Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A new series for the new year

kw: book summaries, watchman nee, christian ministry

Many years ago I obtained a set of The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, edited by and, for the most part, translated from Chinese by brothers who prefer to remain unnamed, and published by the Living Stream Ministry. Prior to this publication I had been reading books by Watchman Nee for nearly twenty years. A few of the earlier volumes are seen at lower right in this image, and next to them, single volumes from a paperback version, obtained prior to purchasing the whole set in hardback.

Most of the books published under Watchman Nee's name, including famous titles such as Sit, Walk, Stand and The Overcoming Life (formerly The Normal Christian Life), are translations of expanded conference notes originally taken in Chinese by a few of his early co-workers, most notably Stephen Kaung. His most controversial title, The Normal Christian Church Life (Chinese title Concerning Our Mission) was published first in Chinese and then translated by Nee into English for publication in England and the United States. In the years prior to 1939 and the outbreak of World War II he published a number of books in Chinese, but the greatest volume of his own writings was in the form of Christian newspapers that he published, most notably The Christian and The Present Testimony.

The Collected Works (CWWN) includes translations of the contents of his newspapers and the books that he published in Chinese; re-translations of other titles formerly published in English, but including source material from a wider array of conference notes; and the books and articles he translated into English himself. I once spoke to one of the translators, who told me they were guided in their work by his own translations into English. The set includes 62 volumes in three sub-sets of 20, 16 and 26 volumes, each covering a distinct phase of his ministry.

I have read parts of many of the volumes, a little here and a little there, but decided at the beginning of this year to read through them all. I plan to continue the wide variety of reading I have engaged in previously, but to alternate "other" titles with volumes from CWWN. I tag this series of posts "book summaries" because I am hardly qualified to "review" spiritual books at this level, and I hope the tidbits I am able to glean might encourage others who are less familiar with Watchman Nee's work to re-acquaint themselves with his ministry.

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