Does It Matter That Your Bible Was Made In China Where Many Christians Lack One?

Image: Scott Brauer
Image: Scott Brauer

Should consumers worried about the origins of their clothing, coffee, and chocolate focus on a more spiritual item: the Bible?

Chances are good that your favorite Bible was printed in China. The overwhelming majority of Bibles sold at Christian bookstores or Barnes & Noble were printed there, said Mark Bertrand of Bible Design Blog. And more publishers are joining in.

“A lot of people have misgivings about that,” he said. “Some of it is, ‘Oh, our Bibles are printed in Communist China.’ Others are concerned about the economic situation, about what conditions these Bibles were produced under.”

The Chinese government’s restriction of Bible distribution is also troubling, said ChinaAid’s Bob Fu. “When brothers and sisters are being persecuted and arrested for their beliefs based on the same Bible, what does it mean to purchase an exported copy that says Made in China?”

Since China’s only legal printer of Bibles, Amity Printing Company, published its first Bible in cooperation with the United Bible Societies (UBS) in 1987, 117 million Bibles have followed. More than half of those were printed in the last six years, including 12.4 million in 2013, making China the world’s biggest Bible publisher. Three out of four of last year’s Bibles were produced for export.

“The simple reason is that China is a manufacturing powerhouse in world trade,” said Amity board member David Thorne. “The more complex and interesting answer is that it is the outcome of God’s hand on the mission of the church.”

Choosing a printer comes down to “quality and competitive price,” said Tim Bensen, a buyer at Tyndale House Publishers. “We print all over the world,” he said. “Amity does good work.”

Printing Bibles is more difficult than printing other types of books, and requires a certain amount of expertise, he said.

Randy Bishop, director of Bible production at HarperCollins Christian Publishing, agrees. “Bibles have more steps in the production process,” he said. “However, the main feature that makes a Bible unique is thin paper. It takes a special expertise to print, fold, gather, and bind Bible paper.”

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

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