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Metadata for text 158
No. words in text94398
Title Leanmhuin Chriosd, ann Ceithear Leabhraichean: sgriobhta ann Ladoin le Tomais a Cempis: air ur eider-theangacha’ gu Gaoilig Albannach le R..... M...... M.A.I.S.
Author (‘a Cempis, Tomais’)
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1785
Date Of Language 18th c.
Publisher n. pub.
Place Published Edinburgh
Volume N/A
Location National and academic libraries
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Perthshire
Register Religion, Prose
Alternative Author Name Thomas à Kempis
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 15cm x 9.5cm
Short Title Leanmhuin Chriosd
Reference Details NLS: BCL.C2266
Number Of Pages xii, 244
Gaelic Text By Menzies, Robert
Illustrator N/A
Social Context This text is a translation of The Imitation of Christ, which was first published in Latin in the early 15th century, and is generally attributed to Thomas à Kempis, although his authorship has been disputed. Thomas à Kempis, or Thomas Hemerken, was born in Kempen in Germany in 1380. He entered holy orders and spent a large part of his life at the Augustinian convent of Mount Saint Agnes, near Zowelle. His brother was a prior there, and Thomas himself was made subprior in 1429. Thomas spent much of his life at the convent reading, writing, and making copies of the Bible. All of his writings were devotional, and he wrote a large number of books, including The Imitation of Christ (his most famous work) and Vera Sapientia or True Wisdom.

The Imitation of Christ is one of the most influential Christian books of all time, and may be the most widely read spiritual book in the Christian tradition, after the Bible. The book is divided into four parts, each of which deals with a different aspect of Christian life, and together they advise the reader on the best way to live a Christian life. As the title of the book suggests, the author advocates looking to Christ as the best example to follow. Although the book was written by a monk for his fellow monks, all of whom followed a monastic life, many lay people likewise find great value in its teachings. The introduction to the 1954 Penguin Classic edition claims that ‘Thomas’s theme is the love, mercy, and holiness of God; with vivid clarity he shows man’s complete dependence on, and need of, God, and the empty futility of life lived apart from its only source of true Life and Light: he stirs us to seek our own good and lasting happiness in the knowledge and service of God’ (p. 11).

The translator of this work was Robert Menzies from Aberfeldy. Menzies was a Roman Catholic priest whose floruit may be placed towards the end of the eighteenth century. He also translated the Catholic Catechism of Christian Doctrine (Aithghearradh na teagaisg Chriosduidh), which was published in Gaelic in 1781.
Contents This volume opens with Ann Roi-raite (p. iii), commending the book to the reader. This is followed by the Clar-chumail (pp. v-xii). The four parts of this volume are as follows:

Leabhar I (pp. 1-50): 25 chapters giving ‘Counsels on the Spiritual Life’, in which ‘Thomas seeks firstly to wean the soul from preoccupation with solely material interests, successes and failures, and from dependence on its fellows, and to set before it the Christian teaching on life, on human nature, and on its essential need of God. He shows how ..... we may .... enter upon the way of purgation, which is the first stage of the soul’s progress toward its divinely appointed destiny of union with God’ (1954 English edition, p. 14).

Leabhar II (pp. 51-79): 12 chapters giving ‘Counsels on the Inner Life’, detailing the second stage of the spiritual journey, in which ‘the disciple, having made some progress in self-conquest, is gradually illumined by the divine light of the knowledge of God. Here Thomas sets forth the Christian standards of value, spiritual and material’ (1954 English edition, p. 15).

Leabhar III (pp. 80-198): 59 chapters ‘On Inward Consolation’, in which ‘Christ calls on the disciple to seek Him alone, and shows him the way of union and true peace’. The disciple is ‘shown how, by the light of grace, he can gradually win free from the entanglements of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and come freely to Christ’ (English edition, p. 16).

Leabhar IV (pp. 199-243): 18 chapters ‘On the Blessed Sacrament’, in which Thomas deals with Holy Communion, including not only the practical details, but also the theological significance and historical background to the Sacrament of Communion (1954 English edition, p. 17).

The volume ends with Mearrachdan an Clo-bhualai’ (p. 244).
Language This text is full of the terms and expressions of religion throughout. It is an important source for the Gaelic terminology of the Catholic Church.

