This is a portion of the article on the Triennial Convention dealing with the issue of foreign Bible translations by missionaries in the early 19th century. - jrd
Bible Translation. — Baptists have always been foremost in the translation and circulation of the Scriptures. Dr. Judson at the earliest possible time began to translate, and to this work consecrated his splendid abilities with untiring devotion. Oct. 24, 1840, he completed the second and final revision of the Burmese Bible, a version declared by competent judges to be almost unequaled. The missionaries of the Convention and of the American Baptist Missionary Union have translated the Bible, in whole or in part, into the various Karen and other dialects used in Burmah, into Teloogoo, Siamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Assamese and other dialects used in Assam; also into various Indian languages in North America. These versions have been freely circulated. Scripture distribution has been, extensively carried on in Europe, especially in Germany. This is still vigorously pursued by the American Baptist Missionary Union.
This Bible work, and especially the Burmese version of Dr. Judson, was the occasion of making the Convention the foremost asserter of the principle of absolute fidelity in translating the Word of God. The British and Foreign Bible Society having refused to aid in printing the English Baptist versions in India unless the words relating to baptism were transferred or translated in a manner acceptable to all denominations, the American Baptist Board at Salem in 1833 declared that its missionaries must translate the whole Bible faithfully and intelligibly, transferring no words capable of translation. In 1836 the board of the American Bible Society, following the example of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and with like unfaithfulness to the truth and injustice to its Baptist members and contributors, declared that it would aid only such versions as were conformed in their principles of translation to King James’s version, at least so far as that they could be used by all denominations. They sent a check for $5000 to aid in printing Dr. Judson's version, under this restriction. The Baptist board returned the check. The Convention reaffirmed the resolutions of 1833, and called on the denomination for means to carry on a faithful Bible work, which were amply furnished, largely at first through the American and Foreign Bible Society, and later, also, through the American Bible Union. English Baptists, who had refused to mutilate their versions, soon after formed the "Bible Translation Society." In 1879 the American Baptist Missionary Union unanimously and solemnly reaffirmed the position taken by the Convention, and in 1880 the American Baptist Publication Society declared for a "pure translation of the Word of God." Thus the denomination has the high honor of being the champion at home and abroad, of the great principle of faithful translation, and of steadfastly resisting the monstrous demand that the Word of God shall be translated to suit human opinions and convenience. ==============
[From William Cathcart, editor, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881; rpt. 1988. — jrd]
Bible Controversy Index
Baptist History Homepage