More Information
ISBN: 9781783684694
Imprint: Langham Monographs
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 22.7
Publication Date: 31/08/2018
Pages: 442
Series: Studies in Bible Translation
Language: English

Translating Nephesh in the Psalms into Chinese

An Exercise in Intergenerational and Literary Bible Translation


This interdisciplinary study tackles the controversy of translating nephesh ( נפֶֶשׁ ) by using an intergenerational translation team to deepen our understanding of this term and providing a more valuable translation in Chinese, especially for use in specialist Children’s Bibles.

Traditionally nephesh is often translated in the Bible as ‘soul’, but despite the limitations of this popular rendering, it has led Christians in Chinese contexts to falsely understand views regarding the nature of human beings as a trichotomy. Dr Hui Er Yu’s study offers different options for translating nephesh using the context of where the word appears in Scripture as well as in reference to linguistic and cultural meanings in Chinese contexts. The findings in this book will help to remove anthropological misunderstandings among many Chinese Christians related to nephesh as a result of historic translation decisions.

Dr Yu takes a unique approach to translation by using an intergenerational Bible translation team, ranging from seven to fifty-one years of age, which not only demonstrates the importance of intergenerational ministry but also presents a way to fulfill the growing need for well translated Children’s Bibles in China for thousands of young believers. This book provides important lessons for the many translation projects working towards Children’s Bibles but also for how translation of biblical terms can be better reached through this intergenerational process.

Author Bios

Hui Er Yu

HUI ER YU gained her PhD from the South African Theological Seminary, Sandton, South Africa, in 2017. She emigrated from her native country, Taiwan, to pursue theological education and currently works as the Children’s Ministry Director at North York Christian Community Church, Toronto, Canada and has been involved in children’s ministry for over sixteen years. Hui Er Yu was a recipient of the Frederick Buechner Award for excellence in writing (2017).


The principles and procedures that undergird the new field of intergenerational ministry are fresh and appealing. This work will be of benefit, especially to those who are interested in interdisciplinary study, as it yields proper biblical insights into anthropology and places considerable worth on the task of accurate Bible translation and rigorous textual analysis. For that we can be grateful to its author.

Dennis Ngien, PhD
Professor of Systematic Theology,
Tyndale University College and Seminary
Research Professor,
Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

The most remarkable aspect of Dr Yu’s research is that she pioneered the inclusion of children and youth in an intergenerational Bible translation team. This not only challenges the traditional understanding of the role of children in Christian ministry but practically shows how to optimize and integrate their contribution in the very sophisticated enterprise of Bible translation.

Johannes Malherbe, PhD
Head of Academics, Postgraduate School,
South African Theological Seminary

Describing the history of the approach to Bible translation in general and specifically the history of Chinese Bible translation, Hui Er Yu applies insights from the various disciplines to reach conclusions that highlight important ways in which the insights can be applied to provide accurate and effective translations of the Bible. She is to be particularly commended for bringing children into the conversation about Bible translation.

Véroni Krüger, PhD
Founder-President, The Word for the World Bible Translators

It is a great pleasure to endorse the work of a person who is very gifted with biblical languages and research. Dr Yu’s work opens a new door for Chinese Bible translation by clarifying the various concepts of the word “nephesh.”

Kyungrae Kim, PhD
Vice President and Academic Dean,
Faith Bible Seminary, New York

