Aneitumese, Version

Aneitumese, Version

of the Holy Scriptures. Aneiteum is one of the languages belonging to the Farther Polynesian group, and is a branch of the Papuan tongue. The island of Aneiteum, in which it is vernacular, is the most southward of the New Hebrides, and is thirty miles in circuit. The efforts made to diffuse a knowledge of the revealed Word of God among the people of Aneiteum are of recent date; and the following data furnished by the Rev. John Inglis, the editor and translator of the Aneitumese Bible, which we subjoin from the fifty-ninth annual report of the British and Foreign Bible Society (1863), will be of interest:

"In 1841 the first attempt was made to introduce Christianity into Aneiteum by locating native teachers from Samoa. In 1848 the Rev. J. Geddie, of the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia, commenced missionary operations in Aneiteum. During the first year, Mr. Geddie was assisted by the Rev. T. Powell, of the London Missionary Society, from Samoa. In 1852 I left New Zealand, where I had labored for the seven and a half previous years, and joined Mr. Geddie in Aneiteum. By that time Mr. Geddie had acquired a considerable knowledge of the language. He had printed several small books, such as a primer and a catechism, Scripture extracts, etc.; he had also a translation of Matthew in manuscript. Assisted by Mr. Geddie's vocabulary, and translations, and occasionally by his personal instructions, I lost no time in endeavoring to acquire a knowledge of the language. In 1848 the island was wholly heathen. In 1858 the whole population, with a few straggling exceptions, was professedly Christian.

"In the end of 1859, when the John Williams left the New Hebrides commencing her homeward voyage, the whole of the New Test. was translated, but it was not corrected; it was only in a rough form, requiring still to be carefully corrected and copied out for the press. Mr. Geddie and I proposed to devote a whole year, at least, conjointly to this work; but as the mission vessel was about to return to England, it was unanimously agreed by the missionaries that I should return home. accompanied by my wife and a native of Aneiteum, for the purpose of getting the translation printed. We reached London on June 30, 1860. In August, 1861, I had the whole corrected and copied out, so as to be able to present it to your Editorial Committee through the Rev. T. W. Meller. They accepted the translation. Subsequently, Mr. Meller went carefully over the whole and made many important suggestions. The printing was commenced in last January, and is now finished.

"For eleven and a half years Mr. Geddie devoted all his spare time to the preparation of this translation. For. the last seven and a half of these years I was associated with him in this work. Since I left the Islands, fully three years ago, including the seven months of the homeward voyage of the John Williams, I have been chiefly occupied in this work.

"Although fifteen years ago there was not a sentence of the Anelteum language reduced to writing, I am happy to think that this is both a faithful and idiomatic translation." The Old Test., having been published in parts from time to time, was finally carried through the press in 1878 at London by the Rev. J. Inglis. The announcement is thus made in the Bible Society Monthly Reporter, January, 1880:

"Another translation of the entire Bible is now ready. For the past two and a half years the Rev. J. Inglis, of the Free Church of Scotland Mission to the New Hebrides, has been in this country carrying the Old Test. through the press, the New Test. having been printed previously. Mr. Inglis brought over with him contributions raised' by the natives of the. small island, sufficient to pay the whole bill for printing. He expresses a just pride in the reflection that the people of Aneiteum should have paid in full for every copy of the Scriptures they have received; and he expresses his thankfulness that, with the counsel and assistance of the society's officers, the cost of the printing of the Old Test. is much less than he and his colleagues had anticipated." According to the seventy-seventh annual report of the British and Foreign Bible Society, 20,630 copies of parts of the Scriptures had been disposed of up to March 31, 1881. See Bible of Every Land, p. 392 sq. (B. P.)

 
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