Swahili Version

Swahili Version The Swahili, which was formerly described as Kisuaheli (that is, "according to Swahili"), is spoken at Zanzibar and for a considerable distance down the East Coast of Africa, besides being likely to become an important means of communication with inland tribes. The language is evidently an offshoot of the Kaffir family, but is strongly impregnated with Arabic words, being a connecting-ink between the two opposite families of speech. A tentative translation of the New Test. was made by the Rev. Dr. Krapf when in Eastern Africa a few years ago, but he never so far perfected his work as to render it prudent to propose its publication. Independently of Dr. Krapfs work, the attention of others had been drawn to this important subject; and when the Rev. Dr. Steere returned to England in 1869 he brought with him a translation of St. Matthew and the book of Psalms, which he had himself prepared during a residence of several years at Zanzibar. In the same year the Gospel of St. Matthew was printed; and as this was the first time any part of the Scriptures had been published in that language, and the circulation must of necessity be limited, only a small edition was issued. In 1871 the book of Psalms was printed, which was followed in 1875 by the publication of St. John's Gospel, and in 1877 by that of St. Luke, the latter as translated by the late missionary Rebmann, but with the orthography made to conform to that of bishop Steere. From the Report for the year 1877, we see that a proposal was made to use the Arabic characters for this version, but the committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society could not approve of it, inasmuch as the weight of evidence went to show that any natives who were acquainted with the Arabic characters could read the pure Arabic version, while for the rest the Kisuaheii in Roman characters was far simpler. Altogether the missionaries circulated in about nine years (i.e. since the publication of St. Matthew in 1869 to March 30, 1878) 4048 copies. Thus encouraged, bishop Steere is preparing a translation of the other books of the Bible. (B.P.).

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