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Comenius, Boyle, Oldenburg, and the Translation of the Bible into Turkish

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In the period 1658-67 there were two separate projects to produce a Turkish translation of the Bible. The first, promoted by Comenius in Holland and funded by his patron de Geer, used the services of Levinus Warner in Constantinople; Warner commissioned translations from two dragomans in that city. The second, promoted and partly funded by Robert Boyle, was undertaken by William Seaman in London. Attempts were made (through Henry Oldenburg) to coordinate the two projects, allotting the Old Testament to the former and the New to the latter; but there was little practical cooperation. Seaman's New Testament was published in 1666, but the Dutch-commissioned translation would remain in manuscript for more than 150 years. This article analyses the history of these twin projects and the difficulties that beset them — of which the greatest was the lack of sufficient linguistic expertise.


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Affiliations: 1: All Souls College, Oxford OX1 4AL, UK


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