J A Shurman ~ Bible Translator ("Benares Version")

Hindustani Bible Translations

1863 | Summary.

Summary on the Hindustani/Urdu Bible translations in Northern India.

This language is not confined to any particular province, but like French on the continent of Europe, is a general medium of intercourse in all parts of India. On the conquest of India by the Mahommedans, they adopted the prevailing dialect in Northern India, but greatly altered it by the introduction of other words. This language was called Urdu or the camp language, and is also called Hindustani from the region through which it came. It is spoken in different provinces with various local peculiarities of idiom. The dialect of Hindustani, current in the Madras presidency is called Dakhani. A variety of Hindustani is a species of jargon called Moors, spoken by the servants of Europeans in Calcutta and Bombay.

The first translation of the Scriptures into Hindustani was made by Schultze, a Danish Missionary He translated the New and part of the Old Testament which were published at Halle, from 1748 to 1758. In 1804 a translation of the Gospels was published at the College of Fort William, Calcutta.

The most important translation is that made by Henry Martyn. He completed the entire New Testament, in 1808.  A great fire occurred at Serampore which destroyed all the Scriptures that had been printed except the first thirteen chapters of St. Matthew's Gospel, and the types. But in a few months new types were prepared, and the work was printed in 1814, and 2000 copies of the Testament and 3000 of the Gospels were published, at the expense of the British and Foreign Bible Society.

An edition was published, in 1817, in the Devanagari character for the benefit of Hindoos in the upper provinces of India, who can read and write in this character.

The translation of the Old Testament had been nearly completed before the death of Mr. Martyn by his assistant Mirza Fitrut. The Book of Genesis was printed in London in 1819 by the B & F Bible Society, under the care of Dr Lee.

In 1819 the Calcutta Committee of the Bible Society determined to revise the whole version, which was undertaken by Rev. Messrs. Thomason and Corrie. The Pentateuch was published in 1823. The revision of the Old Testament was continued by Mr. Thomason till his illness and death when it was undertaken by the Missionaries at Benares. In 1844 it was completed in Arabic and Roman Characters. In 1839 the Calcutta Committee published the New Testament in Roman characters, and the English and Hindustani in the same characters arranged in opposite columns.

In 1842 a revision of the New Testament was published by the joint labours of the London and Church Missionary Societies, and in the same year another version, prepared by Mr. Buyers and other Missionaries at Benares, was printed. This version was chosen to accompany the translation of the Old Testament in Roman characters, but on revising it, Mr. Shurman saw reasons to revert, in a great measure, to the translation of Henry Martyn, especially in the latter half of the version. It was published in 1844.

At Madras in I860, a Committee was appointed to revise the Calcutta Hindustani Bibles, with a view to adapting it to the Dakhni dialect. The Book of Genesis was circulated, and was well received by the Mohammedans at Madras.


Published in:
The harmony of the Gospels In the Words of the Authorized Version. With an account of ancient Manuscripts and of the Various Translations of the Holy Scriptures. London. 1863. Page(s): 476-477.

For reference:

Administrator. J A Shurman ~ Bible Translator ("Benares Version") :: Hindustani Bible Translations, in: Pirltawardli Research Website. Adelaide 2020.
(Created: 19.01.2015. Last updated: 23.03.2016.)
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