Burmese Bible History (1)

Useful Resources

**List: Burmese Ministry

Bible ( သမ်မာကမျြး )
"Burmese is spoken by more than 12 million people, living
primarily in the lowlands of central and southern Burma.
There are also about 100,000 Burmese-speaking B_ddhists, the
Maghi (q.v.), or Morma, in the Chittagong region of East

Burmese is the official language of the Union of Burma, a re-
public (since 1948), consisting of states representing the nationali-
ties of Burma, including the Shan, Kachin, Karen, Kayan, and
Chin peoples.   Burmese is a Tibeto-Burman language, related to
Arakanese and the Maru, Lashi, and Atsi languages of northern
Burma.   The Burmese script, derived primarily from the Mon
writing, has 42 letters.

The Bible in Burmese, associated from the beginning with the
name of Adoniram Judson, had as adventurous a start as the
mies. who began it in 1817.   No one has given a better
picture than Judson of the difficulties that face the newcomer
who aspires to master an Oriental language to the degree
enabling him to translate the Word of God into it.   Two years
after he had begun translation he wrote: ‘When we take up a
language spoken by a people on the other side of the earth,
whose very thoughts run in channels diverse from ours, and

whose codes of expression are consequently all new; when we
find the letters and words all totally destitute of the least re-
semblance to any language we have ever met with, and these
words not fairly divided and distinguished, as in Western
writing, by breaks, and points, and capitals, but run together in
one continuous line, a sentence or paragraph seeming to the
eye but one long word; when, instead of clear characters on
paper, we find only obscure scratches on dried palm leaves
strung together, and called a book; when we have no dictionary
and no interpreter to explain a single word, and must get
something of the language before we can avail ourselves of the
assistance of a native teacher’
-- that means works; so he concluded
in an emphatic Latin phrase.

Yet Judson himself did not wait long to begin the great task of
translating.   Though he writes: ‘A young my., who
expects to pick up the language in a year or two, will probably
find that he has not counted the cost,’
nevertheless he adds:
‘Notwithstanding my great incompetency, I am beginning to
translate the New Testament, being extremely anxious to get
some parts of Scripture, at least, into an intelligible shape, if for
no other purpose than to read, as occasion offers, to the Burmese
with whom I meet.’

While he was translating the New Testament, Judson spent
twenty-one months in prison, owing to Burmese hostility to
Europeans.   The New Testament portions that had already been
printed were safe from destruction, but the manuscript sections,
at first hidden by Mrs. Judson in their home, had to be removed
lest they perish from mold during the rainy season.   Where
would they be safe?   Ingenuity decided.   The handwritten
translation was sewn up in a pillow, so hard and so ugly and
uncomfortable, that not even the most avaricious jailor or
prisoner would be tempted to steal it.   After the my. had
for months pillowed his head on the treasured by uncom-
promising cushion, a band of men rushed into the prison yard
one day and seized everything on which they could lay their
hands, Judson’s precious pillow not excepted.   It turned out that
the jailor fell heir to it, but he tossed it aside in disgust.   When a
search was anticipated, someone tore it open and threw away
the contents, which looked like a roll of hard cotton.   Such it
appeared also to Moung Ing, one of Judson’s converts, but he
preserved it and carried it to his home as a momento of the be-
loved my.   Only after the lapse of more months was the
manuscript that lay within the cotton roll discovered, intact
despite its adventures.   It was thus preserved to become a part of
the Burmese Bible."
--1000 Tongues, 1972   [Info only]

**File: Burmese Bible History (3)--1860   S. Bagster   [Info only: Burmese, including its cognate dialect Arakanese.]

    publication, St. Matthew’s Gospel in 1815 at Serampore; tr. by Felix

    Carey, son of William Carey.   (A pamphlet of Scripture extracts had
    been published in 1811.
    )   (See No. 87)"
    --1000 Tongues, 1939   [Info only]

"1815 Matthew Serampore MP
Translated by Felix Carey, Baptist my."
--1000 Tongues, 1972   [Info only:
"quite unintelligible to the Burmans" per S. Bagster]

"1817 Matthew   1821 Ephesians   1826 Matthew   John
Acts   Hebrews   1-3 John   1832 New Testament
1834 Psalms   1834-1835   Old Testament (in 3 parts)
1837 New Testament (revised)   1840 Bible (revised)
American Baptist My. Union, Maulmain
Translated by Adoniram Judson, American Baptist My. Union,
--1000 Tongues, 1972   [Info only:
AJ, RFM Mark 1:2 correct (the prophets).]

BURMESE--1000 Tongues, 1939   [Info only: Judson version   Burmese characters   "1832" John 3:3-17 unknown.]

"The New Testament, in Burmese... (Maulmein [n. pub.], 1832)"   [Info only]

"Bible: The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ... (Maulmein : American Baptist Mission Press, 1837)"   [Info only: language?]

"The Holy Bible : containing the Old and New Testaments / translated into the Burmese, from the original tongues. (Maulmain, Burma : Printed at the American Baptist Mission Press for the American and Foreign Bible Society and the American Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, 1840)"   [Info only]

       "A committee appointed by the
    BFBS began work on a revision of the New Testament in 1900, of
    which St. Mark’s Gospel and St. Luke’s Gospel appeared in 1902.   In
    1903 a translation of the New Testament by a Burmese Christian, Tun
    Nyein, was published in Rangoon; this was purchased by the BFBS and
    edited and published by them in 1909.   Work on the Old Testament was
    begun in 1912 but was delayed by the World War; it was completed by
    1923, but not published.   The 1909 New Testament was brought into
    harmony with this text and the whole Bible published in 1926 by the
    BFBS at Rangoon.
    --1000 Tongues, 1939   [Info only: ?]

"1902 Mark   Luke   1903 Matthew   John   BFBS, Rangoon
Translated by a committee under the supervision of J. M. Strachan.

The committee included W. Sherratt, BFBS agent, A. H. Bestall,
Wesleyan MS, G. Whitehead, and C. E. Garrad, Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel.
--1000 Tongues, 1972   [Info only: ?]

"1903 New Testament Hanthawaddy Press, Rangoon
Translated by Tun Nyein, a Burmese Christian."
--1000 Tongues, 1972   [Info only: ?]

"1909 New Testament   1926 Bible   BFBS, Rangoon
The BFBS re-edited the N.T. of Tun Nyein and added the O.T.
(published with a further revised N.T.)."
--1000 Tongues, 1972   [Info only: ?]

**File: Burmese Critical Text History

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