corner graphic

Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Malay Version of the Scriptures

Resource Toolbox

The Scriptures, either in whole or in part, were translated into Malayan several times. The first translation was made by John Van Hasel, a director of the East India Company, formed in 1602. When he had completed a version of the gospel according to Matthew, he handed over the MS. to Peter de Carpentier, the general of the company, and soon after, in 1612, another version, prepared by Albert Cornelisson Ruyl, was delivered to the same individual, in order that the two versions might be compared. Ruyl's was preferred, and he now devoted himself to the completion of the New Test.; but only lived to translate as far as the close of the gospel of Mark. His MSS. were sent to Holland, and were printed with the Dutch version at Enkhuysen in 1629, and again at Amsterdam in 1638. Van Hasel, far from being discouraged at the preference with which Ruyl's version was regarded, persevered with his translation, and completed a version of the four gospels, of which Luke and John were published at Amsterdam in 1646. Van Hasel also translated the Psalms, in concert with Justus Heurn, who, for fifteen years, presided over the Dutch Church in India.

The first portion of this version was printed at Amsterdam in 1648, and the entire Psalter appeared in 1689. Heurn likewise translated the Acts of the Apostles into Malayan, and revised the gospels of Van Hasel and Ruyl, according to the Greek, or rather, perhaps, conformed them to the Low or Belgic version of 1637. This revision, together with the Acts, and the Dutch version in the margin, was printed at Amsterdam in 1651. This was reprinted at Oxford in 1677, at the expense of the Hon. Robert Boyle, and under the superintendence of Dr. Hyde, keeper of the Bodleian Library. A second impression of the same work, in every respect similar to the first, was printed at Oxford in 1704, and the copies were sent to the East for distribution. These, and all the editions above mentioned, were printed in Roman characters. At length, in 1668, the entire New Test. was printed at Amsterdam in Roman letters, translated by Daniel Brower. He lived and died in the East; he also prepared a version of the book of Genesis, which was printed in 1662, and again in 1687, at Amsterdam. A standard Malay version of the Old and New Test. Scriptures was commenced by Dr. M. Leidekker, a Dutch minister of Batavia in 1685. He translated most of the books of the Old Test. twice; and in the New Test. had advanced as far as the 6th verse of the 6th chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, when he was called away in 1701. After his decease Petrus Van der Vorm was appointed to complete the work, which he did before the close of the year, In 1722 the Dutch government appointed four ministers to examine and correct the work. Besides Van der Vorm, there were Arnaldus Brandts, Cornelius Ninaher, and George Hendrick Werndly. The work was completed in 1728. Two copies appear to have been made, one in Roman, and the other in Arabic characters. The former was printed at Amsterdam (1731-33), under the care of the Reverend G.H. Werndly and Dr. Serruns, aided by two Malay chaplains.

The latter was published at Batavia in 1758, under the direction of the Dutch governor, Jacob Mosselo In 1813 George Livett, Esq., a resident at Amboyna, addressed the Calcutta Bible Society in behalf of the Amboynese Christians, who were almost destitute of Bibles. The society had three thousand copies of the Malayan New Test. printed at Serampore in 1814, the text being that of 1731. This edition was in Roman characters. But as there were Malavan districts where the Arabic was still in use, the same society determined upon printing two editions of the Scriptures, one in Roman, the other in Arabic letters.

The former was completed in 1817, when the entire Bible from the text of 1731-33 left the press; the latter was not published until 1822, the text of 1758 having been carefully revised and corrected for that purpose by the Rev. Mr. Hutchings and major McInnes. While these editions were published further supplies of the Malayan Scriptures were prepared in London, at the earnest request of the Auxiliary Bible Society at Amboyna. In 1819 the New Test. in the Roman character, from the text of 1733, was printed by the British and' Foreign Bible Society, under the care of professor Lee, and in 1822 the entire Bible from the same text was issued. In 1820 the Netherlands Bible Society supplied the Malays with the New Test. which was printed at Haarlem, and in 1824 the whole Bible was published for the Malays by the same society, in an edition of five thousand copies. These editions were printed in Arabic characters from the edition of 1758, under the superintendence of professor Wilmet. In 1822 the same society printed an edition of New Tests. and Bibles in the Roman character from the text of 1733. In 1830 the Calcutta Society printed, at Singapore, an edition of two thousand five hundred copies of Matthew's gospel, in Arabic characters, as the first step towards giving a fresh edition of the entire Newo Test. This measure was adopted in consequence of the desire manifested among the Western Malays themselves to read the Scriptures a circumstance never known before, for the Bible had previously been urged upon them rather than freely accepted, and their Mohammedan prejudices had been deemed impregnable.

In consequence of their increased demand for the "Englishman's Koran," the Calcutta Society published, in 1833, a revised edition of one thousand' copies of the Gospels and the Acts, and one thousand five hundred copies of the entire New Test. from the edition corrected by Mr. Hutchings. The printing was carried on at Singapore, under the care of the Reverend Messrs. Thomson and Burn, of the London Missionary Society. Another version of the New Test., less literal and more idiomatic than former translations, was executed by the agents of the London Missionary Society and of the American Bible Society, at Singapore. Editions in both the Arabic and Roman characters were printed in 1856, under the care of the Reverend B. P. Keasberry. The latter had also undertaken a translation of the Old Test., of which he had already prepared a considerable part, when his death, in 1875, put a stop to the work. Since 1814 the Java Auxiliary Bible Society has contemplated the plan of publishing the New Test. in Low Malay, which is spoken in the lower parts of Java. An edition of the New Test. in the Low Malay, which was commenced by Mr. Robinson, a Baptist missionary, and completed by Dr. Medhurst, left the press at Singapore in 1833. Some Christians at Sourabaya prepared a translation of the Psalms, which was printed at Amsterdam in 1847, under the care of professor Vetti, by the Netherlands Bible Society. In 1877 the British and Foreign Bible Society published the translation of the book of Exodus of Mr. J.L. Marten, which the Reverend E. W. King, who brought it to England from Java, superintended. See Bible of Every Land, page 360.

Linguistic Helps. Dennys, A Handbook of Malay Colloquial, as Spoken in Singapore; Maxwell, A Manual of the Malay Language (1882); Swettenham, Vocabulary of the English and Malay Languages (Singapore, 1881, 2 volumes); Favre, Grammaire de la Langue Malaise (Paris, 1876); Dictionnaire Malais-Frangais (1875, 2 volumes); Dictionnaire Francais-Malais (1880, 2 volumes). (B.P.)


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Malay Version of the Scriptures'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/m/malay-version-of-the-scriptures.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Search for…
Enter query in the box:
 or 
Choose a letter to browse:
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M 
N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z 

 
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology