The translation of ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ in the Mandarin Bible Union Version


  • Clara Ho-yan Chan City University


Bible translation, Chinese, Union Version, New Testament, theology


This study aims to analyse the Chinese translation of ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ in the Mandarin Bible Union Version published in 1919, in order to elucidate both the translation principles used in this Chinese Bible and a controversial issue in Christian theology. The issue in question relates to whether a whole person is made up of ‘two substantive entities’ (‘spirit/soul’ and ‘body’), or ‘three substantive entities’ (‘spirit’, ‘soul’ and ‘body’). Through an in-depth discussion of these Biblical concepts in the Chinese translated New Testament with reference to the Greek originals, the study aims to clarify the various methods by which the terms are translated. The translation of these terms can provide a new perspective on the Chinese Bible’s adoption of particular translation approaches and the ‘new language style’ of the early 20th century, which allows a better understanding of this Bible’s special role in the development of Modern Chinese.