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Metadata for text 173
No. words in text305682
Title Tiomnadh Nuadh ar Tighearna agus ar Slanuigh-Fhir Ios Criosd. Eidir-theangaicht’ o’n Ghreugais chum Gaidhlig Albannaich. Maille re Seòlannaibh Aith-ghearra chum a’ Chán’ain sin a Leughadh
Author N/A (Translated work)
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1767
Date Of Language 18th c.
Publisher Balfour, Auld, and Smellie
Place Published Edinburgh (Dun-Eudain)
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 N/A
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 21cm x 13cm
Short Title Tiomnadh Nuadh
Reference Details NLS: L.38.d
Number Of Pages No page numbers.
Gaelic Text By Rev. James Stuart
Illustrator N/A
Social Context Compare the Social Context section of the Old Testament (Text 160).

This was the first substantially Scottish Gaelic translation of the New Testament. In 1603, the New Testament was published in Irish. A second edition, prepared by Bishop O’Donnell, was published in 1681. The Old Testament was translated into Irish by William Bedell, Bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh, and was published in 1685-86. 200 copies of the Old Testament, and a number of copies of the New Testament, were imported to Scotland by Episcopalian minister James Kirkwood, to be distributed among Highland parishes. In 1690, Robert Kirk, minister of Balquhidder and later Aberfoyle, published an edition consisting of O’Donnell’s New Testament and Bedell’s Old Testament in Roman script. He spent eight months in London, supervising its printing, and he also produced a short vocabulary, of 464 words, to accompany the new publication. According to Donald Meek (1990, p. 2), ‘‘Kirk’s Bible’ was acceptable to Scottish Gaelic speakers, at least with modifications, but it was still not enough to satisfy those who thought that a Scottish Gaelic Bible was required’.

In 1754, another edition of the Irish New Testament was published in Glasgow by John Orr, once again for the use of the Highlanders. In 1755, the SSPCK initiated a plan to provide Scottish Gaels with a Bible in their own tongue. They first of all asked Rev. Alexander MacFarlane of Arrochar to translate the work. Nothing came of this, however, and the Society eventually entrusted the work to Rev. James Stuart of Killin. This time the appointment was successful. Rev. James Stuart completed the translation of the New Testament in 1765, and the text was set and printed – overseen by Dugald Buchanan – in 1766 and 1767. (See Meek 2015, pp. 28-36, for Buchanan’s role.)

The translation was serviceable, but not universally welcomed, because many ministers preferred to translate the Bible themselves. According to Meek (in Thomson 1994, p. 23), ‘The translators had used a vocabulary and style that was significantly different from that of contemporary Gaelic. They tended to follow Kirk’s Bible, modifying it where it diverged greatly from vernacular Gaelic (for example, in the verb system). Thus the new translation was really an adaptation of an existing version in a related language, the overall style being closer to the older Classical language once shared by Ireland and Gaelic Scotland.’

The following information about James Stuart has been taken from the Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, Vol. IV (p. 185). He was born in 1701. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Dunblane in 1733 and became assistant minister at Weem. He was ordained in 1737, and in that year he became minister at Killin. He remained in that post until his death in 1789. In 1742, Stuart married Elizabeth Drummond, and they had five sons and two daughters. Their eldest son, John, was a noted botanist, who spent many years as minister of Luss. He also translated the first three books of the Old Testament into Gaelic (see Text 160). Stuart’s third son, Patrick, succeeded his father as minister of Killin, and his youngest daughter, Catherine, married James McLagan, minister, folklorist, and compiler of the McLagan Manuscripts.
Contents This text opens with An Soisgeul do reir Mhatha (Caib. I – XXVII), and is followed by An Soisgeul do reir Mharcuis (Caib. I – XXIV), An Soisgeul do reir Lucais (Caib. I – XXIV), and An Soigeul do reir Eoin (Caib. I – XXI). The Gospels are followed by Gniomhartha nan Abstol (Caib. I – XXVIII), which in turn is followed by the twenty-one Epistles of the Apostles, and Taisbeanadh Eoin an Diadhair (I – XXII). There is a short introduction, in italics, at the beginning of each chapter. There are no page numbers in the main body of the text.

