1663 John Eliot’s Algonquin Bible – The First Bible Printed in America


1st Bible Printed in America

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The First Bible Printed in America

This is the most exciting product that The Bible Museum has offered in nearly ten years! This is the one facsimile that has been years in the making, and we are ecstatic to provide it today. If you are a collector, it’s a must-have.

Many people are shocked to discover that the first Bible printed in America was not English… or any other European language. In fact, English and European language Bibles would not be printed in America until a century later! Eliot’s Bible did much more than bring the Gospel to the pagan natives who were worshiping creation rather than the Creator… it gave them literacy, as they did not have a written language of their own until this Bible was printed for them.

The main reason there were no English language Bibles printed in America until the late 1700s is because they were more cheaply and easily imported from England up until the embargo of the Revolutionary War. However, the kind of Bible John Eliot needed for his missionary outreach to the Native American “Indians” was certainly not to be found in England or elsewhere. It had to be created on the spot. Eliot recognized that one of the main reasons why the native Americans were considered “primitive” by European settlers was that they did not have a written alphabet of their own. They communicated almost exclusively through spoken language, and their little writing was in minimal pictorial images, more like Egyptian hieroglyphics than any functional alphabetical language like those of Europe, Asia, or Africa.

Clearly, the Word of God was something these people needed if they were to stop worshiping creation and false gods and learn to worship the true Creator. Still, God’s Word could not realistically be translated effectively into their primitive pictorial drawings. So Eliot found a wonderful solution: he would give the native Americans the gift of God’s Word and also give them the gift of true literacy. He agreed to learn their spoken language, and they agreed to learn the Western world’s phonetic alphabet (how to pronounce words made up of character symbols like A, B, C, D, E, etc.) Eliot then translated the Bible into their native Algonquin tongue, phonetically using our alphabet! This way, the natives did not really even need to learn how to speak English, and they could still have a Bible that they could READ. In fact, they could go on to use their newly learned alphabet to write other books of their own, if they so desired, and build their culture as the other nations of the world had done. What a wonderful gift!

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