Missionary Johann A Schürmann (1809-1852)

J A Shurman ~ Publications

In his time as a missionary-linguist at the Benares mission station, JAS published a number of books and bible translations, or was involved in translating and editing of previous versions together with fellow missionaries. 

The following overview may be inconsistent due to different sources quoted here.  According to <worldcat.org>, Shurmann has authored or co-authored eight works in eleven publications in two languages [English and Urdu], some of which are known to be held by eight international libraries.  However, despite working at Benares Mission for almost twenty years before his death in 1852, "his name hardly ever figured in mission records."1 ]

A listing of Urdu Bible translations between 1805 and 1863 can be found here, and a general overview by the Bible Society of India here.

  • 1836
    Translation of New Testament, published 1839 [JAS-A, page 2]
  • 27. March 1837
    Gospel Matthew translated2 ]
  • 1839
    The New Testament, in Hindustani, by William Buyers and J. A. Shurman, of the London Missionary Society, Benares. 1839.
    • Alternative bibliography by SOAS:
      London Missionary Society. Benares Mission., 1839. Khudawand Isa Masih ki Injil = The New Testament, in Urdu / translated from the Greek by the missionaries of the London Missionary Society at Banaras. Calcutta: printed at the Baptist Mission Press.
    "This translation, or rather revision, of the New Testament in Hindustani, was in a style designed for the lower orders. It was printed both in the Persic and the Roman characters."3 ]
  • 1839
    Fitrat, Mirza M, Daniel Corrie, Thomas Thomason, and J A. Shurman. The Old Testament Translated from the Original Hebrew into the Hindoosthani Language: Vol. I. Serampore: Calcutta Auxiliary Bible Society, 1829. Print. 4 ]
  • 1842
    Bible. O.T. Hindustani
    . 1842. [three lines in Arabic, then] The Holy Bible in the Hindustani language. Calcutta : Auxiliary Bible Society, 1842-1843. 8vo.  2 vols.  Vol. I ONLY:  988 pp.5 ]
  • 1842
    Buyers, William, and J A. Shurman. Hamáre Ḳhudáwand Ísá Masíh Kí Injíl Yáne Ḳhushḳhabarí : The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in Hindústa’ni’. London: W. M’Dowall, 1842. Print. 6 ]
  • 1843
    Martyn, Henry, Mirza Muhammad Fitrat, J. A Shurman, and Calcutta Auxiliary Bible Society. Kit’ab ul quds Pura’na aur Naya’ Ahdna’ma : yaane Tauret, Zabu’r, Nubu’wat aur Injil. Tarjuma asal zaba’non se zaba’n i hindi’ men. [The Holy Bible in the Hindustani’ language. Vol. II, Job-Malachi.] Calcutta: Auxiliary Bible Society, 1843.7 ]
  • 1843

    William Buyers, J. A. Shurman, and James Kennedy (London Missionary Society). The Old and New Testaments [in Hindustani]. Benares, 1843.8 ]

  • 1850
    Shurman, J. A. The proper names in the Old and New Testaments, rendered into Urdú and Hindí. pp. iv. 102. Allahabad, 1850.– Appendix to: BIBLE. Old Testament (New Testament) in Urdu with references.  2 pt. British and Foreign Bible Society : London, Hertford [printed] 1887. 4°.9 ]
  • 1851
    Tarikh mutaqaddimin a mutaakhkhirin ki - Cover
    John Adam Shurman. 1851. Tarikh mutaqaddimin a mutaakhkhirin ki
    [A compendium of ancient and modern history, in the Roman character.]
    (Photo: Jan Schürmann, Bissendorf, 2007)

    Shurman, J. A. Tarikh mutaqaddimin a mutaakhkhirin ki [A compendium of ancient and modern history, in the Roman character.] Partt.1i. pp. 124. Presbyterian Mission Press, for the Benares School Book Society.  Allahabad, 1851. 124 pages 8″.10 ]

    This title is also listed under the category “School books” in Urdú-Roman in a summary about the application of the Roman alphabet for the languages of India.11 ] 
    The Calcutta School-Book Society reports in its General Meeting on March 13, 1852:

    16. A valuable addition has been made to the Society's publications, of a work in Urdu, on General History, written by the Rev. J.A. Shurman of Benares. An edition was printed in the Roman character by the Benares School-Book Society; but it being deemed desirable to publish one in the native character also, and the Benares Society not having sufficient funds, they requested the Committee of the Calcutta Society to print an edition, and to let them have at cost price 1000 copies; at the same time giving the Committee permission to print for themselves as many as they might choose in the present edition, and to reprint the work whenever occasion might call for it. The proposal was gladly accepted, as it gave to the Committee an opportunity of assisting a kindred institution, and opened a wider range for the circulation of a useful book. The printing of the volume is about half completed. The author says, "If this first volume find favour in the eyes of the friends of native education, and of the natives themselves, I will without delay write a second volume, which will contain Ctesias's and Arrian's account of ancient India in full."
    And in its meeting on March 12, 1853:
    3. The first volume of the work in Urdu, on General History, particulars of which were given in the last Report, has been completed: an edition of 2,000 copies was printed, one moiety of which was taken at cost price by the Benares School Book Society. The Committee regret to say, that the decease of the author, the Rev. J.A. Shurman of Benares, has disappointed their hope of publishing the second volume, which had been promised.12 ]

