Annie Rachel RoysonAug 31, 2023
Texts, Traditions, and Sacredness
Cultural Translation in Kristapurana
Annie Rachel Royson's book Texts, Traditions, and Sacredness: Cultural Translation in Kristapurana (Routledge, 2023) presents a critical reading of Kristapurāṇa, the first South Asian retelling of the Bible. In 1579, Thomas Stephens (1549-1619), a young Jesuit priest, arrived in Goa with the aim of preaching Christianity to the local subjects of the Portuguese colony. Kristapurāṇa (1616), a sweeping narrative with 10,962 verses, is his epic poetic retelling of the Christian Bible in the Marathi language. This fascinating text, which first appeared in Roman script, is also one of the earliest printed works in the subcontinent. Kristapurāṇa translated the entire biblical narrative into Marathi a century before Bible translation into South Asian languages began in earnest in Protestant missions.
This book contributes to an understanding of translation as it was practiced in South Asia through its study of genre, landscapes, and cultural translation in Kristapurāṇa, while also retelling a history of sacred texts and biblical narratives in the region. It examines this understudied masterpiece of Christian writing from Goa in the early era of Catholic missions and examines themes such as the complexities of the colonial machinery, religious encounters, textual traditions, and multilingualism, providing insight into Portuguese Goa of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The first of its kind, the book makes significant interventions into the current discourse on cultural translation and brings to the fore a hitherto understudied text. It will be an indispensable resource for students and researchers of translation studies, comparative literature, religious studies, biblical studies, English literature, cultural studies, literary history, postcolonial studies, and South Asian studies.
Raj Balkaran is a scholar of Sanskrit narrative texts. He teaches at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and at his own virtual School of Indian Wisdom. For information see rajbalkaran.com.