Book I gives advice on how to free oneself from the constraints of a solely material existence and work towards embracing the religious life. The first chapter is entitled Air leanmhuin Chriosd, agus Di-mheasa’ uile Dhiamhaoineasan an t Saoghail (pp. 1-2). It begins: ‘An ti a ’ta ’g am’ leantuin se, cha ’n imeich e ann dorchadas: deirse an Tighearna. ’Siad so briathra Chriosd, leis an comhairleichear sinn, ma ’s aill lein do rirea’, bhith air ar soilleireacha’, agus air ar saora’ o gach doille cridhe; gur eigin dhuinn a bheatha, is a bheusan leanachd. Uime sin, se ’r mor ghnothach smuaineacha’ air beatha Josa Chriosd’ (p. 1).

Other chapters in Book I include Air Seachna Chaidearas ro mhor (p. 11), Air seasamh an aghai Bhuairean (p. 17), Air am Bheatha Mhanacharach (p. 24), and Air Breathanas agus Piantan nam Peaca (p. 42). The first of these begins: ‘Na fosgail do chridhe do gach uile duine; ach dean do ghnothach ri duine glioc, agus air am bheil eagal Dea; na bithea’ an oig agus na coimheich agad ach tearc’ na do chuideachd. Cuid ris am bheartach na bith mar fhear-meadail; agus do d’ dheoin na cuir thu fein lathair nam mor-fhear; cum connaltra marrais an iriseal, agus an neo-lochdach, marrais an chrabhach agus an duine dhiadhai, agus lamhaich na nithe, a ’ta chum togail suas na naomhachd’ (p. 11).

Book II begins with Air Giulan an Leth-Stigh, followed by Air Foi-gheillea’ Umhal, which contains this advice: ‘Na gabh go trom e, co neach ata leat ’no ’na d’ aghai se, ach dean so, agus thug an aire air, gu’m bith Dia maille ruit anns gach ni; a ’ta thu deanamh. Bithea’ deagh choguis agad, agus dionai’ Dia thu go maith’ (pp. 54-55). Other chapters in Book II include Air an Duine Mhath Shio-chainteach (p. 55), Air Gairdeachas na Deagh Choguis (p. 60), and Air Slighe Rioghal Chrain-cheusai (p. 73), which begins: ‘Measar le iomad neach, gur cruaidhe an ra’ so; diult thu fein, tog do chran-ceusai’, agus lean Iosa. Ach bithi’ se moran na’s cruaidhe am focul deireanach ud chluintin. Imeicheibh uam, sibh se a ’ta malluichte gu teine siorrui’. Oir iadsan anois a ’ta cluintin go toileach, agus a ’ta leantuin briathair an chrain-cheusai’; ann sin ni gabh iad eagal a’ cluintin an damnai’ shiorrui’’ (p. 73).

In Book III, ‘Christ calls on the disciple to seek Him alone, and shows him the way of union and true peace’ (1954 English edition, p. 15). This demonstration takes the form of a dialogue, between the disciple and Christ, which runs throughout the course of Book III. Unfortunately, the text in this volume is not laid out as a dialogue, and consequently it can take careful reading of each paragraph to determine whether it is Christ or the disciple that is speaking. The dialogue form of this Book is easily seen in Chapter III, which is entitled Gu bheil Focuil Dea re ’m bhith air an eisdeachd maille ri Irisealachd; agus gur lionor Iadsan nach ’eil ’g an co’romacha’ sa. This chapter begins: ‘Eisd mo bhriathairean, mhic, briathairean ro mhileis, a’ta dol go fad thaireis air ionsacha’ uile nam Mian-eolasoir agus daoine glioc an ’t saoghail. ’Se spiorad agus beatha mo bhriathran sa, …’ (p. 83). The next paragraph begins: ‘Agus thuairt mise, gur beannaichte an duine a dh ionsaicheas tu o Thighearna! agus d’ an teagaisg thu do lagh; …’ (p. 83); and the following paragraph begins: ‘Theagaisg mise, deir an Tighearna, na Faidhean o thoiseach, agus gus so, ni bheil mis’ ag sgurachd labhara’ ris gach aon. Ach ata moran sluaigh bothar do ’m ghuth, agus cruai’ ann cridhe’ (p. 83). The next two paragraphs are likewise spoken by Christ. At the end of this Chapter a prayer entitled Urnuidh, chum Gras an Chraibh iarra’ is given (p. 85). It begins: ‘O Thighearna mo Dhia! is tu m’ uile mhath; agus creud e mise, gu bithea’ chridhe agam labhairt ruit. Is mise d’ oglaoch ro bhochd, agus an cnuimh beag suarach, moran na’s truaidhe agus na’s tarchuisneiche, na’s aithne’ dhamh, agus na bheil chridhe agam a ra’’ (p. 85). Many of the chapters in Book III end thus, with a prayer.

