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We have noticed the foregoing circumstances in connection with Arabia, to illustrate the importance of preparing a version of the Scriptures for that country, at the present era. But the Arabic language hath gone forth far beyond the bounds of Arabia, and is known to almost“ a third part of men” in the East. The Koran has consecrated it in the eyes of millions of men dwelling in central Asia, on the Continent of Africa, and in the isles of the Indian Ocean.
A version of the whole Bible in Arabic has come down to us; but it is now antiquated, like the Persian, both in dialect and orthography. It does not appear indeed that any composition in a living language of a higher date than about five hundred years, can be of popular use, unless we learn it from our infancy. The language of our own Scriptures becomes now peculiar in many respects, and distinct from the popular speech. It is supposed, that the Arabic Translation is upwards of a thousand years old. Had there been no interruption in the profession of Christianity in Arabia, the ancient Translation might possibly have sufficed: in like manner as the Hebrew is still understood by the Jews, and the Syriac by the Syrian Christians. But when a new religion is to be proposed to a peo
ple, we must use the most dignified and intelligible medium, and present it in the language which is in popular use.
present Arabic Translation in the Polyglot is perfectly intelligible to those who will study it with a lexicon; but we certainly cannot offer it at this time as conveying the meaning of Holy Scripture to the Land of Yemen, or Arabia the Happy:
Soon after Sabat, the Arabian, had been converted to Christianity, the object which chiefly occupied his thoughts, was a translation of the Scriptures for his native country. He himself could easily read and understand the existing translation ; for he is a learned man, and acquainted radically with every dialect of the language ; and it was by means of that translation that he himself became a Christian ;* but he says he should be ashamed to offer the Bible to his countrymen in its present form; such a version would neither be acceptable to the learned, nor intelligible to the unlearned.
* The copy of the New Testament, which fell into the bands of Sabat, was one of the edition published in 1727 by Society for promoting Christian Knowledge," revised by Salomon Negri. An investment of these Arabic Testaments was sent about 1759, to the Society's Missionaries in Calcutta, who circulated them through different provinces. The following is a well-attested fact : They sent some copies to the Mahome. dan Priests at Delhi, “ who requested that the supply might be continued." See Proceedings of the Society of that period,
This noble Arabian has been now three years, , or more, employed in translating the Scriptures into the Arabic language, with the aid of other learned Asiatics, under the superintendence of the Rev. H. Martyn, who has himself been long a student of the Arabic Tongue. Mr. Martyn has lately stated their reasons for undertaking a new translation, which the Author will here subjoin, in deference to the learned at home, who may think some further explanation necessary.
“ Of the Arabic version of the Polyglot, the “ late Professor Carlyle, · in his copy of propo"sals for printing a new edition of it, speaks " in the highest terms, and observes, that it
was used both by Jews and Christians as a faithful and elegant representation of their respective books of faith.
posing that both Jews and Christians are “ satisfied with the translation, no one, who has “ had an opportunity of observing the degraded “ state of these people in the East, would ad“ mit them as competent judges of the Arabic. “The professor has adduced, in favour of the “ version in question, the opinions of Erpenius, “ Gabriel Sionita, and Pocock ; names of high
But even sup
« consideration in Arabic learning, particularly “the last. It is certain, however, that such of " the Mahomedans as have seen this version, “think very differently of it. If we would “invite the fastidious Mussulman to review " the sacred law which he supposes abrogated, “ let us not neglect our present opportunities ; “ but with such an instrument as Sabat in “our possession, let us attempt, at least, to « send forth the Scriptures in a style which “shall command respect, even in Nujed and
Mr. Martyn adverts to the new edition of the Polyglot translation, now publishing in England, under the patronage of the Bishop of Durham, and highly commends the design. “We rejoice," writes he, < to hear that the old Polyglot is going forth at last in a new dress. It may be useful to some in Asia, as it was to Sabat."-And in regard to the extent of country through which the Arabic is spoken, he observes, that the Arabic translation is of more importance than one-fourth of all the translations now in hand. “ We will begin,', says he,“ to preach to Arabia, Syria, Persia, Tartary, part of India and of China, half of Africa, all the sea-coast of the Mediterranean and Turkey; and one tongue shall suffice for them all.”
The proposal for publishing the Arabic Bible has already met with a very liberal patronage in India. It is intended to publish an edition of the New Testament in a splendid form, for the use of the chief men in Arabia and Persia, resembling, as nearly as possible, their own beautiful writing. The Universities, and literary bodies in Europe, will, no doubt, be disposed to subscribe for some copies of this truly classical Work. It is stated in the last accounts, dated May, 1810, that the translation of the New Testament was expected to be finished by the end of the present year, 1811.
THE CONVERSION OF SABAT.
The following account of the conversion of Sabat is extracted from the Author's Sermon, entitled, “ The Star in the East.”
"Thus far we have spoken of the success of the Gospel in Asia, by means of European preachers. But we