Tamil Version

Tamil Version Tamil, or Tamul, the language of the ancient kingdom of Dravira, is spoken in the extensive country now called the Carnatic, and is the vernacular language from the town of Pulicat in the north to Cape Comorin in the south, and from the shores of the Indian Ocean on the east to the Ghauts on the west. It also obtains along the whole northern coast of Ceylon, including the populous district of Jaffna, where it is spoken by a race of people sometimes called the Malabars. Tamil is likewise, the vernacular language of the Moormen of Ceylon.

A Tamil version of the New Test. was executed by Ziegenbalg, the first Protestant missionary to India, with the help of other missionaries associated with him, at Tranquebar. He commenced the translation in 1708, and completed it in 1711. The printing of this version was delayed in order that it might receive the benefit of a thorough revisal; and this important task was committed to John Ernest Grundler, a German missionary, who had arrived in India soon after the commencement of the translation. Under his care the work was printed, bearing the title Novum Testamentum D. N. Jesu Christi, ex Originali Texte in Linguam Damulicam o Versum, in Usum Gentis Malabaricae, opera et studio Bartholomrei Ziegenbalg et Joan. Ernesti Grundleri Serenissimi DaniseRegis Friderici IV ad Indos Orientales Missionariorum (Tranquebarae, 1714). In 1717 Ziegenbalg commenced the translation of the Old Test., and in 1719, having carried it as far as the book of Ruth, he died, at the age of thirty-six. After his decease, and that of his fellow- laborer Grundler, which occurred during the following year, the revision of his manuscripts and the prosecution of the version of the Old Test. revolved on Benjamin Schultze, a missionary who had arrived from Halle a short time previously under the patronage of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowiedge. Schultze published the portion of the Old Test. translated by Ziegenbalg in 1723, and completed the version in 1727, which was published in three parts, viz. Biblia Damulica, seu quod Deus Omnipotentissimus semet ipsum ex sua .Eternitate clarius Manifestaturus de Ccelo est Locutus,Veteris Testamenti Pars Prima, in qua Mosis Libri quinque, Josuce Liber unus, atque Liber vnus Judicum, studio et opera Bartholornei Zegenbalgii Missionarii ad Indos Orientales in linguamr Damulicam versi continentur (Tranquebariae in littore Coromandelino, typis et sumptibus Missionis Danicne, 1723). Biblia Damulica, seu quod Deus Sapientissim'us in sua'Divina (Economia cumn Populo Israelitico et Egit t et Locutus est. Veteris Testanenti Pars Secunda, in qua Libellus Ruth, Samnzelis Liber Prior et Posterior, Liber Nehemiae, Liber Esther, Liber Jobi, Liber Psalmorum Davidis, Liber Proverbium, Liber Ecclesiastae, et Liber Cantici Canticorum, studio et opera, etc. (ibid. 1726). Biblia Damulica, seu quod Deus Omnniscius de gratia in Jesu Christo tempore Novi Testamenti Revelanda per Sanctos suos Prophetas est Vaticinatus. Veteris Testamenti Pars Tertiac, in qua Prophetae Majores, Esaias, Jeremias, ejusdemque Lamentationes, Ezechiel, Daniel; Prophetae Minores, Hoseas, Joel, Amos, Obadia, Jona, Micha, Nahum, fabacuc, Zephania, Haggai, Zacharias, et Malachias, studio et opera, etc. (ibid. 1727). To these parts were added, in the year 1728, the Apocryphal books, or Libri Apocryphi, seu Libri a quibusdam Piis Viris Ecclesice A

ntiquce Judaicaepost Prophetas Veteris Testamenti Scripti, continentes partim Varias Regulas Vitce Utiles,partim Supplementum Historic Ecclesiasticae Veteris Testamenti, scilicet Liber Sapientiae, Ecclesiasticus sive Sirach, Liber Esdrce, Liber Tobice, Liber Judith, A djectiones ad Librum Esther, Liberaruch, Epistola Jeremice, A djectiones ad Danielem seu Trium Virorum Hymnologia, Historia Sosannae, item Belis et Draconis, Maccabaeorum Liber Primus, Secundus, et Tertius, denique Oratio Manassis, studio et opera, etc. (ibid. 1728). Schultze likewise addressed himself to a diligent revision of the New Test., a second edition of which he' put to press in 1722, and completed in 1724, at Tranquebar. It has the same title as the first, with the addition. Editio secunda correctior et accessione sumtmariorum cnjusvis capitis auctior. In 1758 a third edition of the New Test. was printed at the same place; it had' previously been subjected to another revision, in which several missionaries took a part. The second Tranquebar edition was reprinted at Colombo in 1741-43, after having undergone some alterations adapting it to the Tamil spoken in Ceylon. This edition was designed for the native Tamilian Christians in that island, and was published under the auspices of L. B. von Imhoff, the governor.

In 1777 an important version of the New Test. was published by the Rev. J. P. Fabricius, one of Schultze's successors in the Danish mission at Madras. This version is far more elegant and classical in diction than that of the Tranquebar translators. Fabricius likewise undertook the revision of Schultze's version of the Old Test., preparatory to a second edition; but the work, as revised by him, has every claim to be considered a new and independent version. He sent the translation, sheet by sheet, for examination and correction to the missionaries at Cuddalore; from them it passed to the Danish missionaries, and from these to the native translator to, the Danish government. The notes and corrections thus obtained were carefully collated by Fabricius, and the whole translation was again subjected by him to a searching revision. It was printed at the mission press at Tranquebar between the years 1777 and 1782 under the special care of two missionaries, one of whom was Dr. Rottler. Fabricius was esteemed an "unparalleled Tamil scholar," and his translation long held the rank of the standard Tamil version of the Scriptures in the missions of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Tanjore and Madras, and partly in those in Tinnevelly, and also in the missions of the Leipsic Lutheran Missionary Society.

