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Many are surprised to discover that the first Bible printed in America was not in English, or any other European language, but an Algonquin Indian Bible in the Natick dialect published between 1660 and 1663 by the missionary John Eliot. The first English language Bible printed in America would not be produced until 1781. Eliot's Bible did much more than bring the Gospel to one of the native tribes in America; it also gave them literacy. Eliot had to first reduce the spoken language to print and then translate the English Bible into the Algonquin language. Eliot agreed to learn the Algonquin spoken language, they agreed to learn the western world's phonetic alphabet, and then Eliot translated the Bible into their native tongue phonetically using the English alphabet. Pages from the Eliot Algonquin Bible remain some of the most rare and historically important artifacts of our American heritage. They are also among the earliest of all American printings.

Item Description

The Centennial Library page from an Eliot Algonquin Indian Bible was printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Samuel Green and Marmaduke Johnson between 1660 and 1663. The Bible was translated by John Eliot into the Natick dialect of the Algonquin indians living in Massachusetts and along part of the east coast of New England. The printing was done at what is now the site of Harvard University, near Boston, only 40 years after the Pilgrims landed on the continent in 1620. The text from the Bible on these two pages is from Ezekiel 25:1 to 27:12.


Biblical Heritage Gallery, Cedarville University, Eliot Bible