Global Missiology English, Vol 2, No 16 (2019)

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Language and Translation in China’s Historical Protestant Missions: Sharing the Word(s) of God in the Far East - by James W. Ellis

James W. Ellis - Hong Kong Baptist U: Research Assistant Professor Academy of Visual Arts


The European and American Protestant missions to China (1807-1953) were one of history's greatest cross-cultural encounters. By 1850, only a few dozen (mostly male) missionaries had been sent to China. Five decades later, the number had grown to approximately two-thousand-five-hundred men, women, and children. During this period, Protestant missions spread the gospel message to the Chinese populace, translating and otherwise communicating God's Word through Chinese languages and regional dialects. This essay compiles secondary accounts of how missionaries used language and translation to accomplish their evangelistic goals. Bringing together these associated accounts will inform readers who may be unfamiliar with Protestant missionaries' translation projects in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries in China.