Thibetan Version

Thibetan Version The vast and mountainous tract of country in which the Thibetan language is spoken lies directly north of Hindustan, from which it is separated by the Himalaya Mountains. Its eastern frontiers border on China; to the west it extends as tar as Cashmere, Afghanistan, and Turkestan; while on the north it is bounded by the countries of the Turks and the Mongols. It is, for the most part, comprised within the Chinese empire; the western parts, however, appear to be independent of China. On account of the extreme jealousy of the Chinese government, Thibet has hitherto been almost inaccessible to foreigners, and our knowledge of the country is in consequence extremely limited.

In 1816 an attempt was made by the Church Missionary Society to furnish the Thibetans with a version of the Scriptures in their own language, but, unhappily, this important undertaking ultimately proved abortive. The matter rested until the year 1843, when Dr. Haberlin, an agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, after journeying through Thibet, again forced the necessity of a Thibetan version upon the attention of Christian societies. Dr. Haberlin states, as the result of his observations and inquiries in Thibet, that as far as the Thibetan language is spoken and the Lamas have any sway, so far literature exercises an important influence on the people. If there were a version of the Scriptures in the Thibetan language, thousands of volumes might annually be sent into the interior of Asia from five different points along the immense frontier of British India; and the millions of people speaking that language, and inquisitive as the Chinese are, might thus have a profitable opportunity of being made acquainted with the things that belong to their salvation." In spite of this encouraging fact, the object advocated by Dr. Haberlin moved very slowly, for not until 1856 do we read of an effort made towards translating the Gospel of St. Matthew, which in 1863 was published by the Moravian Mission at Kyelang. About the same time, a Bible society for the Punjab, with its headquarters at Lahore, was formed, and one of the projects entertained by that society was the translation of the Scriptures into the Thibetan, which had already been commenced by Moravian missionaries. The difficulties, however, were very great, and the work of translation was naturally very slow. Hence we need not be surprised that about five years after the publication of the Gospel of St. Matthew those of John and Mark were published, while up to date the New Test. has not yet been completed. See Bible of Every Land, p. 20 sq. (B. P.)

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