  • 1852
    Tārīk̲h̲ Mutaqaddimīn O Mutaʻak̲h̲k̲h̲irīn Kī. Calcutta: The Calcutta School-Book Society’s Press, 1852. Print. 13 ]
  1. Semple, Rhonda Anne. 2003. Missionary Women: Gender, Professionalism, and the Victorian Idea of Christian Mission. Woodbridge, Suffolk. Page 93 [ ▲ ]
  2. Rex Schurmann, Research notes on John Adam Shurman [ ▲ ]
  3. Rep. Miss. Soc. 1839, p. 46. -- Orient. Christ. Speot. vol. x. p. 111. -- quoted from: Brown, William. 1854. History of the Propagation of Christianity Among the Heathen Since the Reformation. Vol. 3. Reprint. London: Forgotten Books, 2013. 518-9. Print. [ ▲ ]
  4. Bibliographic details <worldcat.org>. — Shurman was involved with revising a later edition. [ ▲ ]
  5. The Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Company, Philadelphia:  Baptist Browsing / Bibles, n.D., Page 6.  Online. -- This sales entry has the following comments:
    US$ 750.00.  In Arabic script. Translated by Mirza Muhammad Fitrat, revised by Thomas Thomason and Daniel Corrie in 1829, and revised for this edition by J.A. Shurman and others.  Present here are Genesis to Esther; vol. 2 containing Job to Malachi was published in 1843.  Provenance:  Copy belonging first to S.S. Day (with his signature), a Baptist missionary to the Telugu during the period 1835–1853.  Later his gift to the library of Madison University, later renamed Colgate University. ’ Darlow & Moule 5293.  Publisher's cloth with paper spine label.  Small area of discoloration at base of spine where call number was and was later blacked over.  Covers discolored.  Ex-library with bookplates but no stamps. (20097). [ ▲ ]
  6. Bibliographic Details <worldcat.org>, with libraries in the UK [Worldcat.org], in Germany [Worldcat.org] [ ▲ ]
  7. Bibliographic details <worldcat.org>. [ ▲ ]
  8. Brown, William. History of the Propagation of Christianity Among the Heathen Since the Reformation. Vol. 3. 1854. Reprint. London: Forgotten Books, 2013. 518-9. Print. --
    Apparently, this work includes the revision of the following work:
    The New Testament, in Hindostanee, translated by Mirza Fitrut, under the superintendence of the Rev. Henry Martyn. Serampur, 1814. (Rep. Bib. Soc. 1812, p. 13, App. p. 75; Ibid. 1815, App. p. 145.), with this comment:

    Martyn's Hindustani translation was very highly spoken of. A revision of it by a committee at Benares was published many years afterwards, which, however, was as much entitled as some others to be considered an independent translation. Another revision was made of it by Mr Shurman, one of the missionaries of the London Society at Benares, which, as we shall immediately state, was printed along with the Old Testament, by the Calcutta Bible Society. (Cal. Christ. Obs. vol. XV. p. 671.)


    The following description of the main work has been included with this entry:

    This work was partly a revision of former translations, and partly an original version. (Rep. Miss. Soc. 1844, p. 12.) The books of the Old Testament, prepared by Mr Thomason, were slightly revised, and the remaining books were translated in a similar style. J. A. F. Hawkins, Esq., of Calcutta, who is spoken of as a distinguished Hindustani scholar, not only carefully examined and revised the versions and revisions of the missionaries, but he himself translated the minor prophets, Lamentations, the greater part of Daniel, and a number of chapters of Ezekiel. In the course of the revision of the New Testament, Mr Shurman saw reason to revert, in a great measure, to Martyn's translation, especially in the latter half of the work. Editions of the whole Bible were printed both in the Arabic and the Roman characters, and of particular books in the Persic character. (Cal. Christian Obser. vol. xv. p. 835; vol. xvi. p. 8.; Rep. Bib. Soc. 1834, p, 96.)

