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By Hephzibah Israel (auth.)

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It is also the only Indian language that has claimed classical status on par with Sanskrit, a claim that was articulated with much force after the work of several colonial administrators, Protestant missionaries and Tamil scholars in the nineteenth century on Tamil and comparative linguistics. As linguists, several Protestant missionaries contested the theory held until then that Tamil derived largely from Sanskrit and were able, as a result, to present a distinct racial, cultural, and religious origin for the Tamils as separate from those of “Aryan” descent in north India.

From 1813, the British Parliament allowed the Anglican hierarchy to be established in India and several British mission societies were established in South India: of these, the SPG established in 1825, Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1814, the London Missionary Society in 1805, and the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society in 1816 were the most 30 Religious Transactions in Colonial South India prominent in South India. This meant that the task of translating the Bible into Tamil passed from German Pietists into the hands of British Anglican missionaries, although there were exceptions such as Charles T.

That most Protestant Tamils in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries reject taṉittamiḻ in the Bible as an unnecessary politicization of scriptural and devotional language registers is an important indicator of how the relationship between the sacred and the political continue to be viewed in terms of language use in the Tamil context. The Bible in Tamil Translation: A Brief History It is useful to locate the translation history of the Tamil Bible in the different political and social contexts within which each version was produced and, for purposes of convenience, I view this history in terms of three main phases of key Protestant translations of the Bible.

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