Turkey, Versions of
Turkey, Versions Of There exist a great many translations of the Scriptures which are used throughout the Turkish empire, but do not properly belong to Turkey alone, as the following list of versions, furnished to us by the Rev. Dr. A. W. Thomson, agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society at Constantinople, will show:
Albanian, Gheg Judaeo-Polish Albanian, Tosk Judaeo-Spanish Arabic Kurdish Armenian, Modern Maltese Azerbijan Roumanian Bulgarian, General Russ, Modern Bulgarian, Eastern Servian Bulgarian, Western Syriac, Modern Croatian Turkish Greek, Modern Turkish, Armeno Hebrew Turkish, Graeco Judaeo-German
These versions have already been treated, more or less fully, in separate articles, or will be found in their proper order in the Supplement. Some of the most important translations — such as the Arabic, Turkish, Bulgarian, and Armenian — have been prepared entirely by American missionaries; and it is very interesting to know how their work is appreciated and regarded by scholars of other countries. The British Quarterly Review, in its January number, 1878, after speaking of the work done by Americans in the Turkish Empire in respect to explorations, literature, and education, medical practice, and the improved condition of woman, thus goes on concerning the Bible translations:
"The most important contribution, however, which the Americans have made to the literature of Turkey is found in the accurate translations which they have made of the Christian Scriptures. These translations are worthy of special notice, because, apart from the religious influence of the Scriptures, they are making a marked impression upon the intellectual life of the various nationalities of Turkey. Fifty years ago there was no version of the Scriptures in any one of the modern languages of that country. The task of making these translations was not an ordinary one. Regard must be had, on the one hand, to the uneducated classes — the style must be such that the common people would readily understand the meaning; on the other hand, regard must be had to the educated classes — the style must be sufficiently elegant and idiomatic to commend itself to the taste of those who are proud of the literary excellences of their ancient tongues. The Americans may fairly claim that they have succeeded in this difficult task, in respect, at least, to four of the important languages of the country. We refer to the modern Armenian, the Arabic, the Turkish, and the Bulgarian. The Turkish versions have varied somewhat, according as they have been prepared for the Armenians the Greeks, or the Osmanli Turks. The preparation of the entire Bible in-the Armeno-Turkish language (the Turkish language written with the Armeniani character) was the life-work of the late William Goodell, D.D. The Rev. Dr. Schauffier has given many years to the preparation of a version of the Scriptures in the Arabo- Turkish; or Turkish written with the Arabic character; while at the present time a permanent committee, of which the Rev. Dr. Riggs is chairman, is engaged in an attempt to recast all the Turkish versions of the Bible, and form one that may be printed in any character. We understand that there is one English representative on this committee. The translation of the Scriptures into Arabic is the result of the labors of two accomplished American scholars — Rev. Eli Smith, D.D., and Rev. C. V. A. Van Dyck, D.D. We are assured by many who are capable of judging that this Arabic version of the Scriptures is worthy of the highest praise, and reflects great credit upon the scholarship of the translators. The same is said of the translations of the Bible that have been made into modern Armenian and Bulgarian by the Rev. Elias Riggs, D.D. We cannot forbear quoting an extract from a letter from Dr. Riggs in regard to the time spent on this branch of his work: "You ask," he says, "in regard to the time devoted to the Armenian and Bulgarian translations of the Bible. In both cases the translations were first issued in parts in small editions, intended partly to supply the existing demand and partly to secure criticisms and to leave room for corrections arising from comparison of the different parts of the Bible. In both cases the whole Bible was finally printed in a single imperial octavo volume, with references. To the Armenian Bible (including the two editions) I gave most of my time for seven years, and to the Bulgarian, more than half my time for eleven years. How long our committee will take to complete the Turkish version it is quite impossible to say. We spent a year on the four gospels. When we remember that these translations are all made from the original Hebrew and Greek; and when we remember, also, that the translations, when put in their permanent form, have been commended by the best Arabic, Turkish, Bulgarian, and Armenian scholars of Turkey; and when we recall, also, the great obstacles the Americans must have met in carrying these translations through the press at Constantinople and Beirut, we cannot refrain from expressing our appreciation, not only of their high scholarship, but of their persevering diligence and steadfastness of purpose; and we are convinced that generations of men yet to come will join in this hearty commendation." This speaks well of the work performed by these American scholars. For reasons stated above, we have confined ourselves in this article to the Turkish version properly so called, and to its transcription into the Armenian and Greek characters.
