Hindi Old Testament
[Hindi Old Testament (Historical Books)].
[Serampore: Mission Press, 1818]. (Prothro B-378)
The group of vernacular translations exhibited here includes seven editions printed between 1813 and 1821 by the Mission Press at Serampore, India. The Mission Press was founded in 1800 by the English Baptist missionaries William Carey (1761–1834) and William Ward (1769–1823), who had moved from Calcutta to the nearby Danish colony of Serampore to avoid the strictures of the British East India Company. From 1801 to 1837 the Mission Press printed Bibles and scriptural selections in 45 different South Asian languages, including 35 editions that were the first appearances of the scriptures in those languages. Rev. Carey, a self-taught speaker of numerous Indian languages, produced the translations with the aid of several assistants, while Rev. Ward, a trained printer, produced the typefaces required by the various languages. A special paper used for these editions, impervious to local insects, was produced at India’s first paper mill, established by the missionary John Clark Marshman.
Hindi is spoken by approximately one-third of the population of India. This is the first edition of the historical books of the Bible (Joshua through Esther) in Hindi. Inscriptions within the Serampore Bibles indicate that in 1822 William Ward sent the seven volumes from India to Isaiah Thomas, the famous American printer and philanthropist, as a gift for the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts.