Arabic Version

Arabic Version By way of supplement. we add that, prior to the year 1839, two printed versions of the Arabic Bible were known in Egypt and Syria. The one was the edition printed in Walton's Polyglot SEE POLYGLOT BIBLES, the other was the Biblia Sacra Arabica Sacre Congregationis de Propaganda Fide jussu edita, additis e regione Bibliis Latinis Vulgatis studio et labore Sergii Risii (Romae, 1671, 3 vols. fol.). But both were regarded, according to the personal observations in the East made by the Rev. C. Schlienz, the agent of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, " with rooted antipathy by the Mohammedans; the Polyglot chiefly for its presumptuous impiety in adopting the phraseology of the Koran and for its inequality of style; and that of the Propaganda for its vulgarity and inelegancy of language." In 1839 the preparation of a new Arabic version was commenced under the superintendence of the Rev. C. Schlienz. The first draft of the whole translation,, originally made by Mr. Fares (admitted to be one of the best native Arabic scholars of the day), was carried through the press in 1856. In the meantime the Rev. Dr. Eli Smith, one of the American missionaries in Syria, had commenced an, improved version of the Scriptures in the Arabic language; but this work he left unfinished, after years of laborious study and; consuming toil. His premature death was probably accelerated by the close and continuous' mental application with which he sought the completion of his great task. The translation was subsequently confided to the Rev. Dr. Van Dyck, in order to re-examine the parts already prepared, and to continue the work from the point at which it had been left by his predecessor. Dr. Van Dyck possessed undoubted qualifications for this responsible duty, as a competent and accurate translator having a thorough knowledge of the Arabic language. With immense pains, inflexible perseverance, 'and unflagging energy, he applied himself to his editorial labors till the entire Bible was finished, and a translation was furnished which, in point of idiomatic exactness, fidelity to the originals, and general excellence, may well satisfy the most fastidious scholars. When it is considered that the Arabic language is spoken by more than one hundred millions of the human race, it would be difficult to exaggerate the value and influence of the great undertaking which had reached its final stage in the year 1865. The text was completed at press in New York in 1867 under the title El-Kitab el-Mugaddes. The superiority of this translation being recognised everywhere, the British and Foreign Bible Society were induced to adopt it for their own use, and shared in the expense of printing with the American Bible Society. Since 1870 this version has been published with a vowelled text, the work also of the Rev. Dr. Van Dyck. (B. P.)

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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