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.
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
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
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).