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Gaelic Bible

Religious works formed the staple of the literature issued from the Gaelic press from the period now spoken of to the present day. The great want for many years was the Bible. For a long time the clergy used the Irish edition reprinted for the use of the Highlands by Mr Kirk; but this was not satisfactory, from the difference of the dialect; many in consequence preferred translating from the English. This habit pervaded all classes, and it is not improbable that there are in the Highlands still persons who prefer translating from the Scriptures for their own use to the common version. Certain traditional forms of translation given bordered on the ludicrous. A worthy man was once translating the phrase "And they were astonied," and he made it "Bha iad air an clachadh," They were stoned. It was in every way desirable that a correct translation of the Gaelic Bible should be provided for the use of the Highlands, and this was finally undertaken by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge. The person employed to perform the work was the Rev. James Stewart of Killin, a man fully qualified for it, and although his translation retained too much of the Irish dialect of O'Donnell's Irish New Testament, it was welcomed as a highly creditable work, and as a great boon to the Highlands. Many minor changes have been made in the Gaelic New Testament of 1767, but it has been the basis of all subsequent editions which have sought merely to render certain portions of the work more idiomatic and pleasing to a Scottish ear. The publishing of this version of the New Testament proved a great benefit to the Highlands.

Soon after the publication of the New Testament, it was resolved that the Old Testament should be translated into Gaelic also. This work, like the former, was undertaken by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, assisted by a collection made throughout the congregations of the Church of Scotland amounting to 1483. The principal translator employed was the Rev. Dr. John Stewart of Luss, son of the translator of the New Testament, who translated three portions of the work, while a fourth portion, including the Prophets, was executed by the Rev. Dr. Smith of Campbellton, the accomplished editor of the Sean Dana. The whole work was completed and published in the year 1801. This work has been of incalculable service to the Highlands, and is one of the many benefits conferred upon that portion of the country by the excellent Society who undertook it. Objections have been taken to the many Irish idioms introduced into the language, and the extent to which the Irish orthography was followed, but these are minor faults, and the work itself is entitled to all commendation.

Gaelic Bible - Gospel of Mark



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