The First Bible Printed in America
On October 28, 1646, in a wigwam in Nonantum (now Newton), missionary John Eliot preached his first sermon to members of the Massachusett tribe in their own language. Sharing the Gospel with the natives was an early aim of the colony.
After fifteen years living among the tribe and studying their conversations, he developed a written language for them. In 1661, Eliot published a New Testament in their Natick-Massachusetts Indian dialect. This New Testament was/is the first New Testament ever to be published in America.
Eliot also published the first full Bible in their language which is/was the first Bible ever to be printed in America.
John Eliot and his native translators, including Job Nesuton, had labored for more than a decade to complete the work. Printers Samuel Green, Marmaduke Johnson, and James Printer spent nearly three years at the press, printing its more than 1,200 pages and finally completing the Bible in 1663.
The first seal of the Massachusetts colony included the picture of a Native American speaking the words “Come and help us” (from Acts 16:9). John Eliot did.
“Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for pm-ing me this morning about the Algonquin Gospel. As you know, this will help me in my pursuit of being a more authentic Warrior and Praying Indian, and I have you to thank for that, my friend.”
Jonathan David Yellowbear, Sokoki/Abenaki Indian Nation #2367
“The Algonquin language BIBLE arrived today in the mail. I am absolutely thrilled to be reading this BIBLE FOR the very first TIME. I plan on doing better. I am planning on being able to incorporate the readings from this with my reenacting persona. Kitchi Wliwinni, Wlinanawalemizi ta Klibmkanni.”
These images are from an original 1661 Algonquin bible. Note the detailed views of tooling and the care taken in the design of the Bible.
Thanks to the The the William L. Clements Library for the images.
This is a photo of Eddie Rector’s powder horn with the Lord’s Prayer in the Algonquian inscribed on it.