|Abstract as per original application
Drawing on unpublished and underutilized archival materials from Hong Kong and overseas, this project aims to study how Hong Kong evolved from a city occupying a relatively peripheral position in the enterprise of Chinese Protestant Bible publishing and distribution in Republican China (1912-1949), into the world centre for such enterprise between 1951 and 1965, with a focus on the work of the Hong Kong Bible House (HKBH) and its overseas sponsoring Bible societies, namely the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS), the American Bible Society (ABS) and the National Bible Society of Scotland (NBSS). Its findings will enhance our understanding of Hong Kong’s historical role as a space facilitating the international movement of people, capital and ideas from a religious perspective in general, and Hong Kong’s contributions in the modern history of Chinese Protestant Christianity in particular.
This project will consist of three parts. The first part will study the background of Hong Kong’s evolution into the world centre for Chinese Protestant Bible publishing and distribution. It will explore the favourable conditions for such evolution, and explain why the China Bible House (CBH), the de facto national Bible society in China, the governance of which the BFBS, the ABS and the NBSS were involved in, established an emergency office in Hong Kong but not elsewhere in 1949 in response to the political changes in Mainland China. The second part will study the development of the HKBH, the successor to the CBH’s Hong Kong emergency office, as a Chinese Protestant Bible publisher and distributor during the 1950s within the context of the Cold War geopolitical climate. It will particularly examine how the HKBH, capitalizing on its sponsoring Bible societies’ distribution networks in their home countries and overseas, developed a transnational Bible distribution network that helped support the religious life of Chinese Protestant communities outside Mainland China, such as those in Taiwan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States, by ensuring a steady and reliable supply of affordable Bibles published by the HKBH to cater for their pastoral and evangelistic needs. The third part will focus on the HKBH’s history from 1960 to 1965, i.e. its final years as the sole agency jointly supported by the overseas Bible societies to work among Chinese-speaking people, examining why, despite its organizational changes, notably the independence of its branch in Taiwan, the HKBH’s significance to transnational Chinese Protestant Bible publishing and distribution was unaffected.