Marathi “Subodh Bible”, A Milestone In Biblical Translation History
By Fr. Robert B. D’Souza, SAR NEWS
PUNE, Maharastra (SAR NEWS) — “Subodh Bible”, a new Marathi edition of the Bible in simple and yet standard Marathi by senior writer and socio-religious thinker, Father Francis D’Britto, is another stepping stone in the history of Bible translation.
Archbishop of Bombay Cardinal Oswald Gracias has hailed the new edition as a “milestone in the history of Christianity in Vasai and a feather in the cap of the Diocese of Vasai.”
Renowned Scripture scholar Dr. Francis Pereira SJ described it as “a Mahagranth, which is an innovative, unique and successful experiment in the tradition of Bible translations in Marathi.”
According to the Oxford Dictionary’s survey of 2003, the Bible has been translated in more than 1,750 world languages. A part of the Bible was first translated by Major William Kerry in 1807. A single-handed first Marathi translation was completed by Pandita Ramabai in 1924. Ever since, “Subodh Bible” is the first of its kind edited by Father D’Britto after a thorough research and study for 20 long years.
For this monumental work, he has consulted the most recent biblical commentaries, dictionaries, books, concordances as well experts and scholars in biblical languages like Hebrew and Greek. The editor has arranged the books of the “Old Testament” in eleven “parvas” and has rewritten the entire “New Testament” in heart-stirring Marathi language. He has managed to present the Bible in a new form without sacrificing the truth enshrined in the original biblical passages.
Though the project was undertaken initially to meet the demands of our non-Christian Marathi-speaking brethren, the final outcome has come up to meet a scholarly need and equally pastoral hunger of the Christians as well. A voluminous work consisting of 1,100 pages includes 100 colours as well as black and white pictures and paintings rarely found in any of the recent Bible translations. This is further supplemented by some important maps for a clearer view of Biblical geography. A well-studied General Introduction to the Bible, comprehensive introductions to every section and each book of the Bible and finally, the rich footnotes in almost every chapter are some of the special features of “Subodh Bible.”
The edition takes surveys of various theological movements in Christianity such as Liberation Theology Movement, Feminist Theology Movement, etc., and their influence on Bible translations. The editor has also painstakingly incorporated the journey of Biblical art such as music, operas, paintings, films, sculptures, frescoes, mosaics, window glass paintings, novels, plays, etc. While maintaining the scholarly caliber of the text, Father D’Britto has taken utmost care to feed the hunger and thirst of a sincerer seeker of truth. At times he provides with deep and profound spiritual insights from Christian saints as well as religious thinkers including some Maharashtrian poets.
In his foreword to the “Subodh Bible”, Bishop Thomas Dabre of Vasai has evaluated this work from the point of view of Christian Literature and has appealed to the readers to handle this historic work with faith and studious mind.
The Rajhans Prakashan of Pune is well known for its literary contributions in the Marathi Sahitya Vishwa. The publisher, Dilip Mazgaokar, and the editor, Anand Hardikar of Rajhans Prakashan, have gone out of their way to make this groundbreaking work see the light of the day.
“Subodh Bible” will be officially released on June 20, 2010, at 9.30 a. m. at Father Bhandare Hall, Devtalao, Vasai, in the presence of Archbishop Felix Machado, Dr. Narendra Jadhav and many other eminent personalities from the fields of biblical studies and Marathi literature.
(The writer is a member of the Pune Papal Seminary).