The oldest Japanese Bible

The oldest Japanese Bible Yohane no fukuin den (约翰福音之传, John Gospel) was translated by the British missionaries Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff (1803 -1851)between 1835-1836. He did the translation with the assistance of three Japanese sailors, namely Iwakichi, Hisakichi & Otokichi . The translation work was completed in Macau and was published in Singapore by the Mission Press in 1837.

 

Besides Yohane no fukuin den , Gützlaff also translated Yohane jo chu ge sho (约翰福音上中下书, Letters by John).  Both books were published in Singapore in 1837.  It is said that 1690 copies of Yohane no fukuin den were printed then, but there are only 16 copies extant to date.  On the other hand, 2 copies of Yohane jo chu ge sho remain extant, one of which is kept in the British Library collection, while the other is in Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

 

The title Gyutsurafu yaku seisho (ギュツラフ訳聖書, Gützlaff translated Bible) is currently kept in the NUS Chinese Library Rare Book Collection. The title consists of 3 volumes which are Yohane no fukuin den, Yohane jo chu ge sho and commentary by Takaya Michio and Akiyama Norie.  This set was published as a limited edition (limited to 300 sets) by Tokyo Shinban Shuppansha in 1976.

CommentaryJohn GospelLetters by John

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