Telugu Bible Translations

Beginning of Bible Translation

The earliest publication in Telugu of any part of the Bible was in 1812; but long before that the Scriptures had been translated.  Benjamin Schultze had finished a translation of the New Testament in Telugu by 1727, and had apparently done the same for the Old Testament by 1732, but these were never printed; the manuscripts were apparently sent by him to Halle and were there mislaid or forgotten.  Captain James Dodds, a Scotsman and an officer in the East India Company's service was engaged in translating part of the Scriptures into Telugu, but Dodds was soon dead.  Serampore missionaries had made a beginning with Telugu in 1805 and completed the New Testament in 1811.  Printing was in progress, but the great fire in the press in 1812 destroyed not only the type and the printed sheets, but the manuscript as well.  The work had to be done again, and the New Testament was published in 1818, the Pentateuch coming out three years later.  Telugu, however, is one of the languages in which the main line of translation started elsewhere than in Serampore.  In 1804, the London Missionary Society sent out two missionaries, George Cran and Augustus Desgranges, who were stationed at Vizagapatam.  Cran died in 1808 and Desgranges was left to carry on the work.  He translated direct from the Greek, and was assisted by a Brahmin convert, Ananda Rayar, who translated from the Tamil version.  In 1810 Desgranges died, and in 1812 the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John were ready for the press.  Edward Pritchett, missionary of the L.M.S., reached Vizagapatam in 1812 and the New Testament translated by him was published in 1818.  Pritchett died in 1824 and Gordon in 1828, but each of them also translated much of the Old Testament.  In 1844 a translation committee was appointed, and considerable changes in their manuscript versions.  The greater part of the work was done by L.M.S. missionaries, R.D. Johnston and J.W. Gordon – a son of J. Gordon – and in 1854 the Old Testament was issued, a revised edition appearing in 1857.  The Madras Auxiliary issued the complete Bible in 1860. 

Present state and/or future of Bible translation in the language:  A new translations in common language has been in progress.  In another 2 years' time this version will be made available.

Total population:  66,017,615
Literacy:  60.47%

Language classification:  Telugu language is spoken in the Andhra Pradesh state.  It is a Dravidian language.  Telugu script which is almost identical with that of Kannada is known to have taken shape by 1,000 A.D., from Pahlava script of the 7th Century A.D. which was derived from old Brahmi script used in writing Telugu. 

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