Bible translations into Malayalam


Translation of the Bible into Malayalam began in 1806, and has influenced development of the modern language.[1]


The first attempt to translate the Bible into Malayalam was made in 1806 by Pulikkottil Joseph Ittoop and Kayamkulam Philipose Ramban, with the support of the Rev. Claudius Buchanan and Colin Macaulay. Buchanan was Vice-Principal of the College of Calcutta and had a strong interest in linguistics. He visited Kerala in the early 19th century and persuaded church leaders to translate biblical manuscripts into Malayalam, with support from local scholars. Macaulay was British Resident of Travancore at that time. He actively supported Buchanan, attending meetings with senior church leaders as well as facilitating several audiences with the Rajah of Travancore to secure his approval as well. Macaulay also undertook the task of supervising the translators.[2]

At that time, Syriac was the liturgical language of Christians in Kerala. By 1807, Ittoop and Ramban—both Malankara Syrian Christian monks—had translated the four gospels from Syriac into Malayalam, assisted by Timapah Pillay. The venue to the translation of Bible into unified and standardized Malayalam vernacular was at Cottayam College" or the "Syrian Seminary" now called as "Old Seminary" or " Orthodox Theological Seminary", Chungom, Kottayam. The College was also privileged to offer the venue of the composition of Malayalam-English, English-Malayalam dictionaries. They then translated the Tamil version by Johann Philipp Fabricius into Malayalam. The Bible Society of India (then an Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society) paid for 500 copies to be printed in Bombay in 1811. Timapah completed translation of the New Testament in 1813, but this edition was found to include vocabulary known only to the Syriac Christian community and not to the general Malayalee population.[3] This translation is now known as the Ramban Bible.

In 1817, the Church Missionary Society of India (CMS) provided Benjamin Bailey to translate the Bible into Malayalam.[4] He completed his translation of the New Testament in 1829 and the Old Testament in 1841. Hermann Gundert updated Bailey's version and produced the first Malayalam-English dictionary in 1872.[5][6][7] Phillipose Rampan (c. 1780-1850) also translated parts of the Bible into Malayalam.[8]

Modern versions

Protestant and Marthoma


The Bible Society of India Kerala Auxiliary (established in 1956) made minor revisions to the Malayalam Old Version in 1910 called Sathyavedhapushthakam (സത്യവേദപുസ്തകം), which became the standard version for Marthoma Church and Protestant denominations. This version translates the Tetragrammaton as Jehovah (യഹോവ) throughout the Old Testament. The complete Sathyavedhapusthakam in Unicode was published online in 2004 by Nishad Hussein Kaippally.[9] Sathyavedhapusthakam was published online in 2014 in various digital formats.[10]

As per Bible Society of India (Kerala Auxiliary), there are 2 versions of Sathayavedhapusthakam popularly used today. Old/Original version (OV) and Common/Contemporary language version (CL). OV is the Malayalam Sathya Veda Pusthakam that was published in 1910. It is the most widely used version among non-catholic denominations. There was a need to bring out a Bible in the contemporary Malayalam language, thus the CL version which was published in 2013.

New India Bible Version

Biblica translated and published the New India Bible Version (NIBV) in Malayalam in 1997.[11]

Easy To Read Version

The World Bible Translation Centre India provides the Easy-to-Read Version.[12]


POC Bible

In 1967, the Pastoral Orientation Center of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council began a new translation of the Bible;[13] it was completed by 1981, and is known as the POC Bible. This version translates the Tetragrammaton as Lord (കർത്താവ്) in the main text and Yahweh (യാഹ്‌വെ) in various footnotes. It is available online in various digital formats.

Syriac Orthodox

The Syriac Orthodox Church uses the Peshitta version as its official Bible and hence all the translations that were done within the church where that of the Peshitta.

Syriac Orthodox Bible Society and Vishudha Grandham

The Syriac Orthodox Bible Society of India published the "Vishuddha Grandham" (വിശുദ്ധ ഗ്രന്ഥം), a translation of the Syriac Peshitta Bible into Malayalam. It was translated by famous Syriac scholar Curien Kaniyamparambil Arch Cor-Episcopa. It is available online in various digital formats. Vishudha Grandham is also available in IOS and Anroid platform. Vishudha Grandham Audio bible is available in Vishudha Grandham Youtube Channel.