I. Turkish. — The Turkish language, in its numerous dialectic varieties, is more or less diffused through the vast regions which extend from the Mediterranean to the frontiers of China, and from the shores of the Frozen Ocean to Hindustan. The nations to which this language is vernacular have acted an important part in history; and though their power has now declined, and the Crescent has fallen like a star from heaven, yet a member of this race still occupies the throne of Constantine. The peculiar dialect of this language to which the name of Turkish is generally, by way of preeminence, applied is spoken in European Turkey by the Ottoman or Osmanli Turks, and is the only language which can be employed as a general medium of communication with all the various kindreds of people inhabiting European and Asiatic Turkey. The most ancient Turkish alphabet is the Ouigour, from which the Mongolian is derived; but the modern Turks use the Arabic and Persian characters. Their present alphabet consists of thirty-three letters, twenty-eight of which are Arabic, four are Persian, and one is peculiar to the Turkish. Like most Oriental languages, Turkish is written and read from right to left two versions of the Scriptures in kindred dialects of the Turkish language appear to have been completed about the same period. One of these versions, executed. by Seaman, and printed in England in 1666, will be noticed in the Supplement, under KARASS. The other, comprising both the Old and the New Test., was the work of Ali Bey, whose history is rather remarkable. His original name was Albertus Bobowsky, or Bobovius. He was born in Poland, in the beginning of the 17th century, and while a youth was stolen by the Tartars and sold as a slave in Constantinople. After having spent twenty years in the seraglio, he publicly embraced Mohammedanism, at the same time assuming the name of Ali Bey. He became first dragoman, or translator, to Mohammed IV, and was said to be thoroughly conversant with seventeen languages. At the suggestion and under the direction of the famous Levin Warner, then Dutch ambassador at Constantinople, Ali Bey was induced to translate the catechism of the Church of England into Turkish, and afterwards betook himself to the translation of the entire Scriptures into Turkish. The study of the sacred volume was not without effect on the translator; for it is recorded that Ali Bey entertained thoughts of returning to the Christian Church, and was only prevented by death from accomplishing his design. When his version was corrected and ready for the press, it was sent by Warner to Leyden to be printed. It was deposited in the archives of the university of that city, and there it remained for a century and a half, until baron Von Diez, formerly Russian ambassador at Constantinople, drew the attention of Europe to this long neglected translation. He offered his services in editing the MS. to the committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society; and, meeting with great encouragement to prosecute his design, Mr. Diez immediately addressed himself to the revision of the Old Test. When four books of the Pentateuch were revised he died, and the work of revision was transferred by the society to Kieffer, professor of the Turkish language at the University of Paris and interpreting secretary to the king of France. The new editor disapproved of the plan pursued by his predecessor, particularly of his insertion of vowel-points, and he therefore commenced the work anew, applying himself, in the first instance, to the New Test. He followed the text of the MS. implicitly, without collating it with the original Greek; and thus several errors in the text were inserted in the printed copies, 'which were, however, soon detected, and gave rise to a printed controversy. The circulation was immediately suspended, the errors were examined and corrected by a sub-committee, and Prof. Kieffer commenced a laborious and thorough revision of the text by collating every portion, not only with the original, but with the English, German, and French versions; with the Tartar of Seaman and of the Scotch missionaries at Karass; with the versions of Erpenius and of Martyn; and with those in the London Polyglot. The revision was carried on from 1820 to 1828, when the entire Bible, with the embodied corrections, was completed, and obtained the attestation of the most eminent Orientalists in Europe. The work was printed at Paris, and the original MS. was afterwards returned to Leyden. An edition of the Turkish New Test, carefully revised by Mr. Turabi under the superintendence of Dr. Henderson, was completed by the society in 1853. A subsequent revised edition was printed in 1857. A new version was commenced by the Rev. Dr. Schauffler, and the New Test. was printed in 1866. In 1867 the Psalms followed, to which were afterwards added the Pentateuch and Isaiah. These are, at present, the parts published of Dr. Schauffler's translation. The entire Bible was completed in 1873. "This work," says the Annual Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society for the year 1873, "is of a somewhat extraordinary character, requiring rare powers of scholarship for its execution. It has occupied many years, and the translator has devoted to it the most conscientious and untiring application. It has been the one thing to which his mind and learning have been consecrated. The question has been frequently mooted, and is again under discussion, whether a distinct translation in Turkish is to be published with exclusive reference to the Osmanlis, or whether one and the same text may not be made available both for Osmanlis and for other nationalities speaking the Turkish tongue, but reading their native characters. The latter was the object proposed, when the translation of Dr. Schauffler was commenced; but the views of the translator became modified in the very early stages of his work, and he has aimed to adapt his translation in style to the taste of the Osmanlis, believing that the style common to the Greeks and Armenians speaking Turkish is too coarse and degraded to be met by a version acceptable to the Osmanlis. It is, moreover, alleged that the different nationalities employ the same terms frequently in widely different senses. This view does not elicit the sympathy or endorsement of many of the missionaries, who still hold to the theory that one text should suffice for all classes, and that two' versions would be injurious to the cause of divine truth, on the ground that it might, with some show of propriety be objected that Protestants had one Bible for the rich and learned and another for the poor and unlearned. It