Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

A M H A R I C.

SPECIMEN, FROM ST. JOHN, CHAP. I. v. 1 to 14. አስቀድሞ፡ቃል፡ነበረ፡፡ ቃልም:ከእግዚኣብሔር ፡ ዘንድ ፡ ነበረ፡፡ እግዚአብሔርም፡ ቃል ፡ ነበረ። ይኸ ፡ኣስቀድሞ፡ ከእግዚኣብሔር፡ ዘንድ፡ ነበረ፡ ሁሉ፡ በርሱ፡ ሆነ።ያ ለርሱም :ኣልሆነም : ምንም : ከሆነው ፡ ሁሉ ፡፡ ሕይወት ፡ በርሱ : ነበረች :: ሕይወት ም፡ የሰው፡ብርሃን፡ ነበረች ፡፡ ብርሃንም : በጨለማ ፡ያበራል፡፡ ጨለማም :ኣታገኛው ም፡፡ ሰው፡ ነበረ፡ከእግዚአብሔር፡የተላከ፡ ስሙም ፡ዮሐንስ፡፡ ይኸ፡ለምስክር፡ መ ጣ ፡ ላብርሃን፡ላመሰክር፡፡ ሁሉ፡ በርሱ፡ያምን፡ዘንድ፡፡ እርሱ፡ብርሃን፡አይደለም፡፡ ነገር፡ግን : ተላከ ፡ ላብርሃን፡ላመሰክር።እውነተኛ፡ ብርሃን ነበረ፡ለሰው ፡ሁሉ፡ ያ ሚያበራ ፡ ወደ፡ ዓላም፡ለሚመጣው ፡፡ በዓለም፡ነበረ፡፡ ዓለሙም፡ በርሱ፡ ሆነ፡፡ ዓ ለምም: አላወቀውም :: ወደ፡ ወገኖቹ ፡ መጣ ፡፡ ወገኖቹም አልተቀበሉትም። ለተቀ በሉት ፡ ሁሉ ፡ ግን፡ ስልጣን ፡ ሰጣቸው ፡ የእግዚአብሔር፡ ልጀች፡ይሆኑ፡ ዘንድ፡፡ በስ ሙ፡ የሚያምኑ::ከደም፡ ወገን፡ያይደሉ፡ ከሥጋ፡ ፈቃድም፡ከሰውም፡ መውደድ። ነገር፡ ግን ፡ ከእግዚአብሔር፡ ተወላዴ፡፡ ቃልም : ሥጋ፡ ሆነ ፡ በኛም :አደረ፡፡ ክብሩ ም፡ኣየነ፡ኣንድ፡እንደ፡መሆኑ፡ ክብር፡ ከአብ ፡፡ ጸጋ፡አውነትም፡ ያመላበት ፡፡

1.-GEOGRAPHICAL PREDOMINANCE OF THE LANGUAGE. AMHARIC is properly only the vernacular dialect of Amhara, a division or kingdom of Abyssinia lying west and south of the Tacazze, and measuring about 112 miles from east to west, by forty in breadth. From the circumstance, however, of its being the language of Gondar, the capital, and the native dialect of the reigning family, Amharic predominates far beyond the limits of Amhara, and by its aid a traveller can make himself understood throughout Abyssinia. Amharic is also extensively used as a medium of intercourse with Negro and other tribes from the interior of Africa, who frequent the north of that continent.

II.-CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LANGUAGE.

Amharic is a degenerated Shemitic language, having to all appearance lost many of its original characteristics by admixture with African dialects. In grammatical structure it varies considerably from the Ethiopic, but above half the words are still the same in both languages. The Ethiopic alphabet is used in writing Amharic, but seven additional consonants have been adopted to represent the compound Amharic sounds.

III.-AMHARIC VERSION OF SCRIPTURE. The earliest attempts to translate portions of Scripture into Amharic were made by the Romish missionaries, but the date and comparative value of their productions are unknown, for the MSS. have never been seen in Europe, neither is it now known what has become of them. The Gospel of St. Mark was translated by Mr. Pearce, under the superintendence of the Rev. Mr. Jowett, and this MS., written in Roman characters, is now in the possession of the British and Foreign Bible Society. An Amharic version of the entire Scriptures, which has superseded all others, was commenced about 1810 by M. Asselin de Cherville, French consul at Cairo. After many fruitless inquiries for a person competent

.

