Singhalese Version

Singhalese Version.

This version intended for the inhabitants of the southern part of Ceylon, from Batticaloa on the east to the river Chilaw on the west, and for those of the interior was first made when Ceylon was in the possession of the Dutch. In 1737 the Dutch governor, Van Imhoff, established a printing press at Colombo, with the view of disseminating Christian knowledge among the natives. In 1739 an edition of the four gospels in Singhalese was completed at this press, under the care of the Rev. J. P. Wetzel, a minister at Colombo. The translation was prepared from the original Greek by the Rev. W. Konym, and was published under the title Het Heylige Evangelium onses Heeren en Zaligmakers Jesu Christi na de Beschryvinge van de Marmen Gods en H. Evangelisten Mattheus, Marcus, Lucas, en Johannes, uyt het Oorspronkelyke Grieks in de Singaleese Tale Overgebracht, etc. A revised and corrected edition was published in 1780 by the Revs. Fybrands and Philipsz, who also superintended an edition of the Acts printed in 1771, and published under the title De Handelingen der Apostelen Beschreven door den Evangelist Lucas. For this part of the New Test. two learned Singhalese natives were engaged, who prosecuted their translation under the direction of the Rev. S. Cat. In 1776 the whole New Test. was issued, while of the Old Test. only some parts were published. When, in 1812, the Colombo Auxiliary Bible Society was formed, one of the first measures adopted by the society was the examination of the Singhalese version of the New Test. It was found that a thorough revision or a new translation was deemed indispensable. The work of revision progressed but slowly; and it was not till 1817 that the revised New Test. left the Colombo press. Six years later the Old Test. was printed. In the meantime; the Rev. Mr. Lambrick, of the Church Mission at Cotta, a village near Colombo, had undertaken another translation of the Singhalese Scriptures, which was completed in 1834 at the expense of the Church Missionary Society. This version, which is generally distinguished as the "Cotta Version," differs from the one set forth by the Colombo Bible Society in the following particulars:

1. All the honorific terminations — that is, peculiar terminations of the verbs, nouns, and pronouns indicative of respect — used in books in the high Singhalese dialect are omitted in the Cotta version.

2. Those terminations of nouns, etc., in common use in the colloquial dialect are adopted.

3. One pronoun for the second person singular (there are twelve others in use in Singhalese books) is uniformly used throughout the Cotta version, whoever may be the person spoken to, human or divine.

4. Words in common use are invariably substituted for learned ones." As both versions had their merits, yet the missionaries of various denominations engaged in Ceylon came to the conclusion that one version should be for common use; and a revision committee was appointed in 1853 to prepare a new translation. In 1857 the revision of the New Test. was completed; but when that of the Old Test. will be completed it is difficult to say. Meanwhile it has been found necessary to print more than one edition of the Old Test. according to the previously existing versions. See Le Long Masch, Bibliotheca Sacra (Hale, 1778), 2, 1, 210 sq.; The Bible of Every Land, p. 147 sq.; the Annual Reports of the British and Foreign Bible Society, 1857 sq. (B.P.)

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