is further contended that the necessity for distinct texts does not exist; that the style of Turkish spoken by the Christian populations has materially improved in dignity, although not level with that of the Osmanlis; and that it would be practicable to educate them to something still higher by means of a version of the Scriptures in pure idiomatic Turkish, without being cast in too lofty and artificial a mould. In order to bring the whole question to some practical and satisfactory solution, it is proposed that a committee be formed, composed of the best Turkish scholars, of which Dr. Schauffler shall be president, and to which the examination of his translation shall be submitted; and that authority be given to call in the aid of such literary effendis as may be judged desirable." The committee of joint revisers was formed; but, states the Report for 1874, "after a short experiment the venerable translator (Dr. Schauiffier) resigned his position on the Board of Revisers, and handed over the MS. of the Old Test. to the agents of the British and Foreign and of the American Bible Society, at whose expense the translation has been made. It is an understood thing that the forthcoming Turkish Bible will be based on Dr. Schauffler's work, so that if he should have to regret that the whole will not be printed exactly as it leaves his hand, yet he will enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that he has contributed in a pre-eminent degree to this work, which was the fondest object of his later years; and that his name will go down to future generations associated with one of the hardest tasks ever attempted-the translation of the whole Bible into Osmanli Turkish." As to the work of the committee, we read in the Annual Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society for the year 1879 the following: "The revision of the Turkish Scriptures has been completed, and the version may be fairly considered a new translation. The committee began their work in June, 1873, and the last words of the Old Test. were written at eleven o'clock on May 25, 1878. The object of the committee was to produce a complete Bible for the Turks, which would be simple in language and idiom, and intelligible to the uneducated and acceptable to the learned. The committee was composed of the Rev. Dr. Schauffler (who soon retired from the committee), Dr. Riggs, the Rev. R. H. Weakley, and the Rev. G. F. Herrick, and these called to their help the Rev. Avedis Constantian, pastor of Marash, and two Turkish scholars, one of whom soon withdrew, and was replaced by a very learned man from the banks of the Tigris. One of these Turkish assistants became a firstfruit of the new version. The New Test. was first printed (Constantinople, 1877), and a second edition, in smaller form, was ready in time to send to Russia for the Turkish prisoners; aid the printing of the Old Test. was completed in December, 1878. The Turkish government, to prevent the publication of the version, insisted that each copy should bear the imprimatur of the Imperial Council of Public Instruction, so that the copies go forth with the permission of the Turkish government; and what was meant for a hindrance has turned out to the furtherance of the work. The American Bible Society has shared with this society the labors and expenses of this great work." As to the MS. of Dr. Schauffler, which, as has been stated above, was handed to the agents of the British and Foreign and the American Bible Society, the translator has completed his final revision. "Two parts," states the same report," were not ready in time to be used by the revision committee, as had been intended. The MSS. of the Old Test. (except the Pentateuch and Isaiah already published) are now deposited in the strong-room of the American Bible House, New York, to the joint account of the British and Foreign and the American Bible Society."
II. Turkish-Armenian. — This is, properly speaking, a Turkish version, but printed in Armenian letters, and accommodated to the dialectic peculiarities which prevail among the Armenians of Asia Minor. A Turkish version in their peculiar dialect, and written in their characters, was commenced in 1815 by an Armenian archimandrite named Seraphim, in concert with another Armenian. An edition of five thousand copies of the Testament was printed at St. Petersburg in 1819. Mr. Leeves, agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, devoted much time and trouble to the preparation of a revised edition. The work was afterwards taken up by the missionaries of the American Board of Missions; and in 1843 the entire Scriptures were printed in Smyrna at the expense of the American Society, the translation having been made by the Rev. W. Goodell. Subsequent editions of the Armeno-Turkish Scriptures have been printed at the American Mission press on behalf of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
III. Turkish-Greek. — This, like the preceding version, is Turkish, but printed in Greek letters. In 1782 the Psalms, translated into Turkish by Seraphim, metropolitan of Karamania, were printed in Greek letters; and in 1810 a Turkish version of the Acts and Epistles was printed in the same character at Venice. In consequence of inquiries instituted in 1818 by Dr. Pinkerton, respecting the state of the Christian inhabitants of the ancient Lydia, Caria, Lycia, Phrygia, Pisidia, Cilicia, and Lycaonia, it was ascertained that these poor people are all Greeks or Armenians, acquainted with no language but that of their Turkish masters. As they were unable to read or write except in their native characters, the British and Foreign Bible Society published the Turkish Testament in Greek letters, the translation having been made by Messrs. Goodell and Bird. This edition was printed at Constantinople in 1828. In order to make it more conformable to the provincial mode of speaking Turkish which prevails among the Greek Christians of Asia Minor, Mr. Leeves, agent of the society, undertook a new and revised version, assisted by Mr. Christo Nicolaides, of Philadelphia, who joined Mr. Leeves in 1832, and from that period to 1839 was uninterruptedly employed in the undertaking. The printing of the entire Bible was commenced at Syra, and afterwards transferred to Athens. In 1865 the Psalms, revised with great care under the editorial superintendence of the Rev. Dr. Riggs, passed through the press; and in 1870 the whole Bible, with marginal references, was published in Constantinople. See, besides the Bible of Every Land, the Annual Reports of the British and Foreign and American Bible Societies; and Reed, The Bible Work of the World (Lond. 1879). (B. P.)