a

to aid him in the acquisition of the language, he was providentially directed to an old man named Abu Rumi, whom he eventually engaged to translate the Scriptures. “ Imagine,” said M. Asselin, “my surprise in finding in this poor old man a person master of the literature of his country; a traveller who had penetrated the most remote regions of Asia; the instructor of Bruce and of Sir William Jones.” Abu Rumi was well qualified for the work of translation by his acquaintance with Arabic, Greek, Persian, and several other languages besides his own. He executed his version under the immediate direction of M. Asselin; twice a week, during a period of ten years, they secluded themselves from all other occupations, and read together the Arabic version from which the translation was to be made. M. Asselin explained such terms as were abstruse, difficult, or foreign to the Arabic, by reference to the original text, the Syriac version, the Septuagint, and various glossaries, but Abu Rumi also often found the key to them in the Ethiopic itself. In the early portions of the work, M. Asselin declared that he had often occasion to admire the patience of his aged companion; but when they came to the Epistles of St. Paul, Abu Rumi's zeal began to cool, the difficulty of the task frightened him, he wanted to set off for Jerusalem, and it was only by dint of time, care and sacrifices, that M. Asselin convinced him of the necessity of not leaving the work imperfect. It may not be uninteresting to mention that this poor old man, immediately on the completion of his work, executed his favourite project of visiting Jerusalem, and was cut off by the plague soon after his arrival. The version was sold by M. Asselin to the British and Foreign Bible Society. The Rev. Mr. Jowett was employed by the Society in carrying on the negotiation, and in 1820 he undertook a journey from Malta to Cairo to effect the purchase. The purchase money was £1250. The MS. was brought to England in 1821, and was read with much approbation by those acquainted with the language. Dr. Lee, in a letter addressed to the Bible Committee, dated 1822, says, “ the work appears to have been executed with uncommon ability and accuracy. There is no attempt whatever to display the learning of the translator by any of that verbiage so common to all the languages of the East, but all is precise, easy, and natural.” In 1824 the Gospels were carried through the press by Dr. Lee, Mr. Jowett, and Mr. Platt, and in 1829 the entire Amharic Testament was completed. In 1840 the Old Testament was published, and in 1842 an edition of the whole Scriptures. In superintending the printing of these editions, Mr. Platt carefully compared Abu Rumi's edition with the original Greek and Hebrew, and inserted such corrections as seemed indispensably requisite, leaving a more complete revision for a future opportunity. A second edition of the Pentateuch was afterwards printed, in which, with the assistance of the Rev. C. Isenberg, formerly a missionary in Abyssinia, such a revision was to a great extent accomplished.

a

IV.-RESULTS OF THE DISSEMINATION OF THIS VERSION. There are more impediments to the saving influence of the Scriptures in this nominally Christian land, than in many idolatrous countries. The moral and mental condition of the people is deplorable. Polygamy prevails to a considerable extent, and they are the victims of many degrading superstitions. All afflictions they attribute to the immediate influence of devils and of witchcraft. The life of Mr. (now Bishop) Gobat was once nearly sacrificed by the prevalence of these superstitious notions; he was ill, and those among whom he laboured, and who were sincerely attached to him, instead of giving him assistance, crowded round him, some holding his hands, others his feet, while one amongst them was engaged in thrusting into his ears, mouth, and nostrils, nauseous substances which they called medicines. Yet the Abyssinians have not been found unwilling to confess the absurdity of their opinions when confronted with the light of Scriptural truth. They invariably bow to the authority of Scripture. On one occasion, a monk went to the missionaries with a very self-righteous air, but apparently very ill. The account he gave of himself was as follows:-“Being the son of a Governor," he said, “and somewhat at ease, I lived many years in sin. At length, my conscience was awakened, and I began to fear the wrath of God. My agony and terror increased continually; and I did not know what to do;" (for he dared not to call upon the name of the Lord, having never heard of the way of salvation by the merits of Christ,) " at last I determined to lcave secretly my wife and my children, and all that I had, and to

66

a

[ocr errors]

retire into a wilderness which was inhabited only by wild beasts

. There 1 lived many months upon roots, taking only just as much as was necessary to keep me alive. As I could find no peace for my heart, I determined to stand in a river of cold water from sunset to sunrise; which I did for a long time. I next bound my ankles so fast with a chain that I have ever since been unable to walk without very great pain. Finally, I inflicted a number of stripes every day on my body, the source of my sins, till it was covered all over with putrifying wounds. This,” he added, “has ruined my health, but I console myself with the idea that I have done all this for God's sake." When Mr. Gobat told him that all those self-inflicted sufferings were the result of ignorance and pride, and therefore sinful, and that it was altogether impossible to find true relief by means of any expedient of that kind, he trembled for fear; but when some passages from the Epistles of St. Paul and other parts of Scripture were repeated to him, which testify that by grace we are saved through faith, not of ourselves, for it is the gift of God, the poor man was quite astonished, and cried out, “Is it possible? and can I yet be saved ?” “ I had despaired,” he afterwards said, " of finding peace with God: I determined therefore, if possible, to secure

“ a good name among my fellow-men; and for that purpose I have been going about for some time, exhorting people to live better. But now I will read the gospel, and seek for the way of salvation in the Word of God." There are many other instances of the readiness with which the Abyssinians receive the testimony of Scripture.

