 years of their ministry, several hundred aborigines converted to the Christian faith. In the 1860s and 1870s, three English Presbyterian missionaries, James Maxwell 马雅各 (1836–1921), William Campbell 甘为霖 (1841–1921), and Thomas Barclay 巴克礼 (1849–1935), settled in Táinán and established Presbyterian churches. The Christian movement among the aborigines started in the 1870s. By 1877, the Presbyterian mission statistics numbered 1,031 baptized adults in 26 chapels with 24, mostly native, preachers. The converts were essentially Siraya people.

In the wake of the Treaty of Shimonoseki (《马关条约》)—an unequal treaty to end the First Sino-Japanese War between the Empire of Japan and the Manchu government—Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895. The Japanese abandoned the Manchu strategy of containing the aborigines and adopted a more repressive policy. At the same time, the Japanese investigated the Formosan languages and cultures, publishing their findings for the outside world. After the “savage” indigenous people in the mountains were pacified in the early twentieth century, Japanese officials learned their languages and interacted with them. For this reason, older aborigines still favorably recall the Japanese era today.

After the Japanese defeat in World War II and the retreat of the Bĕijīng Republican Government to Taiwan in 1949, a new era began. The missionary movement among the “savage” aborigines, which had started in 1929, gained momentum after 1949 when Bible portions were translated into a range of indigenous languages. This movement among all the Formosan groups would eventually bring about 50% of the aborigines to the Christian faith. By 1949, there were 120 Protestant churches with 20,000 believers; by 1959, the figures tripled with 360 churches and 60,000 members. Catholic churches grew strongly in numbers only after the mid-1950s. The particular experience of the Formosan people supports the conventional thinking that any movement to the Christian faith must be sustained by Scripture translation.









Amis 阿美语

East Formosan, Central


1957 1972 1997


Bunun 布农语



1951 1973 2000


Rukai 鲁凯语




2001 2017


Siraya 西拉雅语

East Formosan, Southwest






Paiwan 排湾语



1959 1973 1993


Yami 雅美语

Malayo-Polynesian, Philippine, Bashiic


1970 1994



Atayal 泰雅语



1964 1974 2003


Seediq 赛德克语



1956 1963 2005


Puyuma 卑南语







Tsou 邹语






Table 12: Bible Translation in Languages of Taiwan

Daniel GraviusThe first Bible portion translated in an aboriginal language of Taiwan was completed in 1661. Daniel Gravius, who was a Dutch clergyman (predikant), worked in Taiwan during 1647–1651. He settled in an indigenous village of the Siraya people close to Fort Zeelandia. Otness (1999) credited Gravius with introducing livestock raising among the aborigines. Gravius learned and transcribed Siraya using a Romanized script. He translated the Gospel of Matthew and a catechism into Siraya. Parallel Siraya and Dutch texts were published in Amsterdam in 1662. Gravius was accused of slander and fined, but he was later completely exonerated by a Dutch court in what is now Jakarta, Indonesia. He returned to the Netherlands in 1661 with his reputation restored.

During the Qīng dynasty 清朝 (1644–1911), the number of Siraya speakers declined, and in the late nineteenth century, the language became extinct.

It took 289 years before missionaries were able to translate Bible portions in another aboriginal language. Pastor Hú Wénchí 胡文池 of the Presbyterian Church and his team translated the Gospel of Matthew in the Bunun language in 1951.

Several missionaries settled in Taiwan in the early 1950s. The Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society appointed Ralph Covell (1923–2013) and his wife, Ruth, as missionaries to the Nuosu people in Liángshān 凉山 in Sìchuān Province. They arrived in Liángshān in 1947/1948, but before accomplishing any work, they were forced to leave in 1951 and relocated to Taiwan. The Covells started a Bible translation project in the Seediq language in 1953 and engaged two native translators, Tailong Litok and Howat Pisao. The policy of the Taiwan government in the 1950s was to transcribe aboriginal languages using the Bopomofo script (注音符号) to differentiate itself from the Communist government, which employed the Romanized script for the minorities on the continent. Covell and his team completed the Gospel of Mark in 1956 and Acts and First Corinthians in 1957; they published the text as a monoglot. They translated the first New Testament in 1963 and subsequently the entire Bible in 2005.

Other major translations have been the Paiwan Bible in 1993, the Yami New Testament in 1994, the Amis Bible in 1997, the Bunun Bible in 2000, the Atayal Bible in 2003, the Tsou New Testament in 2012, and the Rukai Bible in 2017. For all aboriginal languages, the translation of key terms was a long and difficult process. The following table shows the titles of the Trinity in three aboriginal languages: Bunun, Seediq, and Paiwan. The name for God in the Bunun language was newly created because no suitable concept existed in the language previously.






“Father of Heaven”

“The Spirit Above”

“The Spirit” (with impersonal article)

Son of God

“Child of God”

“Child of God”

“Child of God”

Holy Spirit

Sele (from Japanese 圣霊 “Seirei”)

“Power of God”

“Most Excellent Spirit”

Table 13: Bible Terms in Three Formosan Languages


Ai, Juhong (2016). “The Politics of Identity: Identity Research on Dai Christians in Sipsongpanna.” In Yearbook of Chinese Theology, edited by Paulos Z. Huang, 48–64. Leiden: Brill.