Other Works

Vishudha Sathyavedapusthakom

The Vishudha Sathyavedapusthakom by Bro.Dr.Mathews Vergis in Malayalam was released in 2000. It includes various appendices providing commentary about biblical characters and events. It renders the Greek term kyrios (Lord) as Jehovah (യഹോവ) in the New Testament when quoting Old Testament verses containing the Tetragrammaton. The translator assumes that Tetragrammaton originally appeared in New Testament but was later replaced by Christian copyists with Lord (Kyrios in Greek) following the Jewish tradition evident in later copies of Septuagint.

Free Bibles India

In collaboration with Church centric bible translation, Free Bibles India has published a Malayalam translation online.[14]

New World Translation

In 2009, Jehovah's Witnesses released the New Testament in Malayalam, and in 2016 the complete New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures was released.[15] It is available online in various digital formats.[16] This translation replaced the name of God(Tetragrammaton) wherever it was in old scriptures.

Usage of different versions in churches

Most churches in Kerala use Bibles in Malayalam. Saint Thomas Christians, Anglican, Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches use the Bible Society of India version.

Saint Thomas Christians

Saint Thomas Christians may have used the Peshitta Bible at church services until the sixteenth century conflict and church divisions;[citation needed] Saint Thomas Christian denominations now use various translations depending on their affiliation.

The Peshitta (Syriac Bible) translations by Andumalil Mani Kathanar and Fr. Mathew Uppani (Kottayam, 1997) are popular in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.[citation needed]

The Peshitta is also used by the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.

See also


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: devraj to jyoti Amaresh Datta, Sahitya Akademi (New Delhi, Inde) - 1988- Page 1660 "The first Malayalam edition of the Bible was published in 1811 [typo 1841], and its first translation was done by Benjamin Bailey in 1829. Modern Malayalam has been to some extent influenced by the Bible. During the latter part of the 19th century, Kerala, ..."
  2. ^ C.F. Smith, A Life of General Colin Macaulay, (Privately Published, 2019, ISBN 978-1-78972-649-7), pp. 41. Copies of the book are available from the British Library, the Cambridge University Library, the library of Trinity College, Cambridge and the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
  3. ^ Bagster, Samuel (1848). The Bible of every land, a history of the sacred Scriptures. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons. p. 124.
  4. ^ "Brief History Of Malayalam Bible". The Bible Society of India. Archived from the original on 2018-03-25. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  5. ^ Dr. Hermann Gundert and Malayalam language Albrecht Frenz, Skar̲iyā Sakkar̲iya - 1993 "5.4.2 Looking back at various early translations of the Bible in Malayalam one may not hesitate to acknowledge the great literary quality of Gundert's translation. He has rendered Hebrew poetry giving consideration to the rhythm of ..."
  6. ^ Maritime Malabar and the Europeans, 1500-1962 K. S. Mathew, Université de Lyon II. Institut de recherche et d'intervention en sciences humaines - 2003 "On 18 September 1840, Gundert sent the German translation of his first Malayalam Bible tract, Genesis 1-11, to Basle, but for a long time did not get a sanctioning reply from there for printing it. Luckily Gundert had it printed and ..."
  7. ^ The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature (Volume Two) (Devraj To Jyoti): Volume 2 - Page 1660 Amaresh Datta - 2006 "Later, others like Robert Drummond and H. Gundert followed the trend. Gundert's Malayalam bhasha vyakaranam (1851) ... The first Malayalam edition of the Bible was published in 1811,[typo 1841?] and its first translation was done by Benjamin Bailey ..."
  8. ^ History of Malayalam literature R. Leela Devi - 1977 ... who accompanied Kariattil to Rome wrote the first prose travelogue Varthamana Pusthakam, in Malayalam. His Kristhyanukaranam is a translation of Imitation of Christ. Phillipose Rampan and Pulikkottil Ittoop Ramban (1740 - 1816) translated Bible into Malayalam.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Malayalam Bible". Biblica.
  12. ^ "Downloads". World Bible Translation Center.
  13. ^ "Kerala Catholic Bible Society".
  14. ^
  15. ^ "WatchTower publications", Watchtower publications Index (1986-2016)
  16. ^ Malayalam edition of the New World Translation

External links

Online Bibles

  • വിശുദ്ധ വേപുസ്തകം
  • Catholic POC Bible online
  • New World Translation online
  • Free Bibles India translation online

Bible Societies

  • Kerala Auxiliary - Welcome to Bible Society of India