The learned Bishop of Jerusalem, by whom the foregoing narrative is recorded, says that when he first began to distribute copies of the vernacular Scriptures among the people, they evinced little desire to receive them, being afraid of being deceived. By placing some copies for distribution in the hands of the priests, these suspicions were removed, and people immediately came, earnestly requesting to be furnished with the Word of God. If,” continues he, “I had had some thousands of New Testaments, I could have distributed them to eager readers. I know some instances where persons have given all their property in order to purchase a copy of the New Testament: one man who had

them for a copy of the Four Gospels; and another man gave four oxen in exchange for the Four Gospels."

In a letter addressed to the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1849, the Bishop of Jerusalem instances a highly interesting result in connection with the Amharic version of the Scriptures. Writing from Jerusalem, his lordship says, “ You will remember that, about two years ago, I asked for

I some Amharic Bibles, which your committee had the kindness to grant. But when the Bibles arrived, the Abyssinian individuals for whom I chiefly cared had left Jerusalem, and as, for a long time, I did not observe an earnest desire for the word of God among the Abyssinians here, I gave only now and then a New Testament, but no Bible; until, a few months ago, the very same individuals for whom I had desired Amharic Bibles, but who had since left for their own country, returned, with letters to me from the King of Abyssinia and a good number of the most influential men in that country, begging me to take the Abyssinian convent here and its inmates under my special superintendence. This, to a certain degree, as far as my power goes, I have accepted; and now I have the pleasure of informing you that, for several weeks past, all the Abyssinians here, to the number of above seventy, meet three times every day together, to have the Bible read to them by three of their priests in their own vernacular language. I cannot yet speak of fruits, but I have reason to hope for some.”

Later testimony from the same source encourages the hope that further openings will be speedily afforded for a fuller introduction of the Scriptures into that country. It appears that there is a disposition on the part of the people to accept and peruse the Sacred Volume; and it is stated that the present King of Abyssinia adopts the admirable practice of daily reading the Scriptures in the vernacular Amharic. We learn from the Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society for the present year (1860) that an edition of 2000 copies of the Amharic version of the Psalms has just been commenced, under the editorial care of Dr. Krapf, at the instance of the Bishop of Jerusalem.

two oxen gave

[ocr errors]

CLASS III.-INDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGES.

MEDO-PERSIAN FAMILY.

A

PERSIA N.

SPECIMEN, FROM ST. JOHN, CHAP. I. v. 1 to 14.*

[ocr errors]

*

[ocr errors]

در ابتدا كلمه بود و آن کلمه نزير خدا بود و آن كلمه خدا بود و همان در ابتدا نزد خدا بود و هر چیز بوساطت او موجود شد و بغير از او هیچ چیز از چیزهائي که موجود شده است وجود نیافت * در او حيات بود و آن حيات روشنائے انسان بود و آن روشنائے در تاریکی می درخشید و تاريكي در نمي یافت - شخصي بود که از جانب خدا فرستاده شده که اسمش كيي بود و او براي شهادت آمد تا آنکه شهادت بر آن نور دهد تا آنکه همه بوساطت او ايمان آورند . و او خود روشنائي نبود بلکه آمده

بر آن روشنائي شهادت بدهد و روشنائي حقيقي آن است که هر کس را که جهان در مي آید منور میگرداند و این در جهان بود و حهان بوساطت او پدید کشت و جهانش نمي شناخت • و بسوي خاصان خویش آمد و ایشان نپذیرفتندش و چند که پذیرفتندش ایشان را رتبه داد كه فرزندان خدا بشوند و ایشان بودند که باسمش ایمان آوردند و تولیر ایشان از اخلاط و از خواهش جسمانی و خواهش نفساني نبود بلکه متبرد از خدا بود و آن كلمه مجسم شده در میان ما قرار گرفت و تجلي اورا ما دیدیم و آن تبتلي بود كه شايسته يكانه پدر بود و پر از مهرباني و راستي بود