This volume concludes with a section entitled Rules for Reading the Gaelic Language (pp. 1-9), which contains information on pronunciation and orthography. There are separate sub-sections on vowels, diphthongs, triphthongs, and consonants. Pride of place is given to a versified form of the ‘broad to broad’ rule: Leathan re leathan, \ is caol re caol: \ Leughar no sgriobhar \ Gach focal san t saogh’l (p. 1).
Language This text is a primary source of Biblical vocabulary and of the Biblical register of language. Meek has pointed out (1990, p. 5), that, like the Gaelic Old Testament, the translation of the New Testament seems ‘concise’ and ‘business-like’ by comparison with Carswell’s Book of Common Order. However, the Gaelic of the New Testament, which was created first, is more formal and linguistically conservative than that of the Old Testament. For example, Lucas, Caib. V, begins: ‘Agus tharladh, ’n uair a bha ’m pobull a’ dlú’-theannadh air, chum focal De eisteachd, gu’n do sheas eisean làimh re loch’ Ghenesaret, \ 2 Agus chunnaic è dà luing ’n an seasamh re taoibh an lochaidh: ach bha na h iasgairean air dol amach asda, agus a’ nigheadh an lionta. \ 3 Agus air dha dol a steach do aon do na longaibh bu le Simon, dh’iarr è air dol amach beagan o thìr: agus air suidhe dha theagaisg è ’n sluagh as an luing. \ 4 ’Noise ’n uair a sguir è do labhairt, a dubhairt sè re Simon, Cuir amach chum na doimhneachd, agus leigibh sios bhur lionta chum tarruing. \ 5 Agus fhreagair Simon, agus a dubhairt sè ris, A mhaighisdir, shaothraich sinn feadh na h oidhch’ uile, agus nìor ghlac sinn ni sam bith: ach air t fhocal-sa leigidh mi sios an lion’.

The high-register expressions in this passage include the temporal phrases air dha dol a steach and air suidhe dha, the dative plural form and the copula construction in do na longaibh bu le Simon, the unreduced preposition do in sguir è do labhairt, and the ‘Classical’ verb-form a[-]dubhairt sè ris. The influence of the Irish Bible can also be seen in nior ghlac sinn (quoted above), and Cia deacrach dhoibhsin, where a footnote glosses deacrach dhoibhsin as cruaidh orra san (Lucas XVIII). Footnotes explaining obscure or potentially misleading words, including Irishisms, can be found scattered throughout this volume, e.g.: tachdar is glossed àireamh (Lucas V); leabaichean is glossed àiteacha suidh’ (Marc VII); loth’ ’n a fochair is glossed searrach maille ria (Matha XXI), and a’ spaisdeireachd is glossed ag imtheachd (Eoin I).
Orthography The Gaelic New Testament saw the culmination of serious attempts to regularise and stabilise Scottish Gaelic orthography; it set the standard for many years to come. Both the grave and the acute accent are in regular use; occasionally a circumflex accent appears, e.g.: a-rîs (Romh. XV).
Edition First edition. A large number of editions have since been published, including that of 1802, which contained the Old and the New Testament together for the first time.
Other Sources
Further Reading MacIntyre, Rev. Neil, ‘Outlines of Lectures on the Bible – Part 6 The Gaelic Bible’, Free Presbyterian Magazine, June 1998 (Extracted from The Free Presbyterian Magazine, 9 (1904-5)).
MacKenzie, Rev. Donald W. ‘The Worthy Translator – How the Scottish Gaels got the Scriptures in their own tongue’, TGSI, 57 (1990-92), 168-202.
Meek, Donald E., ‘Language and Style in the Scottish Gaelic Bible (1767-1807)’, Scottish Language, 9 (1990), 1-16.
Meek, Donald E., Laoidhean Spioradail Dhùghaill Bhochanain (Glasgow, 2015: Scottish Gaelic Texts Society.
Scott, Hew, Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, Vol. IV. (Edinburgh, 1923: Oliver and Boyd), 185.
Thomson, Derick S., ed., The Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Glasgow, 1994: Gairm).
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, retrieved from
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