Marathi Version of the Scriptures

Marathi Version Of The Scriptures The Marathi, which is spoken by the Marathas or Mahrattas (q.v.), may be regarded as a link between the Sanscrit, dialects of northern India and the languages of the Deccan. Some of the words and idioms are obviously of cognate origin with the Bengalee, while in others a notable approximation may be detected to the Tamil, Telinga, and the other languages of the South. Two different characters are used in writing Marathi, the Modior Modhe, a kind of running hand, which is derived from, and still retains a strong resemblance to the Devanagari (or Sanscrit character), and the Balboodh or Balborah, which appears to be almost, if not quite, the Devanagari itself. The former, vulgarly termed Modi, is most generally understood, being employed in all transactions of business; but the latter is preferred for printing, because it possesses several letters in which the Modi is deficient; it is, besides, uniform and regular in appearance, while the Modi varies as much in style as the handwriting of different individuals in Europe.

A version of the Scriptures in Marathi was commenced at Serampore in 1804. The first few copies of the gospel of Matthew were printed in the Devanagari character, but this character was soon replaced by the Modi, as the more generally intelligible to the natives. This latter character was employed in all the subsequent Serampore editions. In 1811 the New Test. was completed, and in 1820 the Old Test. left the press. A second and revised edition of the New Test. appeared about the year 1825.

Another version of the Marathli Scriptures was commenced in 1817 by American missionaries, and in 1826 the entire New Test. was published by them, with the aid of the Bombay Auxiliary and the British and Foreign Bible Society. An improved and carefully revised edition of this Test. was printed in 1830. In 1834 the Bombay Bible Society undertook another revisal of the Marathi New Test. and determined upon issuing an edition in the Balboodh character. The printing of this edition was commenced in 1835, but in the same year it was found necessary to print a separate edition of the gospels in the Modi, or current character, for the use of the lower class of natives.

While these editions of the New Test. were in course of preparation, the American missionaries, together with the Reverend J. Dixon of the Churoh mission at Nassuck, zealously prosecuted the translation of the Old Test. into Marathi, which was completed at the American mission press in 1855.

Mr. Dixon, by whom the greater part of this important version was made, did not live to see the completion of this edition at press. From the report of the British and Foreign Bible Society for 1863 we learn that the entire Bible has been revised, published, and put into circulation. In the report for 1881 it is stated that the revision of the entire Bible has again been inaugurated, with the assistance of Reverend Baba Padmanji. The revision work is still in progress. See Bible of Every Land, page 126.

For linguistic purposes see Ballantyne, A Grammar of the Mahratta Language;, Bellairs, A Grammar of the Marathi Language; Molesworth, A Dictionary, Marathi and English (Bombay, 1857); Padmanji, A Compendium of Molesworth's Marathi and English Dictionay; Navalkar, The Student's Marathi Grammar (new ed. Bombay, 1879). (B.P.)

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