The editions of the two versions of the New Test. above mentioned, printed by the Danish missionaries prior to the commencement of the present century, amount in all to fourteen, besides two versions of the Old Test. But the number of copies issued being very far from adequate to the wants of the native Christians, the deplorable scarcity of the Scriptures in the Tanil country was first pressed upon the notice of the British and Foreign Bible Society in a letter from the Rev. Dr. Buchanan, dated Madura, 1806; and in 1813 an edition consisting of 5000 copies was completed by the Serampore missionaries, the text being that of Fabricius.

As a great demand for the Scriptures still continued throughout the Tamil country, even after the circulation of this large edition, it seemed necessary to take immediate measures for issuing further supplies. The want of copies of the Scriptures appeared to be particularly felt at Ceylon, where the number of native Christians speaking the Tamil language was estimated at 45,000. Besides the edition of the New Test. published at Colombo in 1743, as above mentioned, a version of the Pentateuch, translated by Mr. De Milho, had also been printed in Ceylon, under the patronage of the Dutch government, in 1790. These editions, however, had been long exhausted, and the people in general were almost destitute of the Scriptures. It was therefore deemed advisable not only to issue another edition, but also to obtain such a revision of the existing version as might render it intelligible to the Tamil population of Ceylon and of the adjacent continent. This important version was committed to the Rev. C. T. E. Rhenius, of the Church Mission, subject to the superintendence of the Rev. Dr. Rottler (who had formerly assisted in carrying the version of Fabricius through the press) and to the inspection of the missionaries at Trichinopoly, Tanjore, and Tranquebar. To secure the greater accuracy of the work, a committee of translation was appointed at Madras in 1821. In 1829 Rhenius's version seemed to have been completed, and from the time of its appearance it has been used in the missions of the Church Missionary Society, and in those of the London Missionary Society, the Wesleyan Missionary Society, and the American Board of Missions.

But neither Fabricius's version nor Rhenius's being in universal use among Tamil Christians, neither version had acquired among them that prescriptive reverence and authority which are conceded to the authorized English version (except by Roman Catholics) wherever the English language is spoken. Fabricius's version, though admitted by all to be very faithful to the original, was regarded by Tamil scholars in general as too frequently unidiomatical and obscure; while Rhenius's version, though generally written in clear, idiomatic Tamil, was regarded by some of those by whom it was used, and by all who were accustomed to Fabricius, as too paraphrastic, as departing too frequently, without sufficient warrant, from the renderings adopted in the principal European versions, and as needlessly differing from Fabricius's forms of expression, even when they happened to be perfectly correct.

For the sake of having a version which should be generally acceptable to Tamil Christians and Tamil scholars, the Rev. P. Percival, assisted by missionaries in Jaffna, Ceylon, undertook in 1849 a new version, known as the "Tentative Version," which has proved to be a very valuable contribution to the work of Tamil Biblical revision.

The Romanists, who had managed to evade the necessity of publishing any portion of the Holy Scriptures in Tamil during the 300 years in which they had been laboring in the Tamil country, were induced in 1857 to publish at Pondicherry a translation of their own of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. This translation has been made from the Latin Vulgate, not from the original Greek, and, where it is a good translation, may be regarded as a reproduction of Fabricius, with a still more excessive zeal for literality. Where it differs from Fabricils, though occasionally it succeeds in' giving a happy turn to the expression, it more often presents so curious a mixture of high and low Tamil, and the general character of the composition is so rugged and uncouth, that even the heads of the Roman community themselves need have very little fear that this long delayed, reluctantly published translation of a portion of the Scriptures should be too generally read by their people.

Taking all these circumstances into account, and considering the evils arising from the existence and use among Tamil Christians of a variety of versions of the Tamil New Test., it was felt that another effort was in the highest degree desirable to secure to the Tamil people a version which should be worthy of being accepted by all religious communities in the Tamil country, however they might differ in various other particulars. Accordingly delegates were selected from the various missionary bodies in the Tamil-speaking district. The first meeting was held at Palamcotta. It commenced on April 29,1861 and closed on June 18, during which period the delegates worked nine hours a day. In 1863 the revision of the Tamil New Test., under the editorial supervision of the Rev. H. Bower, was completed.

In the report for 1865 we read, "The attention of the Madras Auxiliary is now directed to a version of the Tamil Old Test., on the same principles as have led to, the successful completion of the New Test. under the editorial superintendence of the Rev. H. Bower." The completion of this version was announced in 1869. In 1873 we read that Mr. Bower has been appointed to prepare the marginal references and alternative renderings for the Tamil Bible. Up to March 31, 1889, the British and Foreign Bible, Society had disposed of 2,549,150 copies of the Tamil Bible, while of the Tamil with English 32,000 were distributed. See Masch, Bibliotheca Sacra, 2, 197 sq.; the Bible of Every Land; and the Annual Reports of the British and Foreign Bible Society. (B. P.)

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