Bible translations into Scottish Gaelic

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The Bible in Scottish Gaelic (Am Bìoball Gàidhlig) was first published in 1801. Prior to this, Gaels in Scotland had used Bible translations into Irish.

The Book of Common Order was translated into Scottish Gaelic by Séon Carsuel (John Carswell), Bishop of the Isles, and printed in 1567. This is considered the first printed book in Scottish Gaelic though the language resembles classical Irish.[1] Dugald Campbell of Knapdale produced a manuscript translation of the Old Testament in 1673, but it was never published.[2] James Kirkwood (1650-1709) promoted Gaelic education and attempted to provide a version of William Bedell's Bible translations into Irish, edited by his friend Robert Kirk (1644–1692), Episcopal minister of Balquhidder and later of Aberfoyle, author of The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies, which failed, though he did succeed in publishing a Psalter in Gaelic (1684).[3][4]

It was not until after the final defeat of the Jacobite warriors at Culloden in 1746, that the Scottish branch of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge began serious work on a published Bible in Scottish Gaelic and initiated a translation project in 1755.[5] The result of this was the New Testament of James Stuart (1701-1789), minister of Killin,[6] and poet Dugald Buchanan, published in 1767.[7] Stuart worked from the Greek, Buchanan improved the Gaelic.[8] This was followed in 1801 by a full Bible translation with an Old Testament largely by Stuart's son John Stuart of Luss.[9][10]


  1. ^ Felicity Heal Reformation in Britain and Ireland - Page 282 2005 "In Irish the catechism long preceded the printing of the New Testament, while in Scottish Gaelic the Form of Common Order was printed in 1567, the full Bible not until 1801. Manx Gaelic had no Bible until the eighteenth century:"
  2. ^ Adam Fox, Daniel R. Woolf -The spoken word: oral culture in Britain, 1500-1850 Page 94 2002 "TRANSLATING THE BIBLE The translation of the Bible into Scottish Gaelic was long delayed. As early as 1567, John Carswell recognized the need for a printed Gaelic ..."
  3. ^ Tony Claydon, Ian McBride - Protestantism and National Identity: Britain and Ireland Page 176 2007 "The failure of Kirkwood's scheme, and in particular of the Scottish Gaelic bible, which had been adapted from the original Irish translation by Kirkwood's friend Robert Kirk, has often been attributed to the incompatibility of Irish and ."
  4. ^ William Ferguson - The Identity of the Scottish Nation: An Historic Quest Page 243 1998 "Here it is salutary to recall the difficulties that Robert Kirk had experienced when turning the Irish Bible into Scottish Gaelic. Those difficulties were real and by no means imaginary or due to fastidious pedantry on Kirk's part."
  5. ^ Margaret Szasz -Scottish Highlanders and Native Americans: indigenous education Page 100 2007 "Not until 1746, after the final defeat of the Jacobite warriors at Culloden, whose cause Alasdair had enthusiastically adopted, did the society begin to weigh the advantages of publishing a Bible translated into Scottish Gaelic."
  6. ^ Gilbert Foster, Language and poverty: the persistence of Scottish Gaelic Memorial University of Newfoundland. Institute of Social and Economic Research, 1988 "James Stuart of Killin was born in 1701 and died in the parish in 1789 (Scott, 1923, vol. 4, pp. 184-185)."
  7. ^ The Cambridge History of the BibleVolume 3 - Page 173 ed. S. L. Greenslade - 1975 "Copies of the Irish Bible, 1681-90, were distributed in the Highlands. A fresh version of the New Testament into Gaelic was made, from the Greek, by James Stuart, minister of Killin, and published in 1767 by the Scottish Society for ..."
  8. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Richard D. Jackson, ‘Buchanan, Dugald (1716–1768)’, first published 2004, 933 words
  9. ^ Donald E. Meek LANGUAGE AND STYLE IN THE SCOTTISH GAELIC BIBLE (1767-1807) in Scottish language Issues 9-12 Association for Scottish Literary Studies - 1990 "In 1801 the Gaelic speakers of Scotland were given their own translation of the Bible. The project to provide a Scottish Gaelic Bible had been initiated in 1755 ..."
  10. ^ Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia Page 208 ed. John Thomas Koch - 2006 "Progress on the project of translating the Bible into Scottish Gaelic was made only when the Scottish Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) changed its strategy of civilizing the Highlands through the teaching of "


  • See also Scottish Gaelic Wikipedia article "Bible" gd:Bìoball