The Bible Society”s activities started in Vietnam in the 1890s, with the frequent visits from the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFSB) based in Hong Kong. Later a BFBS depot was set up in Saigon (45, route Fédérale, Gia Dinh), to serve the Scripture needs in what was then French Indochina.
The first Vietnamese Bible was published in 1926. The translator was a missionary from the Christian and Missionary Alliance. This Bible has so far been the bestseller of the Vietnamese Bible.
The Bible Society in Vietnam was founded in 1966 in Saigon and mostly served the Scripture needs in South Vietnam.
In 1974 the Bible Society in Vietnam organized a translation workshop in Dalat. Leaders from both Protestant and Catholic Churches were invited to attend the workshop led by UBS translation consultants. An inter-confessional translation committee was formed to start a new translation project in common Vietnamese.
When the ‘Vietnam War’ came to an end in April 1975 with the victory of the communists, the Bible Society office was closed and the Bible Society activities were interrupted for more than 15 years.
After the visit of one of the UBS Consultants in 1990, one of the Evangelical Church pastors in Hanoi obtained permission from the government to import 5,000 copies of the Vietnamese Bible from Korea.
In 1991, another Evangelical Church leader obtained permission from the government to print Bibles in Vietnam. The first 5,000 copies were printed in Ho Chi Minh City, and a celebration marking the release of this first print run was held in the Danang Evangelical Church on Easter morning in 1992. This was the beginning of the re-establishment of the Bible work in Vietnam.
Almost at the same time, when UBS representatives visited Vietnam in 1991, they discovered that the Catholic members of the translation team took risks during these restricted years continuing their work, and completed the whole Bible, according to UBS translation principles learnt at the Dalat’s workshop in 1974. The Bible in Vietnamese Common Language was published and dedicated in 1993, which is now widely used among Vietnamese Catholics.
Since then, over 450,000 copies of Bibles and 300,000 copies of NTs have been printed and distributed to the Protestants, and over 250,000 copies of Bibles and 1,900,000 copies of NTs for the Catholics Church, which makes a total of more than 700,000 copies of Bible and 2,200,000 copies of the New Testament.
Presently although there is no official Bible Society office in Vietnam, the ministry of the Bible Society is organized as a partnership between the Church in Vietnam and the United Bible Societies (UBS). The UBS is working closely with national Church leaders to plan the publishing and printing of the Scriptures. The Churches are responsible for distribution. Beside Bibles and New Testaments, Scripture portions have also been produced every year for youth, children, new readers (especially among ethnic minorities) and Visually Impaired Persons.
The Revised Vietnamese Bible project started in 1998 is now in the last stage. A translation team of 3 Vietnamese pastors has been working on this project with assistance from UBS Translation Consultants. This Revised Bible is scheduled to be launched in 2011, when the Protestant Church celebrates its centennial.