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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Maltese Version of the Scriptures

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The Maltese spoken by the natives of Malta is a curious mixture of Arabic and Italian, the grammar being Arabic, but a large number of Italian words have been grafted into the vocabulary. Many years ago the four gospels were translated into Maltese by Mr. Vargalli, and printed at the expense of the Church Missionary Society. Afterwards the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge had the work revised, and the remainder of the New Test. translated, by Dr. Camilleri, a native of Malta, and a clergyman of the Church of England. The book, however, did not meet with that acceptance which had been hoped for, owing not so much to any defects in the translation as to the awful ignorance of the people, and their benighted adherence to the priests.

A deep interest having been taken by a few Englishmen living on the island in the spiritual welfare of this people, the question was again mooted of printing a gospel in the Maltese, as there are about 10,000 Maltese, principally women and children, country people and villagers, who read their own language. In 1870 a translation of Matthew's gospel was made by a native, and sent over to England. After the MS. had been examined and reported on by the editorial superintendent and by the Rev. Dr. Camilleri, it was printed under the editorship of the last-named gentleman, and the orthography was made as simple as possible, so as to present no difficulties to those who were able to read at all in their mother tongue. This was in 1871. In the report for 1872 we read: "The edition of Matthew in this language having proved a great boon to religious inquirers among the Maltese, it was resolved that the Acts of the Apostles should be printed. A third portion, namely the gospel according to John, has now been translated, and is about to be printed. The services of the Reverend Dr. Camilleri have proved exceedingly valuable in aiding the preparation of these works." The two gospels and the Acts are the only parts of the New Test. which the Maltese enjoy at present. See Bible of Every Land, page 53. (B.P.)


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

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