The earliest extant translation of Scripture into Burmese is Saint Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, by Roman Catholic missionary Giovanni Maria Percoto (1776). The Gospel of Matthew was translated by British Baptist missionary James Chater (1812) and Adoniram Judson (1817), with Judson later greatly revising his translation (1832). Analysis of the four different Burmese versions of the Matthean Lord’s Prayer reveals how Percoto provided key terminology and phraseology for Chater and Judson. Chater’s translation reveals weaknesses typical of the William Carey/Serampore Bible translations. Judson’s 1817 translation contains weaknesses also seen in Chater’s work, but by 1832 these weaknesses had been addressed, resulting in a much-improved translation that is virtually the same as Judson’s final Bible translation (1840) that is widely used in Myanmar today. The research shows how the translation of the Bible into Burmese was a multigenerational process.
Keywords: Gospel of Matthew, Lord’s Prayer; Burmese, Bible translation, Adoniram Judson, James Chater, Giovanni Maria Percoto.