November 1, 2014

The First Bible in Myanmar


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Myanmar is spoken by the Burmese living primarily in the lowlands of the central and southern Myanmar. There are also Burmese speaking Buddhists in the Chittagong region of Bangladesh. Myanmar id the official language of the union of Myanmar, consisting of states representing the nationalities of Myanmar, including Shan, Kachin, Karen, Kayan and Chin peoples. Burmese is a Tibeto-Burmese language related to Arakanese and Maru, Atsi and Lashi languages of northern Myanmar. The Burmese script, derived primarily from Mon writing, has 42 letters.

1815 Matthew Serampore MP (Translated by Felix Carey, Baptist Missionary)

1817 Matthew 1821 Ephesians 1826 Matthew, John, Acts, Hebrews 1-3 John 1832 New Testament 1834 Psalms 1834-1835 Old Testament (in 3 parts) 1837 New Testament (Revised) 1840 Bible (Revised). American Baptist Missionary Union, Maulmain (Translated by Adoniram Judson, American Baptist Missionary Union, 1788-1850).

1902 Mark, Luke  1903 Matthew, John British and Foreign Bible Society, Rangoon (Translated by a committee under the supervision of J. M. Strachan.) The Committee included W. Sherratt, BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY agent, A. H. Bestall Wesleyan MS, G. Whitehead, and C. E. Garrad, Society of the Propagation of the Gospel.

1903 New Testament Hanthawaddy Press, Rangoon (Translated by U Tun Nyein, a Burmese Christian.)

1909 New Testament 1926 Bible British and Foreign Bible Society, Rangoon (The British and Foreign Bible Society re-edited the NT of U Tun Nyein and added the OT – published with a further revised N.T.)

1933 Bible American Baptist Mission Press, Rangoon (The revision of the Judson text by John McGuire.)

Burmese in common language was translated by a committee and NT was published in 2002. The OT is under going proof reading.

Brief history of Myanmar Bible in Common language

The first Holy Bible in Myanmar language was translated by Adoniram Judson, an American Baptist Missionary over 176 years ago. The contribution of Judson Bible towards the life of Christians in Myanmar and the field of Myanmar literature is immeasurably immense. This Bible had transformed the life of many people. Christians read it for nearly two centuries. Besides, this Bible has been highly appreciated as one of classic pieces and stands as one of the landmarks of Myanmar literature. The language level is high and beautiful.

The language changes as the years passed by. The meanings of some words used in Judson Bible are no longer the same today. Many terminologies became archaic. A lot of phrasal expressions are hard to understand for modern Myanmar speakers. For such reasons, the Christian leaders were convinced to translate the Bible in Myanmar language for the common and modern people.

In the year 1966, the translation project of Myanmar Common Language was started. The Translation Supervising Committee was formed with Rev Dr U Ba Han, Rev U Ba Hmyin, Rev U Aung Than, Archbishop Francis Ah Mya, and Dr Hla Phu. Soon as the translation project was started, Rev Dr Ba Han and Dr Hla Phu passed away. Archbishop Francis Ah Mya resigned due to health complaint. Rev Pe Thwin (Thanlin Pe Thwin) was later appointed to be a member of Translation Supervising Committee.

U Sein Pe, headmaster of Mission schools, well known teacher and State Education Officer was appointed to be translator. He was competent in both languages: Burmese and English. At the early stage of the translation project, Saya Chit Lwin (San Toe: Sapyi Beihman, a member of Kamayut Baptist Church) helped to translate the book of Proverbs; Sayama Gyi Daw Hnit (a member of Kyimindaing Baptist Church) helped to translate the book of Ruth. Not long after, they could no longer help any further due to their ill health. Thus, Sayagyi Sein Pe had to translate the rest of the books by himself. He started in November 1966 and finished the whole Bible in February 1981. He was closely assisted by Dr. H. K. Molton and Norman Mundhank, who were well versed in original Biblical languages.

As to the process of Myanmar Common Language Bible translation, Good News Bible was the based text, which is in common English and translated from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. The translation drafts were checked by Rev Dr Stephen Hre Kio and Rev Dr Gam Seng Shae, the native Myanmar and UBS translation consultants.

In 1984, the New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs in Myanmar Common Language was published for the first time. Then, correction of spelling mistakes and further checking were done by Revision Committee under the leadership of Rev U Aung Than, the former General Secretary of Bible Society of Myanmar. Upon the completion, the second edition was published in 2001.

The translation drafts of the whole Bible were thoroughly read and checked by Rev U Tha Din, Rev U Aung Khin, Sayama Gyi Daw Myat Yin, Rev Moh Moh Ei, Bishop U Mya Thaung, Sayama Daw Kyu Kyu Win, Rev Samo Aung Saw and Rev Mahn Kya Lun, and completed in November 1999. As a result of their hard work and cooperative effort of the interdenominational leaders, the first publication of 5000 copies of Myanmar Bible in Common Language was completed in 2005 for the first time in history. This Myanmar Bible in Common Language was dedicated on January 12, 2006 at Karen Centenary Church, Insein.