William Carey (1761–1834) And His Books: The Evangelical Library Annual Lecture Delivered On Monday, June 6, 2011 -- By: Austin R. Walker

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 08:1 (Jan 2011)
Article: William Carey (1761–1834) And His Books: The Evangelical Library Annual Lecture Delivered On Monday, June 6, 2011
Author: Austin R. Walker


William Carey (1761–1834) And His Books:
The Evangelical Library Annual Lecture Delivered On Monday, June 6, 2011

Austin R. Walker

Austin Walker is pastor, along with his son Jeremy, of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley, West Sussex, UK, and author of The Excellent Benjamin Keach, published by Joshua Press.

Writing to John Ryland Jr. (1753–1825) towards the end of 1811 William Carey told his long-standing friend, “I am...more in my element in the translation of the word of God than in any other employment, and now begin to entertain an idea that I may yet live to see this work, compleated in most of the languages in which it has begun.”1 By this time Carey had been working in India for eighteen years.

The translation of the Bible into the many languages of the Indian sub-continent and even further afield became Carey’s lifelong priority. Early in 1793 before he left for India he had met William Ward (1769–1823) for the first time at Dr. John Rippon’s church in London. Ward was from Derby and a printer by trade. He happened to be in London visiting friends. Carey seized the opportunity to unfold to him the desire and purpose of his heart respecting biblical translations. As they parted he laid his hand on Ward’s shoulder and said, “I hope, by God’s blessing, to have the Bible translated and ready for the press in four or five years. You must come and print it for us.”2 Ward joined him in 1799 together with Joshua Marshman (1768–1837). Carey, Ward, and Marshman were to become the well-known ‘Serampore Trio.’

When he sailed for Bengal with his family and with Dr. John Thomas (1757–1800) on the Krӧn Princessa Maria in June 1793 the same priority dictated how he spent his time. He used much of that five month voyage learning Bengali from his missionary colleague. Combining his own knowledge of Hebrew with Thomas’ knowledge of Bengali they began to work on the translation of Genesis. Some five years later in a 1798 letter to his sister Ann Hobson the same priority is reflected:

The principal thing we see is the translation of the Bible into the Bengal language. This is now in considerable forwardness, and I expect will be finished in the next year, if God continues Health, and other requisite abilities: nor do I think that we are entirely without Seals to our Ministry, tho it is a difficult thing to say anything confidently.3

Carey was being somewhat optimistic however, as the New Testament was not completed until 1801 and the Old Testament no...

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