Gujarati is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in Gujarat State, India. It has more than 40 million speakers and is written in the Gujarati script, a cursive form of Devanagari that was known as Mahajani. The language is also the mother-tongue of the Parsi community. The Gujaratis, whose main religion is Hinduism, have long been one of the leading mercantile races of India.
The Gujarati language attracted the attention of the Serampore missionaries, but well before their time, a trace of Gujarati is found in the work of the indefatigable German missionary, Benjamin Schultze (1689–1760). Schultze was interested in Gujarati as well as Tamil, Telugu, Dakhini, and Marathi. A version of the Lord's Prayer in the ordinary Gujarati characters and in Roman script was found among his papers, together with an interlinear translation in Latin.
In 1809 the Serampore missionaries published Matthew, but they suspended their work until 1813, and it was thus only in 1820 that their New Testament was issued. However, it was not intelligible in Gujarat.
The Bombay Auxiliary Bible Society published the New Testament in 1821, the work of two LMS missionaries, William Fyvie and James Skinner, who had arrived at Surat in 1815. By 1817 they had translated the whole of the New Testament and the Pentateuch. In 1820 they had set up their own mission press in Surat and had printed the New Testament in eight parts. Skinner died, but Fyvie was joined by his brother Alexander in 1822, and the two of them brought out the complete Old Testament, the last of its eighteen parts appearing in 1823. This was a marvelous achievement for men who had no special education.
Later, Dr. James Glasgow, Dr. Wilson, and Rev. James Wallace had worked on the NT and published it in 1857, and the Old Testament in 1860. This is very much the Bible in use today among the Protestant Church which is fondly known as Old Version (OV).
In the recent past, there have been two new publications, re-edited version of Gujarati Bible (OV) appearing in 2002 and the Bible in common language (CL) appearing in the year 2003.