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword
  2. Preface
  3. Acknowledgements
  4. Abstract
  5. List of Abbreviations
  6. Chapter 1
    1. Introduction
      1. 1.1 The Gap
      2. 1.2 Bridging the Gap
      3. 1.3 Objectives of the Study
      4. 1.4 Outline
      5. 1.5 Hypothesis
      6. 1.6 Key Terms
          1. 1.6.1 First Language and Mother Tongue
          2. 1.6.2 Common Language
        1. 1.7 Delimitations
          1. 1.7.1 The Selected Passages for Translating
          2. 1.7.2 The History of Bible Translation
          3. 1.7.3 The Theory of Translation
          4. 1.7.4 The Enterprise of Bible Translation
          5. 1.7.5 Bible Versions
        2. 1.8 Presuppositions
          1. 1.8.1 The Nature of the Scriptures
          2. 1.8.2 The Issue of Formal and Dynamic/Functional Translation
          3. 1.8.3 Gospel, Language and Culture
        3. 1.9 Potential Value
    2. Chapter 2
      1. A Literary Approach to Bible Translation
        1. 2.1. Introduction
        2. 2.2. The History and Major Issues of Bible Translation
          1. 2.2.1. Introduction
          2. 2.2.2. Early Bible Translation and Related Issues
          3. 2.2.3 A Brief History and Major Issues of Chinese Bible Translation
          4. 2.2.4 Conclusion
        3. 2.3 The Development of Translation Studies
          1. 2.3.1. Introduction
          2. 2.3.2 The Development of the Field of Translation
          3. 2.3.3 LiFE: A Literary Functional-Equivalence Model
        4. 2.4 Conclusion
    3. Chapter 3
      1. Children as Crucial Members of an Intergenerational Bible Translation Team
        1. 3.1 Introduction
        2. 3.2 An Overview of Childhood Studies
          1. 3.2.1 Introduction
          2. 3.2.2 Key Concepts in Childhood Studies
          3. 3.2.3 The Birth of Childhood Studies
          4. 3.2.4 The Development of Childhood Studies in Christianity
        3. 3.3 Insights from Childhood Studies for the Present Research
          1. 3.3.1 Introduction
          2. 3.3.2 Children Are Integral to the Church
          3. 3.3.3 Children Need the Whole Bible
          4. 3.3.4 Children Can Contribute to the Enterprise of Bible Translation
          5. 3.3.5 Conclusion
        4. 3.4 Intentional Intergenerational Ministry
          1. 3.4.1 Introduction
          2. 3.4.2 The Term IIM
          3. 3.4.3 The Foundations of IIM
          4. 3.4.4 The Practices of IIM
          5. 3.4.5 The Outcomes of IIM
        5. 3.5 Conclusion
    4. Chapter 4
      1. The Possible Meanings of the Hebrew Word נפֶֶשׁ in the OT and Its Translation in Chinese
        1. 4.1 Introduction
        2. 4.2 A Brief Literature Review of the Hebrew Word נפֶֶשׁ
          1. 4.2.1 Introduction
          2. 4.2.2 Etymological Issues
          3. 4.2.3 A Brief Survey of the Etymological Study onנפֶֶשׁ
          4. 4.2.4 The Term נֶפ֥שׁ in the Hebrew OT
          5. 4.2.5 The Term נֶפ֥שׁ and its Greek Equivalent ψυχή in the LXX and the NT
          6. 4.2.6 Conclusion
        3. 4.3 The Interpretations of נפֶֶשׁ in Chinese Bible Versions
          1. 4.3.1 Introduction
          2. 4.3.2 The Interpretations of נפֶֶשׁ in RCUV
          3. 4.3.3 Conclusion
        4. 4.4 The Divergence in the Interpretations of נפֶֶשׁ
          1. 4.4.1 Introduction
          2. 4.4.2 The Divergence in the Interpretations of נפֶֶשׁ among Prominent Chinese and English Bible Versions
          3. 4.4.3 Conclusion
        5. 4.5 The Controversy over Watchman Nee’s Trichotomy
          1. 4.5.1 Introduction
          2. 4.5.2 Nee’s Argument on the Translations of נפֶֶשׁ /ψυχή and רוּחַ /πνεῦμα
          3. 4.5.3 An Overview of Nee’s Teaching on Man as Tripartite Being
          4. 4.5.4 The Controversy Caused by Nee’s Tripartite Theological Anthropology
          5. 4.5.5 A Way to Reduce the Controversy
          6. 4.5.6 Conclusion
        6. 4.6 A Call for Reconsidering the Translation of נפֶֶשׁ
    5. Chapter 5
      1. Translating נפֶֶשׁ in the Psalms into Chinese: An Exercise in Intergenerational, Literary Bible Translation
        1. 5.1 Introduction
        2. 5.2 The Training Course for the Intergenerational Bible Translation Team
        3. 5.3 The Exercise in Intergenerational, Literary Bible Translation
          1. 5.3.1 Psalm 35
          2. 5.3.2 Psalm 63
          3. 5.3.3 Psalm 107
        4. 5.4 Further Discussions/Observations
          1. 5.4.1 The Appropriate Translation of נפֶֶשׁ in the Three Selected Psalms
          2. 5.4.2 The Critical Issue Regarding the Chinese Translations of 308
          3. 5.4.3 The Version Readable for All Generations by the IBTT through LiFE
        5. 5.5 Conclusion
    6. Chapter 6
      1. Conclusion – Findings and Implications
        1. 6.1 Introduction
        2. 6.2 Summary of Research Findings Regarding נפֶֶשׁ
        3. 6.3 Summary of the Foundations for Intergenerational
        4. Participation in Bible Translation
        5. 6.4 Feedback, Comments, and Reflections Regarding
          1. Intergenerational, Literary Bible Translation
          2. 6.4.1 The Feedback from the Participants
          3. 6.4.2 The Comments of OT Scholars
          4. 6.4.3 The Reflection on Wendland’s LiFE
          5. 6.4.4 Some General Observations Regarding Bible Translation
        6. 6.5 Future Perspectives
          1. 6.5.1 Expanding the Horizon
          2. 6.5.2 Training Church Leaders
          3. 6.5.3 Training Congregations
          4. 6.5.4 Launching the Intergenerational Bible Translation
        7. 6.6 Final Comments
    7. Appendix A
      1. The IBTT’s Suggestions on the Translation of נפֶֶשׁ
    8. Appendix B
      1. The Feedback from the Participants of the IBTT
    9. Bibliography
    10. List of Chinese Dictionaries Used
    11. Subject Index
    12. Author Index
    13. Scripture Index