    In Mr Buyers excellent letters on India, published in 1840, before the last mentioned version was made, we have some explanation of the imperfection of the early translations into Hindustani and others of the languages of India, The first missionaries "such as the Serampur brethren and Henry Martyn" found the vernacular languages in a rude, unformed state, without any literature of sufficient consequence to form a standard of writing. The learning of the Hindus was monopolized by the Brahmans, and placed beyond vulgar reach, in the impenetrable recesses of the Sanskrit; while that of the Mussulmans, though not in the hands of a separate class, was almost equally inaccessible to the mass of the people, by being confined to the Arabic and Persian. The vernacular languages were scarcely reduced to writing, as all the business, and even the correspondence of the country, was carried on in one or other of these learned languages. The only books were merely popular songs, and a few poems; but even these could scarcely be said to be in the vernacular languages, as they were always in a sort of poetic dialect, or rather a mixture of all the dialects. In the Urdu, or Hindustani, or, it may be called the Indo-Persian, which is used by the Mussulmans, and forms, in fact, the lingua franca of all India, there are scarcely any works but those prepared under the patronage of Europeans.
    The earlier students of the language had nothing to guide them in forming a style adapted to the people; and, as the whole was in a state of transition, it was exceedingly difficult to find out what words were, or were not, admissible into the [...?].  The natural consequence of these difficulties was, that the first attempts at translation were made very much in the dark. Their authors took either the learned languages, Arabic, Persic, or Sanskrit, as their standard, and hence they composed in a style much above the comprehension of the body of the people; or they aimed at no standard but the common conversation of those around them, and hence fell into a low and vulgar style, peculiar, perhaps, to one district. Such a style the educated classes, who could scarcely be brought to read anything in the vernacular dialect under any circumstances, very naturally looked upon with perfect contempt.
    Martyn's Hindustani New Testament, and most of the Old, by Thomason, are the chief of the high style school; and Dr Carey's may be ranked as the head of the low or vulgar class. Dr Carey did not know much of the language himself, as far as appears from any of big attempts in it; and his native assistants, in translating, seem only to have known Hindustani as spoken by the lower orders, and that in a particular district. In fact, his translation is below mediocrity, being as to language, a mere bazaar jargon, of which no educated man could read a chapter without disgust. Martyn's work is of a far higher order than Carey's, and with no doubt be regarded as the basis of all future Hindustani versions.
    Considering the time at which it was made, and the difficulties which the author had to overcome, perhaps his translation may be thought quite as good as could have reasonably been expected. Still, however, it is intelligible only to those who understand Persic. If read to any mere Hindustani congregation, they could not understand it without note or comment. Even the construction of the sentences is often not Indian, but Persic or Arabic. With all its faults, however, it is the only version that has hitherto been in considerable use, and it also forms, to a great extent, the groundwork of the new versions."
    The translation of a considerable part of the Old Testament made by, or under the superintendence of, the Rev. Mr Thomason, has all the defects of Martyn's New Testament, without some of its redeeming qualities. In short, the Old Testament requires a complete revision in those parts which are purely historical. The Psalms are but miserably executed, and so are the Proverbs, and one or two morebooks; but of nearly all the prophets a complete new version is necessary." (Buyers' Letters on India, p. 88).
    With respect to the Hindustani translations by Dr Tates of Calcutta, and by the missionaries of the London Society at Benares, we are only able to state that both were made on the medium principle as to language, being neither so high as some of the preceding attempts, nor so low as others. (Ibid. p. 92).

    Bibliographic details <worldcat.org>, with these notes:
    "In Romanised Urdu. D & M have: The first complete Urdu Bible, often referred to as the 'Benares Version.' The OT [mainly] a revision by J.A. Shurman and others of Mirza Fitrat's original work. The NT a revision by Shurman et al which "reverted in great measure to the translation Henry Martyn."  Description:  988, 306 pages ; 22 cm. [My emphasis.] [ ▲ ]
  9. British Museum. Dept. of Oriental Printed Books and Manuscripts, and James Fuller Blumhardt. Catalogue of Hindustani printed books in the library of the British museum. London: Longmans & Co. [etc.], 1889. Column 317.  Bibliographic details <worldcat.org>. [ ▲ ]
  10. ditto, Column 359;  bibliographic details and libraries in [worldcat.org], [SOAS]. [ ▲ ]
  11. Letter from the Rev. R. C. Mather to Sir Charles Trevelyan, showing the Progress made in applying the Roman Letters to the Languages of India up to the Commencement of the Great Mutiniy in 1857.  In: Monier-Williams, Sir Monier. Original Papers Illustrating the History of the Application of the Roman Alphabet to the Languages of India. Asian Educational Services, 2003. Pages 202-209, here 205-207. (Online Archive.org). [ ▲ ]
  12. Calcutta School-Book Society. The Thirteenth Report of the Proceedings. 1840-1844. Calcutta: School-Book Society. 1845. Report 15/1852, Page 11; Report 16/1853, Page 3. [Google Books]. [ ▲ ]
  13. Bibliographic details [worldcat.org]. — This is either part 2 or a different edition of part 1. [ ▲ ]

For reference:

Administrator. Missionary Johann A Schürmann (1809-1852) :: J A Shurman ~ Publications, in: Pirltawardli Research Website. Adelaide 2019.
(Created: 15.01.2015. Last updated: 14.02.2016.)
Direct URL: <www.grweb.org/cpo-pirltawardli/en/detail.php?rubric=other_ShurmannJA&nr=703>. Viewed 17.10.2019.