LOS ANGELES – Bible pages, yellowed with age, reveals the evolution of Bible printing in the China.
The China Bible exhibit, which debuted Thursday, featured Bibles ranging from vintage relics to editions printed for Chinese ethnic-minority groups.
“From 1981 through 2005, more than 39.46 million Bibles have been published,” stated a press handout given at the exhibition’s debut.
Featured behind glass displays were copies of Chinese Bibles printed by the London Missionary Society – credited with sending missionary Robert Morrison, who translated the first complete Chinese Bible in the early part of the nineteenth century.
Few vintage Bibles remain, as Red Guards burned many during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1967.
A few Christians made attempts to preserve the Bible, including making handwritten copies. One woman from the Anhui province hid her Bible in a grain vessel. Later her daughter, Ma Jianhua, would become the pastor of the government-sanctioned Huangshian Church.
Efforts to print Bibles following the Cultural Revolution began with the formation of the China Christian Council in 1980. The Amity Printing Press – associated with the CCC – claimed to have printed 2.5 million Bibles every year for the last decade.
U.S. public figures expressed their praise to those involved with the printing process.
"I believe that the exposition that will be conducted will be a good learning experience for Americans to see what is going on more and more in China," said former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, in a promotional-video shown during the exhibition’s debut.
In addition to showing Bibles that were printed in China, the exhibit also showed Chinese Christian artwork including an intricate wood carving showing scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.
A master calligrapher and Chinese artist could be seen creating works of art for anyone willing to contribute money. Artworks on display included paper-cuttings, scroll-paintings and biblical calligraphy.
On the second day of the Los Angeles exhibit, visitors were treated to singing performances led by ethnic-minority Lisu tribes people. The exhibit featured a cultural display showing Bibles translated for China’s ethnic-minorities.
The first China Bible exhibition tour was hosted in Hong Kong in August 2004. The exhibit attracted 30,000 people.
This marks the first China Bible exhibit tour within the United States.
The Los Angeles exhibit will conclude May 4, and will move to Atlanta, Georgia’s Second Ponce de Leon’s Baptist Church May 19-24. The exhibition will finish its U.S. tour at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine on June 5-12.