Bible translations into Malayalam

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Translations of the Bible into Malayalam began from 1806, and have been to some extent influential on the development of the modern language.[1]


The first attempt to translate the bible into Malayalam was done by Pulikkottil Ittoop (Joseph) Katthanar (later enthroned as the Malankara Metropolitan H.H. Joseph Mar Dionysius) and Kayamkulam Philipose Ramban with the support of Mor Dionatius the Great and Rev. Claudius Buchanan. Buchanan, a missionary who visited Kerala in the early 19th century, persuaded church leaders to translate the manuscripts into Malayalam and gave guidance to local scholars. At that time Syriac was the liturgical language of Christians in Kerala. Pulikkottil Ittoop (Joseph) Katthanar and Kayamkulam Philippose Ramban who were Malankara Syrian Christian monks initially translated few books of the Holy Bible from Syriac to Malayalam. They were assisted by Timapah Pillay in language editing. Using the Tamil version translated by Johann Philipp Fabricius, they made a Malayalam copy. Bible Society of India (then an Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society) paid for 500 copies to be printed in Bombay in 1811. Timapah completed the New Testament in 1813, but this was found to include vocabulary known only to the Syriac Christian community and not to the general Malayalee population.[2] Now this Bible is known as the Ramban Bible.

After the Ramban Bible, it was Benjamin Bailey who continued the effort to translate the Bible into Malayalam and finally succeeded in accomplishing a complete translation. His translation of the New Testament was finished and published in 1829 and the Old Testament followed in 1841.

Hermann Gundert updated Bailey's version and produced the first Malayalam-English dictionary (1872).[3][4][5] Other sources record that a Phillipose Rampan (c. 1780-1850) also translated parts of the Bible into Malayalam.[6]

Modern versions[edit]


The Bible Society of India Kerala Auxiliary (established 1956) has made minor revisions to the Malayalam Old Version in 1910. A new Malayalam Common Language Bible project is ongoing.

Biblica has translated and published the New India Bible Version (NIBV) in Malayalam which was released in 1997. See the link below for more information.

"Malayalam Bible". Biblica. 

The World Bible Translation Center India provides the Easy-to-Read Version. See the link below for more information.

"Downloads". World Bible Translation Center. 


In 1967 the Pastoral Orientation Center of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council started a new translation of the Bible[7] and completed it by 1981. This bible is also known as the POC Bible.

Syriac Orthodox[edit]

The Syriac Orthodox Church uses the Peshitta version as its official bible and hence all the translations that were done within the church where that of the Peshitta.

Ramban Bible[edit]

The first partial bible translation into Malayalam was done by Pulikkottil Ittoop (Joseph) Katthanar (later enthroned as the Malankara Metropolitan H.H. Joseph Mar Dionysius) and Kayamkulam Philipose Ramban (who were Syriac monks) in 1811 under the direction of the then Malankara Metropolitan Mor Dionysius. It was printed at Bombay Courier press with the help of the British missionaries especially Rev. Claudius Buchanan, who visited Kerala in the early 19th century and gave guidance to local scholars for translations. The translation was of the four gospels alone.

Syriac Orthodox Bible Society and Vishudha Grandham[edit]

The Syriac Orthodox Bible Society of India published the translation of the Syriac Pesitta bible into Malayalam adopting a rather direct translation of the term "Holy Bible" as "Vishuddha Grandham" (വിശുദ്ധ ഗ്രന്ഥം). The Translation was made by the famous Syriac scholar Kaniyamparambil Kurian Cor Episcopa with the help of some priests. In 2015, this translation was made available online.[8] This bible is used as the official Malayalam bible of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church.

Other Works[edit]

Vishudha Sathyavedapusthakom[edit]

The Vishudha Sathyavedapusthakom, the translation of the Holy Bible by Dr. Mathews Vergis in modern Malayalam language was released on 2000.

Some features found in the Vishudha Sathyavedapusthakom include statistics about people, places and events in the Bible, subtitle indexes, commentary of selected verses, overview of chapters, brief comparative study of people, places, and events recorded in the Bible, commentary on milestones in Jesus' life as recorded in the Gospels, colored photographs on Biblical archaeology and an index of Jesus' parables and miracles. The Bible is available in pocket, worship and special formatted editions printed on thin pages.

