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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Malayalim Version of the Scriptures

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The Malayalim is spoken along the western coast of Peninsular India, from cape Comorin to the borders of Canara, and from the sea to the western Ghauts. This region, sometimes distinguished by the general name of Malayala, comprises the British district of Malabar, under the Madras presidency, and the territories of the several rajahs of Travancore, Cochin, and Coorg. The natives in general are Hindus. When Dr. Buchanan, at the beginning of the present century, visited the Syrian Christians at Malayala, he found that several attempts had been made by them at different times, though without success, to effect a translation of the Scriptures into Malaysalim, their vernacular language. At the suggestion of Dr. Buchanan the design was carried into execution, and the bishop, Mar Dionysius, engaged to superintend the translation. On his second visit to Travancore, in 1807, Dr. Buchanan found that the translation of the four gospels had been completed by Timapah Pillay and Rembar, a catanar or priest of the Syrian Church.

The translation had been made from the Tamul version of Fabricius, and an edition of five thousand copies of these gospels was printed at Bombay at the expense of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Timapah Pillay was subsequently placed under the superintendence of the Reverend Mr. Thompson, at Madras, in order to complete the translation of the New Test., which was accomplished in 1813. This version, however, did not prove satisfactory, and Mr. Spring, chaplain at Tellicherry, proposed to enter upon a complete revision of Timapah Pillay's version, so as to render it acceptable to the natives of Malabar; while Mr. Bailey, who was stationed at Cottayam, engaged to execute a new translation for the benefit of the inhabitants of Travancore.

Both these translations were completed in 1819, and on examination Mr. Bailey's version was preferred by the Madras Bible Society, at whose expense the New Test. was published at Cottayam, in 1830. The translation of the Old Test. was likewise completed by Mr. Bailey the same year, and this work was submitted to a sub-committee, formed in 1832, in connection with the Madras Society, for the publication of a Malavyalim version of the Old Test. In 1834 some parts of the New Test. were printed in London, under the care of Mr. Bailey, who had been compelled to visit England on account of his health. The remainder of the New Test. was printed by him at the mission-press in Cottayam. Complete editions of both the Old and New Tests. in Malayalim have since been issued from the Cottayam press. The version previously in current use was, however, admitted to stand in need of further revision, and a publishing committee was appointed for the purpose. In the report for 1856 we read that the revision of the New Test. has been completed, together with that of the first three books of the Pentateuch.

In 1858 the revision had proceeded as far as the end of the second book of Samuel, while in 1863 we are told that the Old Test. had been reprinted, with a few corrections. In 1871 we read that "the New Test., in this southern Indian language, is about to be revised, but the plan of operations has not vet been fully decided upon. The bishops and pastors in the Syrian Church of Malabar have undertaken to aid the English and German missionaries in the work." The meeting of delegates appointed for that purpose took place, according to the report of 1872, July 26, 1871, at Calnanore. The delegates present were the Reverend Messrs. Baker and Justus Joseph, of the Church Missionary Society, and Fritz and Miller, of the German Basle Mission. The work of the delegates progressed very slowly.

In the report for 1877 we read that the revision of the New Test. was carried on as far as Hebrews 5, and, said the Reverend H. Baker, convener of the delegates, "I trust in a few months to see the end of the New Test., and shall hope to praise God for enabling me to do the little I have done towards this edition." His wish, however, has not been fulfilled, for to use the words of the report for 1879, "the Malayalim Revision Committee has lost its senior member, the Reverend H. Baker, of the Church Missionary Society, Cottayam. This, together with the dialectical differences in the language as spoken in North and South Malabar, has made the task very difficult. The revision has been carried on, however, in the New Test. to the end of James, the first two gospels having undergone a second revision." From the report for 1883 we learn that the revision of the New Test. had been brought to a close in 1882, and that an edition of eight thousand copies has been printed. The Old Test. is now in the course of revision. See Bible of Every Land, page 145. For linguistic purposes, see Gundert, A Malayalim and English Dictionary. (B.P.)


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

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