Brief History Of Malayalam Bible

Language classification Malayalam language is spoken in Kerala state. It is a Dravidian language. In writing Malayalam, Malayalam alphabets known as 'arya eruttu' (introduced in 17th century) are used. Hinduism is the main religion. Christians are a minority. 
Total population:  30,377,176
Literacy 100%

Beginning of Bible translation: Bible translation work in Malayalam is of unique interest, in that this is the language of the Syrian Christians, and the first urgent call for Scriptures was not, as elsewhere in India, that they might be made available for the great masses of the non-Christian population, but that Christians themselves might have the Bible. Something has been said in the introductory chapter about the ancient Syrian Church in Travancore, with its reputed origin in the apostolic ministry of St Thomas and its undoubted continuity in south-western India from the early centuries of the Christian era, of its liturgy and the old Syriac Bible, dating probably from the twelfth century, which is now in the Cambridge University Library. By 1807, the four Gospels had been completed, the translation being made from the Syriac, with some help from Fabricius' Tamil version, by Timapah Pillay and a priest, Philippos. Timapah Pillay went to Bombay, where a fount of Malayalam type had been cast, and supervised the printing. The book was published in 1811, the British and Foreign Bible Society providing the paper. Successive British residents at Travancore took a deep interest in the work, first Colonel Colin Macaulay, and then Major John Munro, who had been the means of establishing a college at Kottayam. Timapah Pillay had translated the whole New Testament from the Tamil by 1813, but there were difficulties about revising it and publication was delayed. 

In 1817 it was resolved to translate the whole Bible and print it at Kottayam. The C.M.S. lent their missionary, Benjamin Bailay, for this work, and he was to be assisted by eight Syrian priests; they were to be paid by the Bible Society and generally supervised by Major Munro, who said that, if no other means could be devised, he would support them himself. The Calcutta Auxiliary was also considering another New Testament translation from the Vulgate, under Roman Catholic superintendence, though the vicar-general did not object to the translation already made. The Madras Auxiliary Bible Society published his translation of the New Testament in 1829. It was not in the purer Malayalam; Bailey became busy with the Old Testament and completed it. A committee revised the texts and the Madras Auxiliary published Bailey's translation as it stood, the complete Old Testament appearing in 1841. Dr. H. Gundert of the Basel Evangelical Lutheran Mission at Tellicherry and his scholarship had left a lasting impression on all subsequent versions in this language. His grammar of Malayalam (1868) and Malayalam-English dictionary not only displaced earlier tentative efforts, but they are still regarded as standard works. Revised edition of Bailey's Old Testament was issued in 1859.

Present state and/or future of Bible translation in the language: A re-edited version of the Malayalam Bible was published in 2004. Common Language translation has been completed and typesetting process is underway. It is likely to be published during 2012-13.

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