Avetaranian, Johannes (1930). Geschichte eines Mohammedaners der Christ wurde. An autobiography completed after his death by R. Schäfer. Potsdam: Missionshandlung und Verlag. (Translated into English by J. Bechard in 2003 with the title A Muslim Who Became a Christian. Hertford, England: Authors OnLine Ltd.)

Backus, Charles (1982). The Nanchao Kingdom and T’ang China’s Southwestern Frontier. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Baum, Wilhelm, and Dietmar W. Winkler (2003). The Church of the East: A Concise History. London: RoutledgeCurzon.

Blackmore, M. (1960). “The Rise of Nan-Chao in Yúnnán.” Journal of Southeast Asian History 1, no. 2: 47–61.

Bos, Kirsten I., Verena J. Schuenemann, Brian G. Golding, Hernan A. Burbano, Nicholas Waglechner, Brian K. Coombes, Joseph B. McPhee et al. (2011). “A Draft Genome of Yersinia Pestis from Victims of the Black Death.” Nature 478, no. 7370: 506–10.

Broomhall, Marshall (1934). The Bible in China. London: The China Inland Mission.

Campbell, William (1903). Formosa Under the Dutch: Described from Contemporary Records. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trüber & Co.

Chamberlain, James R. (1997). “Tai-Kadai Arthropods: A Preliminary Biolinguistic Investigation.” In Comparative Kadai: The Tai Branch, edited by Jerald A. Edmondson and David B. Solnit, 291–326. Dallas: SIL & The University of Texas at Arlington.

Chen Lüfan (1990). 泰族起源问题研究 Whence came the Thai race - an inquiry. 昆明:国际文化出版公司 Kunming: International Culture Publisher.

Chen, Lüfan and Du Yuting. (1989). “Did Kublai Khan’s Conquest of the Dali Kingdom Give Rise to the Mass Migration of the Thai People to the South?” Journal of the Siam Society 77, no. 1: 33–41.

Clarke, Samuel R. (1904). “The Miao and Chungchia Tribes of Kweichow Province.” East of Asia Magazine 3: 193–207.

Clarke, Samuel. R. (1907). “The Province of Kweichow.” In The Chinese Empire: A General and Missionary Survey, edited by Marshall Broomhall, 251–70. London: Morgan & Scott.

Cline, Eric H. (2002). The Battles of Armageddon. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Covell, Ralph. (1998). Pentecost of the Hills in Taiwan. Pasadena: Hope Publishing House.

Crossley, Pamela K. (1997). The Manchus. New York: Wiley.

Davies, Henry R. (1909). Yúnnán, the Link between India and the Yangtze. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dodd, William C. (1923). The Tai Race: Elder Brother of the Chinese. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Torch.

Eber, Irene, Sze-Kar Wan, and Knut Walf (1999). Bible in Modern China. Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica.

Everson, Michael (2001). Revised proposal for encoding the Tai Le script in the Bitmap (BMP) of the Universal Coded Character Set (UCS). Published by the Unicode Consortium on its website on 06-Oct-2001. (Accessed on 13th of February, 2019.)

Fey, Virginia, and Afo Apack (1993). Amis Culture. Taipei: Bible Society of Taiwan.

Gorelova, Liliya M. (2002). Manchu Grammar. Leiden: Brill.

Grist, William A. (1920). Samuel Pollard: Pioneer Missionary in China. London: Cassell.

Hocken, Peter (1988). “Cecil H. Polhill - Pentecostal Layman.” Pneuma 10, no. 2: 116–140.

Hofrichter, Peter L. (2006). “Preface.” In Jingjiao: The Church of the East in China and Central Asia, edited by Roman Malek and Peter L. Hofrichter. Sankt Augustin, Germany: Institut Monumenta Serica.

Horne, Charles F. (1917). “The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East,” Vol. XII, Medieval China, 381–392. New York: Parke, Austin & Lipscomb.

Hultvall, John (1981). Mission and Revolution in Central Asia: The MCCS Work in Eastern Turkestan 1892–1938 (Studia Missionalia Upsaliensa 35). Translated by Birgitta Åhman. Stockholm: Gummessons. (The original Swedish book title was Mission och revolution i Centralasien.)

Inglis, Douglas and Connie Inglis (2003). A preliminary phonology of Ngochang, presented at the 36th Annual Sino-Tibetan Conference on Languages and Linguistics. La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. (Accessed on 15th of February, 2019.)

Latourette, Kenneth S. (1929). A History of Christian Missions in China. London: Macmillan Publishers.

Leslie, Donald D. (1998). Jews and Judaism in Traditional China. Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica.

Li, Dun Jen (1969). China in Transition: 1517-1911. Hoboken, New Jersey: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Luo Wei, John Hartmann, Li Jinfang, and Vinya Sysamouth (2000). “GIS Mapping and Analysis of Tai Linguistic and Settlement Patterns in Southern China.” Geographic Information Sciences 6: 129–36.