Book IV deals with the sacrament of Holy Communion. It is prefaced by a paragraph entitled Guth Chriosd, which begins: ‘Thigeibh a m’ionnsui’ se uile a’ta re saothair, agus fo throm-eulaich, agus bheir mise fois dhuibh. An t aran a bheir mise uam, is e m’ fheoil e, a bheir mise airson beatha an domhuin; gabhaibh, itheibh; se so mo Chorpsa, a’ta air a bhrisea’ air bhur son sa’ (p. 199). All the following chapters in Book IV are headed Guth an Deisciobuil, and they certainly appear to be spoken by the disciple. By contrast, Chapters V, VII, VIII, X, XII, XV and XVIII are assigned to Christ in the twentieth-century English language editions consulted. The Chapters in Book IV include: Cia mor an t Urram leis am bheil Criosd re gabhail (Ch. I, pp. 199-205); Air Feothas an t Sacramaid, agus air an Inmhe Shagairteach (Ch. V, pp. 214-15); and Cha’ n’ eil an Commanachd naomh re bhith air fhagail gu furasda (Ch. X, pp. 223-26). The last chapter is entitled Ni bu choir do’n Duine bhith na Ransuicheor mian-sheallach ’san t Sacramaid, ach mar Fhear-leanmhuin iriseal Chriosd ag toirt a Thuigse fo Smachd do Chreideamh naomh (p. 241-43). It begins: ‘Is eigin dhuit an aire thoirt air ceusnacha’ aireoch, agus neo-tharbhach asteach ’san t sacramaid ro dhoimhean so, ma’s aill leat gan bhith air do shluga’ suas ann doimhneachd an amharais. An ti a’ta na ransaicheor air moralachd, antromaichear e le gloir. Tha Dia comasach air tuille obair dheanamh na ’s urruin an duine thuigsin’ (p. 241).
Orthography The orthography of this text shows many features characteristic of late eighteenth-century religious texts, but also many idiosyncratic features. Noteworthy features include the following. (1) The singular definite article is regularly written an or am before lenited consonants, e.g. air an chrioch (p. 42), ris am bheartach (p. 11); and it is sometimes written ann before unlenited consonants, e.g. Ann Roi-raite (p. iii), as is the preposition an ‘in’, e.g. ann dorchadas (p. 1). (2) The preposition a(g) is always written ag before verbal nouns, e.g. ag sgurachd (p. 80). (3) The verbal endings -(e)adh and -(a)idh are written -(e)a’ and -(a)i’, e.g. diulta’ (p. 140), gabhai’ (p. 81). (4) The negative particle is regularly ni rather than cha, e.g. ni bheil mis’ (p. 80). (5) The older form of the verb tha ‘is’ is usual, e.g. a'ta (p. 80), ataim (p. 221), the older deir for their ‘says’ (p. 83), and the older subject pronouns se ‘he’ etc. are used. This text often shows uncertainty as to the spelling of l/ll, n/nn and r/rr; of dh/gh and bh/mh, as do other texts of this period. There are also some curious spellings of vowels in unstressed syllables, e.g. smuaineich (p. 81), ransaicheor (p. 241). In some places the translator has introduced original renderings such as Clar-chumail for ‘Contents’ (p. v). While some of the spellings may reflect the writer’s form of Gaelic, e.g. Dun-Aodain for ‘Edinburgh’ on the Title-page, the general intention of the writer is to provide a suitably dignified Gaelic text. Recognisably vernacular usages and expressions are therefore scarce; a possible example is the way in which the particle a of the ‘infinitive’ is sometimes omitted, e.g. tuille obair dheanamh (p. 241).
Edition First edition. A new translation by Eoghann Mac Eachainn (another Roman Catholic priest) was published in Perth in 1836.
Other Sources
Further Reading à Kempis, Thomas, The Imitation of Christ, a New Translation by Leo Sherley-Price, Penguin Classics. 1954.
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