09 August 2011

Recent Acquisitions II: A Bible for Rarotonga and Isocrates in the Seventeenth Century

Opening of the Gospel of Matthew
Te Bibilia tapu ra: koia te Koreromotu Taito e te Koreromotu Ou (Lonedona: Societi Bibilia i Bertani e te au Enua Katoa, 1851).

The first full edition of the Bible in Rarotongan, or Cook Islands Maori. The initial translation work was carried out on Rarotonga by members of the London Missionary Society John Williams (1796–1839), Charles Pitman (ca. 1796–1884) and Aaron Buzacott (1800–64) in 1828. Williams, who was the primary translator, returned to England from the South Pacific in 1834 to oversee the printing of his translation of the New Testament. He returned to the Pacific in 1837. Two years later Williams and fellow missionary James Harris were killed and eaten by cannibals while visiting parts of the New Hebrides islands (now Vanuatu).

Pitman and Buzacott continued the translation work and printed portions of the Bible on Rarontonga. According to Darlow and Moule 'the missionaries had intended to print the concluding portions of the OT ... like the earlier portions, at Rarotonga; but the MS. was almost entirely destroyed in a cyclone ... in March 1846, and it had to be rewritten' (Darlow & Moule 7671). In 1847 Buzacott returned to England where he revised the Bible with the assistance of a Rarotongan native named Kiro and T. W. Meller, Editorial Superintendent of the British and Foreign Bible Society (Darlow and Moule).

The B.F.B.S. printed 5,000 copies, which were shipped to the Rarotonga. The translation was so well received by the local Christian population that the entire printing cost was refunded within a few years (Darlow and Moule).

Purchased from Blackwell's Rare Books, Oxford.

Isocratus logoi kai epistolai. Isocratis orationes et epistolae ... (Paris: Sébastien Chappelet, 1631). This edition of Greek rhetorician Isocrates's speeches and letters was edited by Ambroise Pezier and is based on the work of German humanist Hieronymus Wolf (1516–80), who first published his translation of Isocrates in 1551.

The printer, Sébastien Chappelet (1589–1647), was active as a printer and publisher in Paris from 1614 to 1642. The text is in Greek with Latin interlinear translation and marginal notes in both languages.

The copy is bound in contemporary vellum. The binding is mostly detached, revealing some fragments from a fifteenth-century Dutch manuscript used as reinforcing strips along the spine.

The front free endpaper has the ownership inscription of a young James William Robertson (1774–1855), later Minister of Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland. Robertson was licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in 1796 and received his MA from the University of Saint Andrews in 1797.

Received as a donation.

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