Author Archive

TS501-2007 Vernacular Scriptures: The History and Impact of the Igbo Bible, 1840-1920

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

PDF Version: The-history-and-impact-of-the-igbo-bible-1840-1920

When in 1841 the Church Missionary Society (CMS) first began work among the Igbo people of what is today Southern Nigeria, they were eager to use translation of the Bible and other materials as a central part of their missionary strategy.  The missionaries, J. F. Schön, a German, and Samuel Crowther, a Yoruba, had already been working with the many Igbo among the freed slaves in Sierra Leone and had carried out some preliminary study of the language and translated various materials into Igbo.  It is surprising then that almost sixty years passed before a major translation of the Igbo Bible was completed, and that the first Igbo Bible to be circulated widely was not published until 1913.  Why did the Igbo Bible take more than seventy years to produce, and what was its eventual impact?