که

و

*

لا

1.-EXTENT AND STATISTICS. The kingdom of Iran or Persia Proper (in Persian, Fars and Iran), lies between 26° and 39° north latitude, and 44o and 62° east longitude. Its inhabitants are divided into two distinct classes, the Taujiks or aboriginal inhabitants of the country (whose number has been estimated by Fraser at about 7,000,000), and the Ilyats or Eilauts, a collective name given to the nomadic tribes by whom a considerable part of Persia is occupied. The latter comprise perhaps a fourth part of the entire population of the kingdom, and have been estimated at about two and a half millions. Of these tribes, some are of Persian, and others of Turkish, Mongolian, Affghan, and Arabic origin; the languages spoken in Persia are * From the Persian Version, by Henry Martyn, 8vo., published by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1816.

therefore as numerous as the races by whom it is peopled. Turkish is predominant in the northern and western provinces, although the natives are likewise acquainted with Persian. The Rev. H. Southgate, an American missionary, remarked that in his travels through these provinces he never once found it necessary to resort to Persian in his conversations with the people. The Taujiks, whose vernacular is invariably Persian, form the main population of Fars, and of almost all the towns of Persia. But the Persian language is predominant far beyond the regions of Persia Proper. In India it is spoken at all the Mohammedan courts; and it is, or was till very recently, the language adopted by the British Government in all judicial proceedings throughout Hindoostan. It is the vernacular language of the ancient Transoxiana, and indeed of the whole of Turkestan, now subject to the Usbec Tartars; in this country the Taujiks possess four independent governments in which pure Persian is spoken. Generally speaking, however, the Taujiks do not dwell together in corporate societies like other nations, but disperse themselves over the regions adjacent to their native land, and adopt the dress and customs of the dominant race in the countries in which they sojourn. They are said to be scattered as far as Tibet, and to have been met with in Chinese Turkestan. In Affghanistan they have been calculated by Elphinstone to number 1,500,000, and the Kohistan of Cabul is occupied almost solely by them.

The religion of the Taujiks is Mohammedanism; but Soofeeism, or free-thinking, a species of infidelity akin to the rationalism of Germany, is extremely prevalent among them. The entire Mohammedan population of Persia, however, belongs to the Sheeite sect of the Mohammedan faith, which regards Ali as the legitimate successor of the Arabian prophet, and refuses to recognise the three caliphs who immediately followed Mohammed. There are also about 2,300 families of Guebres or fire-worshippers in Persia, and on the western coast of India there are about 200,000 individuals belonging to this ancient sect. These Guebres or Parsees of India now form one of the most valuable classes of the subjects of Britain; their ancestors are believed to have fled thither when Persia fell under the Mohammedan yoke, and the books and sacred fire which they brought with them are still religiously preserved.

II.-CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LANGUAGE.

The origin of the Persian language dates from the invasion of the Arabs in the seventh century. Prior to that period, various idioms prevailed throughout the Persian empire, of which the principal were the Pehlvi, the Farsi or Parsi, and the Deri. The Pehlvi, rude and masculine in structure, was closely allied to Chaldee, and was the dialect of Media properly so called, while the Farsi or Parsi was the language of Persia Proper, and its sub-dialect the Deri was the polished idiom of the court. Modern Persian was gradually formed during the long dominion of the Saracens in Persia, by admixture of the Parsi and Deri elements with the language of the conquerors. But the primitive type of the whole Persian family is undoubtedly the Zend, a language belonging to the same stem as the Sanscrit. Concerning the period during which this ancient tongue was vernacular, history is silent; but it appears to have been the language of Zoroaster and of the Magi, and to have been once predominant in the west of India among the worshippers of the sun. Modern Persian, although greatly adulterated with other languages, still retains abundant evidences of its descent from the Zend. The numerous and important points of affinity which united the Zend with the Sanscrit, are not all obliterated in Persian. All the Indian words which occur in Persian are, however, characterised by their abbreviated form, and it is rare in this language to meet with an unmutilated Sanscrit term, for the final letters are generally cut off, and words of two syllables reduced to one. The Persian, like its parent the Zend, is more allied than any of the other Asiatic languages to the Germanic family; in fact, the entire fabric of the etymology of German and its cognate dialects is based upon the Persian. Of the 12,000 radical words composing the Persian language, 4,000 are found with more or less change in the Germanic dialects, and a striking conformity prevails even in the inflections of these languages. The termination of the infinitive of verbs in the Persian is ten and den, the en of the German, and the elv of the Greek. The termination of the plural in Persian for men and animated beings is the syllable an, corresponding with the plural

« PreviousContinue »