« السابقةمتابعة »
“ translation, and transcribing several fair copies 6 of it.
“ In May, following, Mirza Mehdee with " the Persian Mullahs, and some of the Chris" tian Priests, set out from Isfahan for the Per“ sian Court, which was then held in encamp
ment near Teheran. Nadir received them “ with some marks of civility, and had a cur
sory view of the performance. Some part of it
was read to him ; on which occasion he made. " several ludicrous remarks on the mysterious
parts of the Christian Religion ; at the same “ time he laughed at the Jews, and turned Ma“ homed and Ali equally into ridicule."-And after some expressions of levity, intimating that he could himself make a better religion, than any that had yet been produced, “ he dismissed “ these churchmen and translators with some “ small presents, not equal in value to the expence of the journey."*
This version of the Gospels, prepared by command of Nadir Shah, is probably the same with that which is sometimes found in the hands of the Armenian Priests in India. A copy was lately shewn to an Oriental scholar in Bengal,t
# Rev. H. Martyn.
who observed, “ that if this was the same, he “ did not wonder at Nadir's contempt of it.”
The number of natives, already professing Christianity in Persia, and who are prepared to receive a translation of the Scriptures, is very considerable. They consist of four or five classes, viz. the Georgian, the Armenian, the Nestorian, the Jacobite, and the Romish Christians. The Georgians have the Bible in the Georgian Language, which was printed at Moscow in 1743; but the language is not so generally cultivated among the higher ranks as the Persian. It probably bears the same relation to the Persian, which the Welch does to the English. The Armenians have a version of the Bible in their own proper tongue, but the copies are few in number. The Nestorian and Jacobite Christians use the Syriac Bible: but it is yet more rare than the Armenian. There are, besides, multitudes of Jew's in Persia, who, as well as these different classes of Christians, commonly speak the vernacular language of the country.
The Persian Language is known far beyond the limits of Persia proper. It is spoken at all the Mussulman Courts in India, and is the usual language of judicial proceedings under the British Government in Hindostan. It bas been
called “ the great Eastern language of cor es“ pondence and state affairs ;* and is next in importance to the Arabic and Chinese, in regard to the extent of territory through which it is spoken, being generally understood from Calcutta to Damascus.
Here then is a language, spoken over nearly one quarter of the globe, the proper tongue of a great kingdom, in which an attempt has already been made by royal authority to obtain a translation of the Christian Scriptures; and where there are, at a low computation, two hundred thousand Christians ready to receive them. Many of the Persians themselves would read the Bible with avidity, if presented to them in an inviting form. The cause of the little jealously of Christianity in Persia, compared with that which is found in other Mahomedan States, is to be ascribed to these two circumstances; first, That Christianity has always existed in Persia: the Christian natives forming a considerable part of the population; and secondly, That the Persians themselves profess so lax a system of Islamism that they have been
# See Richardson's dissertation on the Persian Language.
accounted by some Mussulmans a kind of heretics.
It will form an epoch in the history of Persia, when a version of the Old and New Testaments shall begin to be known generally in that country. But the narrative of Nadir Shah's attempt sufficiently proves that no ordinary scholar is qualified to undertake it. The author of such a translation must be a perfect master of the Arabic Language, the mother of the Persic, and familiar with the popular and classical Persian. He must, moreover, have access to the Scriptures in their original tongues. Such a person, we think, has been found in Sabar of Arabia, who is accounted by competent judges, “ to be " the first Arabic scholar of the age."* He has been employed for nearly four years past in translating the Scriptures into the Persian and Arabic Languages, in conjunction with Mirza Fitrut of Lucknow, and other learned natives. Mirza is himself a Persian by descent, and a man of liberal learning among his countrymen. He visited England some years ago, and was afterwards appointed a Persian teacher, and a
* See Report of Translations by Rev. Henry Martyn, hereafter quoted.
translator of the Scriptures in the College of Fort-William. These versions by Sabat and Mirza, are conducted under the superintendance of the Rey. Henry Martyn, who is himself an Arabic and Persian scholar, and skilled in the original tongues of the Sacred Scriptures. He is a chaplain to the Honourable the East India Company, and is now stationed at Cawnpore in Bengal, where his learned coadjutors also reside. The Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, translated by Sabat into the Persian Language, have already been printed: and 800 copies are stated in the last Report, dated May, 1810, to have been desposited in the BIBLIOTHECA BIBLICA, at Calcutta, for sale.
ARABIA was the country in which St. Paul first opened his heavenly ministry. “ When it pleased God," saith that Apostle, « who called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that. I might preach him among the heathen ; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood;