The Indian Bible (1661, 1663, 1680, 1685)

(Copied from a winter 1997 display at the entrance to the Harvard Divinity School Library. --gsk)

First printed in 1661 by Harvard printer, Samuel Green, on Harvard grounds. Records indicate that 2,500 copies of the 1680 edition and 2,000 of the 1685 edition were printed in Indian College.

The first complete Bible to be printed in America between 1659-1663, the Indian Bible was translated into the Natick-Algonquin language called Massachusetts.1 John Eliot was assisted by his Indian teachers John Sassamon, Job Nesutan and Cochenoe. Eliot was encouraged by Harvard's first president, Henry Dunster.

On 21 April 1664, a copy was presented to the King of England, Charles II. Shown here is a reprint of the title page and the first page of the 1663 edition. Original copies are at Houghton Library.

Negonne Oosukkuhwhonk Moses,
ne asoweetamuk
Chap I

1. Weske kutchinik ayum God kusuk kah Ohke.

2. Kah Ohke mo matta kuhkenauunneunkquttinnoo kah monteagunninuo, kah pohkenum woskeche moonoi, kah Nashauanit popomshau woikeche nippekontu.

3. Onk noowau God wequi, kah mo wequai.

4. Kah wunnaumum God wequai neen wunnegen; kah wutchadchanbeponumun God noeu wequai kah noeu pohkenum.

5. Kah wutussowetamun God wequai kusokod, kah pohkenum wutussoweetamun Nukon: kah mo wunnonkooook kah mo mohoompog negonne kusuk.

6. Kah noowau God sepakehtumooudj noeu nippekontu, kah chadchapemooudj nathauweit nippe wutch nippekontu.

7. Kah ayimup God sepakehtamoonk, kah wutchadehabeponumunnap nashaueu nippe agwu, uttiyeu agwu sepakehtamoonk, kah nashaueu nippekontu attiyeu ongkouwe sepakehtamoonk, kah monkonnih.

8. Kah wuttidoweetamun God sepakehtamoonk Kesukquath, kah mo wunnonkooook, kah mo mohtompog nahohtoeu kesukok.

9. Kah noowa God moemooidjnip pe ut agwa kesuk quathkan pasukqunna, kah pahkemoidi nanabpeu, kah monkoninih.

10. Kah wuttisoweetaman God nanabpiohke, kah moeemoonippe wuttissowetamun Kehtoh, & wunnaumun God neen wunnegen.

A Praying Indian attending Harvard

From Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk's 1665 address to Honoratissimi Benefactores, "Most Honored Benefactors," and signed with the 17th c. formula Vestrae Dignitati devotissimus, "I am most devoted to your dignity."

Deus vos delegit esse Patronos nostros, et cum omni sapientia, intimaque Commiseratione vos ornavit, ut nobis Paganis salutiferam opem feratis, qui vitam, progeniemque a Majorirubus nostris ducebamus. Tam animo, quam Corporeque nudi fuimus, et ab omni humanitate alieni fuimus, in deserto huc et illuc variisque erroribus ducti fuimus.

"God has chosen you to be our patrons and has adorned you with all wisdom and deep compassion, so that you might bring a salvation-bringing aid to us pagans, who were conducting our lives and raising our children in accordance with our ancestors. We were as naked in our minds as in our bodies, and we were alien to all humanity; having been led here and there in the desert and with various wanderings we lived."

--translated by Thomas Figueira, Prof. of Classics and Ancient History, Rutgers University

Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk was the first native American to graduate from Harvard (1665). He died of tuberculosis one year later, at age 20. He was Wampanoag, from Martha's Vinyard. His classmate Joel Iacoomes was also Wampanoag from Martha's Vinyard. Both studied in England and were highly respected scholars. Iacoomes died in a shipwreck during a return visit to Boston prior to graduation.


1 Caleb Johnson, who maintains Mayflower Web Pages, has a page, A Small Nomenclator of the Indian Language, that reprints a glossary from William Woods' 1634 book, New England's Prospect.