Negotiating Religious Gaps

The Enterprise of Translating Christian Tracts by Protestant Missionaries in Nineteenth-Century China

This book constitutes a pioneering and comprehensive text-in-context study of the translation of Christian tracts (from English into Chinese) by Protestant missionaries in nineteenth-century China. It focuses on the large body of hitherto widely neglected Protestant Chinese books and tracts, putting the translated texts into their socio-political, cultural and ideological contexts. This integrated approach proves to be fruitful and insightful in describing and explain¬ing actual practices of translation, or translation norms. The book addresses the central issue of how original texts were selected, translated and presented by Protestant missionaries under the patronage of various missionary institutions in order to achieve their specific agendas.
Based on primary materials and rare archival documents, this extensive survey of the corpus of Chinese Christian literature fills a significant gap in the evaluation of Protestant missions to China, especially with regard to the role of the Religious Tract Society (RTS). Moreover, the contributions of Chinese collaborators are examined in detail to achieve a more balanced view in accessing the role of missionary translators. The book also sheds light on the sophisticated procedures and strategies of cross-cultural translation, particularly on the facet of religious translation in the Chinese translation tradition.

“… John T.P. Lai provides a wealth of information about the development of Protestant religious publishing in late imperial China. Full of interesting data and illustrations, this work should find an audience with church historians and mission scholars.”

Joseph Tse-Hei Lee 李榭熙 in Sino-Western Cultural Relations Journal

Fields of interest: Religious Studies, Translation Studies, History of Christianity in Modern China.


Chapter 1: Translation, Protestant Missions, and the Chinese Context
Chapter 2: Institutional Patronage: The Ideological Control of Tract Societies
Chapter 3: Teamwork Translation: The Invisibility of Chinese Collaborators
Chapter 4: Christian Tracts in Chinese Costume: A Critical Survey
Chapter 5: Rewriting the Children’s Message: The Peep of Day
Chapter 6: Domesticating for Chinese Literati: The Anxious Inquirer
  Appendix A: Protestant Missionary Publishers and Societies in China
  Appendix B: Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Translators
  Appendix C: Chinese Translations of Christian Literature, 1812–1907
  Appendix D: Most Well-Received Christian Literature in Chinese, 1812–1907
  Appendix E: Favell L. Mortimer’s Works in Chinese
  Appendix F: William Muirhead’s Works in Chinese


Monumenta Serica
Collectanea Serica