Embodying Memories: Early Bible Translations in Tranquebar and Serampore

Daniel Jeyaraj

Textual translations embody particular socio-cultural memories of their languages and also of their host languages. Communities of readers, leading meaning makers, and interpreters determine the continuing and discontinuing memories embodied in the translated texts. Early eighteenth-century translation of the Bible into Tamil by the German Lutheran Pietists in Tranquebar and into Bengali and Sanskrit by the British Baptists in Serampore illustrate these principles. Building on what the Roman Catholic missionaries had translated earlier, the Lutherans and the Baptists helped their Indian readers to hear biblical characters speaking their languages and even creatively engaging with their socio-cultural and religious memories.

READ MORE