Chinese translation of the Book of Mormon

Published: Saturday, Feb. 25 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

Editor's note: This is one in a series on the Book of Mormon translations and translators.

The first edition of the Book of Mormon in traditional Chinese characters had a gold embossed Moroni on the black cover.

The characters also ran up and down and the lines left to right.

Printed in Hong Kong, the first run included 5,000 copies, according to a Church News article from Jan. 29, 1966. Earlier that week, then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve, who was supervising the Asian missions, presented a copy to President David O. McKay.

"The Book of Mormon is now available in the language which is the mother tongue of more people than any other on earth," Elder Hinckley wrote in the book.

Two translators, Elder Larry K. Browning, who had served mission in Hong Kong and later went back to Taiwan under an educational grant, and Hu Wei-I, then a counselor to the mission president in the Taiwan Zone, were called and set apart by Elder Hinckley to help with the translation, according to the Church News article.

Full-time missionaries were first sent to Taiwan in 1956, according to the 2012 Church Almanac. In Hong Kong, missionaries first arrived there in 1853 and left two months later. Young, full-time elders arrived again in 1950, including Grant Heaton, but were reassigned in 1951 because of the Korean War and it was re-opened in 1955 under the direction of Heaton, according to the almanac. Heaton also helped start the translation of the Book of Mormon, according to the Church News article.

Traditional characters are used in Hong Kong and Taiwan, while simplified characters are used by those from mainland China.

Selections from the Book of Mormon in simplified characters were released in 1983 and the full book in 2001 and was the 62nd language.

In 2007, a new updated triple combination with the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, along with additional study aids, like footnotes throughout, maps, a topical guide and pictures was released. An additional character was also added to the name of the book. The previous triple combination was published in 1982.

"May it go forth among them as a witness of the Son of God, the Savior of the world," Elder Hinckley also wrote in that first edition presented to President McKay.

Email: rappleye@desnews.com

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