New World Translation[edit]

In 2009, the New Testament of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures was released in Malayalam by Jehovah's Witnesses.[9] The full version was released in 2016. Use of commonly used words instead of outdated expressions, extensive cross references, topic overview of Bible books, footnotes on alternative renderings, bible word indexes and glossary pertaining to Bible lands on measures and timelines are some features of this translation. Digital version of the Bible is available in PDF and electronic formats for tablet and mobile devices via the free JW Library app available in app stores. [10]

Online versions[edit]

The Complete Malayalam Bible in Unicode was published online on 14 August 2004. By Nishad H. Kaippally.

The POC Bible released online and mobile versions for Android and iPhone

Vishuddha Grandham of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church was released online in 2015.

New World Translation of Holy Scriptures is available online.

Audio version[edit]

A free complete audio version of the Syriac Orthodox Peshitta Bible was released online in 2015 [].

Usage of different versions in churches[edit]

Nearly all churches in Kerala use Bibles in Malayalam; they differ in which version they were translated from and therefore which books they include.

Saint Thomas Christians, Anglican, Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches use the Bible Society of India version.

Saint Thomas Christians[edit]

The Saint Thomas Christians may have used the Peshitta Bible at church services until the sixteenth century conflict and church divisions. Today the different Saint Thomas Christian churches use different Bibles depending on their affiliation. Except for Protestants, all Christians use the "deuterocanonicals", though they vary on which ones they include.

The Peshitta (Syriac Bible) translations by Andumalil Mani Kathanar and Fr. Mathew Uppani (Kottayam, 1997) are popular in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.

The Peshitta is also used by the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The Peshitta was translated into Malayalam in 1811 partially by Pulikkottil Ittoop (Joseph)Kathanar (later enthroned as the Malankara Metropolitan H.H. Joseph Mar Dionysius) and Kayamkulam Ramban. A separate translation of the New Testament was done by Konatt Rev. Abraham. A complete translation was made in 1991 by Kurian Corepiscopa of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church and was published by the Syriac Orthodox Bible Society of India (SOBSI).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: devraj to jyoti Amaresh Datta, Sahitya Akademi (New Delhi, Inde) - 1988- Page 1660 "The first Malayalam edition of the Bible was published in 1811 [typo 1841], and its first translation was done by Benjamin Bailey in 1829. Modern Malayalam has been to some extent influenced by the Bible. During the latter part of the 19th century, Kerala, ..."
  2. ^ Bagster, Samuel (1848). The Bible of every land, a history of the sacred Scriptures. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons. p. 124. 
  3. ^ Dr. Hermann Gundert and Malayalam language Albrecht Frenz, Skar̲iyā Sakkar̲iya - 1993 "5.4.2 Looking back at various early translations of the Bible in Malayalam one may not hesitate to acknowledge the great literary quality of Gundert's translation. He has rendered Hebrew poetry giving consideration to the rhythm of ..."
  4. ^ Maritime Malabar and the Europeans, 1500-1962 K. S. Mathew, Université de Lyon II. Institut de recherche et d'intervention en sciences humaines - 2003 "On 18 September 1840, Gundert sent the German translation of his first Malayalam Bible tract, Genesis 1-11, to Basle, but for a long time did not get a sanctioning reply from there for printing it. Luckily Gundert had it printed and ..."
  5. ^ The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature (Volume Two) (Devraj To Jyoti): Volume 2 - Page 1660 Amaresh Datta - 2006 "Later, others like Robert Drummond and H. Gundert followed the trend. Gundert's Malayalam bhasha vyakaranam (1851) ... The first Malayalam edition of the Bible was published in 1811,[typo 1841?] and its first translation was done by Benjamin Bailey ..."
  6. ^ History of Malayalam literature R. Leela Devi - 1977 ... who accompanied Kariattil to Rome wrote the first prose travelogue Varthamana Pusthakam, in malayalam. His kristhyanukaranam is a translation of Imitation of Christ. Phillipose Rampan and Pulikkottil Ittoop Ramban (1740 - 1816) translated Bible into Malayalam.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Holy Bible in Malayalam online
  9. ^ "WatchTower publications", Watchtower publications Index(1986-2011)
  10. ^ Link to New World Translation Malayalam Bible online

External links[edit]

Online Bibles

Bible Societies