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AN UNFINISHED BIBLE TRANSLATION FROM BARBADOS

[Old Testament in Hebrew and English]. Incomplete translation by William James Shrewsbury. Manuscript.
Barbados, 1820-21.

This impressive manuscript, written on the Caribbean island of Barbados by the Methodist missionary William James Shrewsbury (1795–1866), consists of an unpublished original translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew into English. Shrewsbury arrived in Barbados in February, 1820, and began his translation on March 30 of that year. He finished translating Genesis on October 5, 1820; Exodus on February 23, 1821; and Leviticus on May 1, 1821. However, subsequent work proceeded only as far as Numbers 4:11.

Although Shrewsbury was not outspoken in his opposition to slavery, he did preach the equality of all humanity before God. This angered the local slave owners, who feared a rebellion. After Shrewsbury’s chapel was attacked several times during services, the governor of the island refused to provide protection. On October 20, 1823, a mob of slave owners destroyed Shrewsbury’s chapel and injured several members of the congregation; Shrewsbury and his wife were forced to flee by boat to the island of St. Vincent.