Bibles

The Gospel according to John – John Norton

Date and language: 1818, Mohawk language (digitized by Google).

Translation: Many old and rare bibles are preserved in museums or libraries, spread over the world. Thanks to modern techniques we can read them sometimes page for page on our computers. This is the case for this particular translation of the gospel, written by the apostle John. Who was the translator?

Translator: Because Mohawk is a language of an Indian nation in North-America it follows that the translator must have been someone of Indian origin. His name was John Norton, especially known for his prominent role in the war of 1812 against the American invaders. His birth date is not known but it had to have been between 1760 and 1770. His father was Cherokee and his mother was Scottish. His father was taken by British soldiers as a small boy when the village of his birth was destroyed. So it happened that he arrived over the course of time in Scotland where he later married. Their son John served in the Scottish army after his education was completed. He left the army after two years and travelled as a trader through the region of Ohio where he made many contacts. He became more and more involved with the local Indian people and their way of life. He was adopted by the Mohawks, with Joseph Brant as his uncle. He married a Iroquois woman and became an Indian interpreter and therefore knew the language of the Mohawks perfectly. Because of this background, the British and Foreign Bible Society asked him to translate the gospel of John into the Mohawk language. His work was the first translation in Mohawk, the first publication and the first distribution in a foreign country.

John Norton died around the year 1831.

John Norton

ca 1760/70 - ca. 1830

 

 

Concerning the Mohawk: This domestic people lived in the area which is now the American state of New York. A well-known Iroquois leader was the legendary Hiawatha. Many Mohawks had been involved in building the skyscrapers of New York City at the beginning of the previous century. They proved to be excellent builders at high altitude because they had a good sense of balance and rarely had a fear of heights.

God’s name: Many bible readers know that many New Testament translations in English, originally written in Greek, do not contain the name of God but instead often use 'God' or 'Lord'. It is noteworthy that this gospel, where ever the English translation uses God or Lord, in Mohawk always refers to God’s personal name as Yehovah.


-

 

John chapter 1 verse 1 and 2: In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in [the] beginning with God (New world translation).

 

John chapter 1 verse 6: There arose a man that was sent forth as a representative of God: his name was John (New world translation).

-

 

John chapter 14 verse 1: Did “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. (World English Bible 2002).

 

-

 

John 17:3: This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ (New world translation).

-

 

- top -