Vanished Worlds, Enduring People

The Written Word

John Eliot. Bible. Mamvsse Wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God. Cambridge: Printeuoop nashpe Samuel Green, 1685. [view]

John Eliot (1604-1690), known as the “Apostle to the Indians,” translated into the Natick dialect the first Bible in any language published in North America. He was ably assisted in this effort by several Indians, including Harvard-educated James Printer and the preacher John Nesutan. First issued in 1663, many copies of the original edition were destroyed during King Philip’s War in 1675.

Eliot was also responsible for establishing towns for “Praying Indians,” converts who could live together, free from the influence of local settlers in Massachusetts. Natick was established in 1651, and at least ten others followed. By 1674, the census of “Praying Indians” was 4,000. The towns were largely destroyed during King Philip’s War.

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