Maberly, Allan (2001). God Spoke Tibetan. Rockwall: Evangelical Bible Translators.

McLaughin, C. E. (2013). A salience scheme for Hmong Soud: Types of Foreground and Background Information in Narrative Discourse. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.

McLaughin, C. E. (2018). The sentence in Flowery Hmong. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Meacham, William (1996). “Defining the Hundred Yue.” Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association 15, no. 2: 93–100.

Mostaert, Antoine and Francis W. Cleaves (1952). “Trois Documents Mongols des Archives Secrètes Vaticanes.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 15, no. 3/4: 419–506.

Mote, Frederick W. (1964). “Problems of Thai Prehistory.” Social Science Review 2, no. 2: 100–09.

Mungello, David E. (2005). The Great Encounter of China and the West, 1500–1800. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Noss, Phil (2007). A History of the Bible Translation. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura.

Otness, Harold (1999). One Thousand Westerners in Taiwan, to 1945: A Biographical and Bibliographical Dictionary. Taibei: Academica Sinica.

Pollard, Walter (1928). The Life of Sam Pollard of China. London: Seeley.

Pollard, Samuel (1954). Eyes of the Earth: The Diary of Samuel Pollard. London: Cargate Press.

Richardson, Don (1981). Eternity in Their Hearts. Ventura, CA: Regal Books.

Robeck, Cecil M. (2006). The Azusa Street Mission and Revival. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Rock, Joseph F. (1947). The Ancient Na-Khi Kingdom of Southwest China, 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Saeki, Yoshio (1937). The Nestorian Documents and Relics in China. Tokyo: Academy of Oriental Culture.

Sampu, Nasaw, Wilai Jaseng, Thocha Jana, and Douglas Inglis (2005). A preliminary Ngochang - Kachin- English Lexicon. Chiang Mai: Payap University, Linguistics Department.

Spence, Jonathan (1996). God’s Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Taylor, Howard (1944). Behind the Ranges: Fraser of Lisuland S.W. China. London: Lutterworth Press and The China Inland Mission.

Tiedemann, R. G. (2009). Reference Guide to Missionary Societies in China: From the 16th to the 20th Centuries. London: Routledge.

Terwiel, Barend Jan. (1978). “The Origins of the T’ai Peoples Reconsidered.” Oriens Extremus 25, no. 2: 239–58.

The China Post (2014). Government officially recognizes two more arboriginal tribes. Published in The China Post on 27th of June, 1994. (Accessed on 9th of May, 2019.)

Van der Laan, Cornelis (1997). “Beyond the clouds: Elize Scharten (1876–1965) Pentecostal Missionary to China.” In Pentecostalism in Context (Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series 11), edited by Wonsuk Ma and Robert P. Menzies, 337–60. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

Wáng Shuòfēng 王硕丰 (2013). 《古新圣经》考 (Louis de Poirot’s) Old and New Testament. 世界宗教研究,第2期:127-132页 Research on World Religions 2:127-132.

Winai, Pongsripian (1991). “Nan-chao and the Birth of Sukhothai: Problems of the Twentieth-Century Thai Perception of the Past.” Asian Review 5:1-19.

Wongthet, Suchit (1986). Khon thai yu thi ni [The Thai Were Here]. Muang Boran, special number.

Wongthet, Suchit (1994). Khon thai yu thi ni nai utsakhane [The Thai Were Here in Southeast Asia]. Bangkok: Silpakon University.

Willeke, Bernward (1945). “The Chinese Bible Manuscript in the British Museum.” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 7, no. 4: 450–453.

Yu Suee Yan (2011). “The story of the Big Flowery Miao Bible”. Bible Translator 62(4), 207-215. United Bible Societies. (Accessed on 12-Feb-2019.)

Yule, Henry. (ed.) (1866). Cathay and the Way Thither: Being a Collection of Medieval Notices of China. Vol. 1. London: Hakluyt Society.

Zetzsche, Jost (1999). “The Work of Lifetimes: Why the Union Version Took Nearly Three Decades to Complete.” In Bible in Modern China: The Literary and Intellectual Impact, edited by Irener Eber, Sze-Kar Wan, and Knut Walf, 77–100. Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica.

Zhào Jìngxiū 赵净修 (2001). 东巴象形文常用字词译注 Dōngbā Frequent Pictograms Translated into Chinese. 昆明:云南人民出版社 Kūnmíng: Yúnnán People’s Publisher House.

Zhèng Hǎijuān 郑海娟 (2012). 贺清泰《古新圣经》研究 Research on Louis de Poirot’s Old and New Testament. 北京:北京大学 Běijīng: Běijīng University.

Zhōu Mínglǎng (2003). Multilingualism in China: The Politics of Writing Reforms for Minority Languages 1949-2002. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Zhōu Mínglǎng (2013). “Historical Review of the PRC’s Minority/Indigenous Language Policy and Practice.” In China’s Assimilationist Language Policy, edited by Gulbahar H. Beckett and Gerard A. Postiglione, 18–30. London: Routledge.