Bibles in African Languages


[Ethiopic (Ge’ez) Psalms and Song of Songs].
Manuscript written in ink on vellum. [Ethiopia, 18th or early 19th century]. (BRMS63)

This section features five Bible translations into African languages. The earliest is a manuscript of Old Testament selections from the liturgy of the Ethiopic Church. As with the Coptic scriptures, such texts were in use by the fourth century CE. The first scriptural translations into other African languages were sponsored by the British and Foreign Bible Society in the 1820s. The foundation of this London-based evangelical organization in 1804 and the American Bible Society in New York in 1816 led to a significant increase in the number of Bible translations produced for purposes of Christian evangelization. The exhibited translations were published by various nineteenth-century American missionary societies.

Also exhibited in the galleries:

[Mpongwe Gospel of Matthew]. The Gospel of Matthew in the Mpongwe Language. Gaboon, West Africa: Press of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1850.

[Tonga Book of Revelation]. The Revelation of St. John the Divine, translated into the Tonga Language. New York: American Bible Society, 1890.

[Zulu Bible]. IBaible eli ingcwele. London: British and Foreign Bible Society; New York: American Bible Society, 1917.

Bibles in African Languages