|The Kerala Auxiliary and the Malayalam Bible- A brief overview
Kerala is home to the ancient Church that traces its roots to the Apostle Thomas who is believed to have preached the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Malabar Coast in the first century AD. The scripture of the church in Kerala from the early centuries was the Syriac Bible, which was used in the context of corporate worship and spiritual instruction. The organised efforts at Malayalam translation began with the visit of the British East India Company Chaplain Rev. Claudius Buchanan to the churches of Travancore and Cochin in the year 1906 which convinced him of the need of a translation in local language. Buchanan presented the matter before the Metropolitan of the Syrian Church Mar Dionysius, who enthusiastically took up the task and entrusted the translation work to a team led by the Syrian priest Kayamkulam Philipose Ramban. The translation was completed in 1807 and was finally printed from Bombay in 1811, with the paper supplied by British and Foreign Bible Society. This is the pioneering translation of the Bible into Malayam language and is known as the ‘Ramban Bible.’ The translation efforts for the complete Bible acquired significant momentum with the arrival of CMS missionary Rev. Benjamin Bailey to Kottayam in 1817, who with the support of the Bible Society embarked upon a fresh translation of the Bible. Bailey completely committed himself to the arduous task of translation, and St. Matthew’s Gospel was published in 1824, the New Testament in 1829 and the whole Bible in 1841- all printed at Kottayam CMS Press, designed and fabricated by Bailey himself. In the meanwhile the Basel Missionary to Malabar and the renowned lexicographer and the author of the first Malayalam dictionary, Dr. Hermann Gundert translated and published the New Testament in 1854 and portions of the Old Testament in 1859, more suited to the linguistic environment of North Malabar. Owing to the differences in dialects between the princely states of Travancore, Cochin and Malabar, the need was felt for a common translation acceptable for the entire Malayalam speakers. Thus in 1871 a common translations committee was formed by the Bible Society with representation of all major churches. After decades of painstaking work the Sathaya Veda Pusthakam (Holy Bible) was published by the Bible Society in 1910 in the heart-language of the people of Kerala.
Kerala Auxiliary was inaugurated on 30th June 1956 with the motto, “A Bible for every Christian home in Kerala,” with its headquarters at Kottayam, the place where the first book in Malayalam -St Matthew’s gospel- was printed. Prior to this, the activities of the Bible Society in Kerala was carried out through the Madras Auxiliary. The first president of the Auxiliary was the bishop of CSI, Rt. Rev. C.K. Jacob, and the first secretary Rev. Thomas Cherian. The Bible House, the three storied building of the of the Auxiliary in the heart of Kottayam town was completed in 1971 which houses the Auxiliary offices, Bible showroom, the Warehouse, Auxiliary Secretary’s residence and Conference Hall. It serves as the hub for scripture distribution for the whole state of Kerala.
The Auxiliary has always served the church in Kerala in its needs of Scriptures and in gospel outreach, and had been an effective platform for common witness bringing together the leaders and the believers across diverse faith traditions. It functions through the 139 branches across the length and breadth of the state, which serve as effective spaces for spiritual fellowship, outreach and resource mobilisation for the Bible cause. The branches have been grouped into 27 geographical regions/districts and placed in charge of coordinators for effective functioning. The Auxiliary Committee is a 29 member body, with representatives from 11 major denominations . At present, Rt. Rev. Joseph Mar Barnabas Episcopa of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church provides leadership as the Auxiliary President.
The 175th anniversary of the printing of St Matthew’s Gospel was celebrated in 1999. The Bicentennial celebrations of the Malayalam Bible and the Centennial celebrations of the Sathya Veda Pusthakam was together conducted in a magnificent manner in 2011 at Kottayam with the cooperation of all churches, which marked a significant milestone in the progress of the Auxiliary. The release of the Bicentenary Bible was the high point of the blessed occasion.
Innovative projects like ‘Vision 2000’, ‘Bibles to Russia with Love,’ ‘Life Protection Rally,’ and sponsorship of Scriptures to the persecuted churches in Gujarat and Odisha have been taken up by the Auxiliary in the past. It has also taken up Scripture Engagement programs focused on the youth, women and other vulnerable sections of the society, thus addressing the concerns of the larger secular social space. It is also worth noting that in the year 2012 through the committed efforts of the Malappuram region of BSI, the Bible Bhavan, a center for the programs and activities of Bible Society was constructed in a 50 cent plot at Palunda, near Chugathara, donated to IBSTA for the purpose by Mr. George Philip Kalarickal.
Based on the increasing and diverse needs of Scriptures, the auxiliary has published more than 60 varieties of Malayalam Bibles, that has proved immensely beneficial to different age groups and special audiences. The recently published Slim Bible and Bilingual (English-Malayalam) Bible has received wide acceptance. The Malayalam Common Language Bible, the result of two decades of work, was brought out in 2014 and is gaining currency. It is a refreshingly new experience of reading the scripture text in the contemporary style and vocabulary, and is well appreciated. The Central Column Reference New Testament and Malayalam Bible CD ROM was released in 2015. The latest addition to this Scripture array is the Malayalam Classic Plus (Concordance and Red Letter) Bible which was released in February 2016. The work on the complete Central Column Reference Bible and Digital Bible Library Project is progressing.
|Major Mile Stones of Kerala Auxiliary in the publishing of Bibles
1994 - Value Added Bible.
1998 – Pocket edition Bible
2000 – Senior Citizens Bible
2001 - Children’s Bible and Young Children’s Bible
2002 – New Font Bible
2004 – Re-Edited Bible
2006 – Study Bible
2008 – Red Letter Bible
2010 – Crown size Bible
2011 – Bi- Centenary Bible
2012 – English – Malayalam Bible
2013 – Ultra Slim Bible
2014 – Common Language Bible
2015 – Central Column Reference New Testament
2015 - Bible CD-ROM
2016 – Classic Plus (Concordance and Red Letter Bible)
If you are interested in procuring Bible and other Scripture items in Print and Audio media, please contact :
The Auxiliary Secretary
Bible Society of India
Kottayam 686 001
Ph : 0481 2562103
E-mail : email@example.com