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The Bible in American Life$
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Philip Goff, Arthur Farnsley, and Peter Thuesen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190468910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190468910.001.0001

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America’s First Bible

America’s First Bible

Native Uses, Abuses, and Reuses of the Indian Bible of 1663

Chapter:
(p.35) 2 America’s First Bible
Source:
The Bible in American Life
Author(s):

Linford D. Fisher

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190468910.003.0002

In 1663, America’s first Bible was published in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Not only was it the first entire Bible to be printed anywhere in the Americas, it was also in Wôpanâak, making it the first indigenous-language Bible as well. Although John Eliot spearheaded the project, Native Americans were central to its translation, publication, and reception. When published, its reception varied. Some Natives clearly engaged with the text (as marginal writings in Wôpanâak reveal). Other Natives saw it as a sign of colonialism and either ignored it or physically destroyed it. Still other Natives used it for political purposes. By the eighteenth century, the Indian Bible had mostly fallen out of use. But the Indian Bible has once again served the Native community in New England in recent years, mostly as an important piece of the indigenous language revitalization movement among the Wampanoags in Massachusetts.

Keywords:   John Eliot, Indian Bible, Wôpanâak, indigenous language, Native Americans

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