Sanscrit Versions

Sanscrit Versions.

A translation of the New Test. into the Sanscrit, the ancient and classical language of India, was commenced in the year 1803 and finished at the press in 1808. The man who had immortalized his name by this translation was the well-known Dr. Carey (q.v.). He had also commenced a translation of the Old Test., when the disastrous fire at Serampore in 1812 interrupted his labors, destroying not only a dictionary of the Sanscrit and various Indian dialects, but also his MSS. of the second book of Samuel and the first book of Kings. In 1815 Dr. Carey received an associate in Dr. Yates, and both carried on the work of translating the Old Test., which was finally completed in 1822. In 1820 a second edition of the New Test. was undertaken at Serampore, the former edition, consisting of only 600 copies, having been completely exhausted. In 1827 a second edition of the Old Test. was in press, but various circumstances retarded its completion, and in 1834 the impression had been struck off only as far as the first book of Kings. As the first attempt of translating could only be defective, especially when undertaken at a period when the language had been little studied by Europeans, and no printed copies of the standard works were in existence, a statement as to the desirableness of a new and a more polished translation was laid before the committee of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge in 1835. The committee entered into communication on the subject with the bishop of Calcutta, and the new translation was undertaken by Dr. Yates, formerly the associate of Dr. Carey, upon whom the mantle of the venerable translator seemed to have fallen. Dr. Yates began the work in 1840 by the publication of the Psalms; in 1844 the Gospels were completed; and in 1846 the Proverbs and the New Test. were in the press. While prosecuting his work, Dr. Yates was overtaken by death in 1845. On examining the state of the version, it was found that the books of Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah had all passed through the press, and that the rest of the Pentateuch, and the books of Job, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, and Daniel, had been prepared in MS. The work was now committed to the Rev. Mr. Wenger, the translator into the Bengalee, and in 1852 the second volume of the Old Test., containing the historical books from Judges to Esther inclusive, was completed. In 1858 a third volume, bringing the translation up to the Song of Solomon, was finished; in 1863 the translation was continued as far as the end of Isaiah; and in 1873 the translation of the whole Bible was announced as completed. Besides the translation into Sanscrit proper, there exist versions into

(a.) Sanscrit-Bengalee, i.e. reprints from the Sanscrit in Bengalee character — viz. Genesis (first published in 1855; 2d. ed. 1860), Psalms (1857), Proverbs (1855), St. Luke (1855).

(b.) Sanscrit-Deva Nagari. With regard to the Deva Nagari character, the Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society for 1877 states that "the Calcutta University has largely of late years so popularized this language and character that it has been thought desirable to print not only the book of Psalms, but also the book of Proverbs and the New Test." Only the Psalms have as yet been printed.

(c.) Sanscrit-Oriya. In this character the same parts as under (a) have been published.

See the Bible of Every Land, p. 86, and the Annual Reports of the Brit. and For. Bible Society. (B.P.)

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