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The Eliot Indian Bible and Early Colonial Language Encounters

Gabriel Swift, Princeton University Library

October 14, 2019 · 12:00 pm1:30 pm · 144 Louis A. Simpson Building

Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication

In 1663, the Cambridge press in the Massachusetts Bay Colony completed Mamusse wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblium God, a Wôpanâak translation of the Old and New Testaments. Commonly referred to as the Eliot Indian Bible, the publication was the first Bible printed in the New World and the first complete Bible translated into a non-western language for missionary purposes.  While the translation was headed by John Eliot (1604—1690), Puritan minister and missionary ‘Apostle to the Indians,’ several indigenous inhabitants played a significant role in both the translation and production of the book.  In presenting findings from research conducted on a census of extant copies, this talk will explore the challenges encountered in Book History when working with a seventeenth-century translation in a nearly forgotten language.

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