Fijian Version of the Scriptures

Fijian Version Of The Scriptures This language is spoken in the Fiji islands (q.v.). The principal dialect is that of Ban, and a translation of the New Test. was made into this idiom by the late Reverend J. Hunt, in concert with other Wesleyan missionaries. The work was completed in 1849. In 1854 the British and Foreign Bible Society printed an edition of five thousand Fijian New Tests., and in 1858 the same society issued an edition of five thousand gospels. In the meantime the missionaries employed in the Fiji Islands were diligently engaged in the translation of the Old Test., which they completed in 1854. The printing of the work was commenced in England under the joint supervision of the Reverend Mr. Calvert, a long resident in the islands, and the editorial superintendent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, in the year 1857. As Mr. Calvert, however, was compelled to return to his. missionary station, the work was left in an unfinished state. The printing was consequently suspended, and a new editor was appointed by the Wesleyan Missionary Society, to whom the examination of the unfinished part of the text was confided, in order that such revision might be introduced as was necessary to secure harmony in grammatical construction and orthography. The Reverend H.B. Lyth having been selected for this important duty, finished the work in 1864, and the conmittee of the British and Foreign Bible Society announced to its supporters in the report for 1865 the completion of the entire Bible in the language of Fiji, a work upon the preparation of which a vast amount of care and anxious study had been expended. The following account of the reception of the Scriptures in Fiji, soon after their arrival, will be read with interest:

"How the natives rejoiced at the sight of the complete Bible! When I told them that the vessel was in with the Bibles on board, they wanted me to start off at once to fetch them. On receiving them, being greatly excited myself, I walked through Ban with a copy. I took it to the school, and to the king's house, followed by a troop of youngsters, who shouted as we went along, 'Here is the Bible complete-look at it, look at it!' On showing the copy to the king, he asked if we had plenty. I told him we had sufficient for all the preachers in Fiji. 'But,' said he, 'what about us chiefs who can read, and wish to have the whole book: can we not get a copy?' He was satisfied when I told him he should have one." (Report for 1866.)

The extensive circulation of the Fijian Scriptures made it necessary to print, in 1866, two editions of the New Test., consisting together of six thousand five hundred copies, and in 1870 another supply of three thousand copies. A revised edition of the Fijian Bible was published by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1883. According to the annual report of this society, there were circulated up to March 31, 1884, fifty-five thousand and eight parts of the Bible. For linguistic helps, see Hazlewood, A Compendious Grammar of the Feejeean Language, and his Feejeean and English and English and Feejeean Dictionary. (B.P.)

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