The Eliot Indian Bible


The first Bible to be printed in America was John Eliot’s translation of the Bible into Algonquian. The first seal of the Massachusetts colony included the picture of a native American speaking the words “Come and help us.” (from Acts 16:9). Sharing the Gospel with the natives was an early aim of the colony. John Eliot, pastor in Roxbury, Massachusetts, especially concentrated on learning Algonquian and developing a written language for the natives. In 1663 he printed the Indian Bible. The actual printing of the Bible took three years, printing one thousands copies of one page a week. This was the first edition of the Bible published in America. When Cotton Mather first saw this Bible, he exclaimed, "Behold, ye Americans, the greatest honour that ever you were partakers of! This…is the only Bible that ever was printed in all America, from the foundation of the World." This epochal edition was a remarkable achievement for a press in Colonial America. Known famously as the Eliot Indian Bible, it is the first Bible printed in the New World, and it is also the first printed in a language with the intent of catechizing a native people. The translator was John Eliot, a Puritan minister in Roxbury, Massachusetts, who at age forty-two commenced a fifteen-year study of the Narrangansett, or Massachusetts, dialect of the Indian tribes in the vicinity. The work of translation took another eight years. Cotton Mather remarked: "The long words must have been stretching themselves out from the time of the confusion of tongues at Babel." Printing began in 1660 with type, press, and printed shipped from England by the Corporation for the Promoting and Propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in New England. The New Testament was issued in 1661, the entire Bible in 1663.

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Framed Bible Leaves






John Eliot