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Erasing Native American Religious Traditions: Algonquian Bible

Array ( [0] => ENGL 6330 Spring 2018 [1] => no-show [2] => student exhibit )

What is it to believe in Christ?

--Henry Whitfield, The Light Appearing, 132-3.

John Eliot preaching to the Massachusett


The complex question of whether to continue to reprinting the Bible in the Native people's language or try to teach them English continued to rise.  A few years before Eliot's death in 1690, the debate began to gain momentum.  The Society published one more edition in 1685, publishing only small parts afterwards.  The majority of the Society, including Cotton Mather Puritan minister, argued Anglicizing the Native American's would be more cost-effective.  They believed "the best thing we can do for our Indians is to Anglicize them in all agreeable instances" (14).[6]  The Society concluded the Native Americans could "scarce retain their language, without a tincture of other savage inclinations."[6]  In other words, sharing Christianity with the Native Americans wasn't enough.

[1] Francis, Convers. Life of John Eliot, the Apostle to the Indians. Hilliard, Gray, 1836.

[2] Eliot, John. Promoting and Propagating the Gospel. M.S., 1655.

[3] Tooker, William Wallace. John Eliot's first Indian teacher and interpreter, Cockenoe-de-Long Island. F.P. Harper, 1896.

[4] Baker, David J., and Willy Maley, editors. British Identities and English Renaissance Literature. Cambridge University Press, 2002.

[5] "An Act for the promoting and propagating the Gospel of Jesus Christ in New England". British History Online. University of London & History of Parliament Trust, 2013.

[6] Thorowgood, Thomas. The Eliot Tracts: With Letters from John Eliot to Thomas Thorowgood and Richard Baxter. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003.

Image Credits

Eliot, John. Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe
Up-Biblum God. 1663. Internet Archive Book Images, https://archive.org/stream/mamussewunneetup00elio#page/n5/mode/1up. Accessed March 2018.

Drake, Francis S. John Eliot preaching to the Indians. 1919. Internet Archive Book Images, https://archive.org/stream/indianhistoryfor00drak/indianhistoryfor00drak#page/123/mode/1up. Accessed March 2018.