Tamil is an ancient Dravidian language, rich in literature and poetry. It now enjoys the classical status of a classical language by an act of legislation in 2004. The Tamil script, commonly known as the Vattezhuthu, originated from the Brahmi script.
The first literature to be ever published, in an Indian language, was ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ in Tamil by the Jesuits, dating as far back as 1578. However, the real effort taken to translate the Bible into Tamil was the German missionary Bartholomew Ziegenbalg in 1706, at Tranquebar. Benjamin Schultze and John Philip Fabricius also extended help in this great effort.
With the founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) at Calcutta in 1811, the onus of publishing of Bibles in Indian languages fell on the shoulders of BFBS. To ensure speedy translation of the Bibles into South Indian Languages, the Madras Auxiliary of the BFBS came into being in 1820. In 1850, the first Tamil Bible was published by the Madras Auxiliary of the BFBS, but the translation failed to meet the expectations of the people. Soon, a revision committee with Henry Bower as the chief translator was set up in 1857. Many scholars came forward to assist, noted among them was the churchman and scholar Robert Coldwell. This translation also was met with stiff opposition especially in Ceylon. The outcome was the publishing of the Union Version in 1871 after carrying out the needed corrections.
This union version displaced all earlier Tamil translations. Periodic updating was carried out by BFBS, as warranted. On India becoming a free country in 1947, BFBS handed over this text to the Bible Society of India (BSI) as the moral heir for Preserving, Sustaining, Preface updating and Publishing the Bible for use by future generations. Thus, the BSI has legally become the sole custodian of the text with accountability to the Churches in India at large.
The BSI - Tamil - O.V. (New Ortho) Bible text may be quoted (in written, visual or electronic form) up to and inclusive of one thousand (1,000) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible nor do the verses quoted account for 50 percent or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted.
The BSI - Tamil - O.V. (New Ortho) Bible text may be quoted for audio use (audio cassettes, CDs, audio television) up to two hundred fifty (250) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible nor do the verses quoted account for 50 percent or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted.
Notice of copyright must appear as follows on the title page or copyright page of printed works quoting from the BSI - Tamil - O.V. (New Ortho) or in a corresponding location when the BSI - Tamil - O.V. (New Ortho) is quoted in other media :
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, BSI - Tamil - O.V. (New Ortho) published by: The Bible Society of India. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
When quotations from the BSI - Tamil - O.V. (New Ortho) are used in non-saleable media, such as church bulletins, orders of service, posters, transparencies, or similar media, a complete copyright notice is not required, but the initials BSI - Tamil - O.V. (New Ortho) must appear at the end of the quotation.
Publication of any commentary or other Bible reference work produced for commercial sale that uses the BSI - Tamil - O.V. (New Ortho) Bible text must include written permission for use of the BSI - Tamil - O.V. (New Ortho) text.
Note: We acknowledge that no Bible translation is perfect or final; but we also know that God uses imperfect and inadequate things to His honour and praise. Hence, the BSI publishing team constantly updates the translated text to take care of the changes that take place in a language. The names of the review scholars, editors, translators etc are available at :
THE ARCHIVES, The Bible Society of India, 206 M.G. Road, Bangalore 560001.
For more information, visit
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