American Bible Society Archives
ABS History, Distribution Abroad
Essay #15, Part VI-H, Pacific Islands, 1901-1930
Janice E. Pearson

Published with the permission of the American Bible Society (ABS), New York, New York, USA.
Image of theTable of Contents, Page 16, Page 17, and Page 18

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IV. Guam

ABS records indicate that a total of 441 volumes of Scriptures were issued to Guam between 1901 and 1930. These books were primarily in English, Spanish, and the native language of Chamorro. The value of book grants to Guam was about $318.00 (See pages 22 and 23)

Mr. Francis M. Price, a missionary in Guam, wrote that of a total population of some 10,000 (in 1905), the Protestant population was "small but conspicuous and growing in interest and usefulness." About 40% of the native teachers and government employees belonged to the Protestant faith. (CC Price, 1.18.1905) However, there was very marked opposition from the Roman Catholics. Regarding the translation of the Chamorro New Testament, Mr. Price wrote,

As there are Catholic priests both Spanish and native in Guam, who will do all that they can to destroy the influence of the portions of Scriptures that we shall publish, I am especially desirous that this translation may be as perfect as possible. (CC Price, 5.9.1905)

Before the publication of the New Testament, there was very little religious reading material in the native tongue, part of which was the Roman Catechism:

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With regard to the first portions of scripture printed in Chamorro...I beg to say that these are the only portions of scripture that have ever been circulated among the people. There is a catechism of Christian doctrine published by the Catholics which contains the Lord's Prayer in short form and also the Ten Commandments in brief form; but in these commandments the second commandment reads: "Keep sacred the feast days." This is all the scripture that has ever been published in the Chamorro language, so that these leaflets of ours are really the first portions of scripture ever circulated in Guam. (CC Price, 5.9.1905)

It had been hoped that the new New Testament could be printed in parallel columns of Chamorro and English since the public schools were making English the language of instruction. Mr. Price again wrote:

Of course the older people cannot read English and the younger people will not understand it well for some years but with the English and Chamorro side by side they will get much that they cannot get otherwise and the book will have an interest and dignity in their eyes that it could not otherwise have. With the priests dead against the reading of the Bible at all, it needs every advantage that we can give it. (CC Price, 10.11.1906)

However the Committee felt that such a volume would not be justified. It would have been impossible to match exactly the two languages due to the differences between them, and also it would have involved great expense. (CC Haven, 5.6.1907) This was agreed to by the Guam missionaries. In 1908 Mr. Price commented on the number of copies to be printed:

500 copies would meet immediate needs but would give little opportunity for large sales, such as we hope to see made. 1000 copies would be better and provide for the work for five years, in all probabilities. It would seem to me to be cheaper and better to print 1000 copies now, rather than to have to print again in a year or two. It is expected that the coming of these scriptures to Guam will give a
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very decided impulse to the work and doubtless there will be a demand for them. (CC Price, 4.21.1908)

Note 1: ABCFM is the abbreviation for American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

Note 2: Date format is (Month.Day.Year).

The Chamorro Bible In Print

Photograph accompanying Manguaguan na Palabran Si Yuus - God's Precious WordsManguaguan na Palabran Si Yuus – God's Precious Words
With the Photograph of the Day

The Great Earthquake and Catastrophic Tsunami of 2004
The Spectacular Clouds of the Transonic Flight Regime  ·  Francis Marion Price (1850-1937)  ·  The 1908 Chamorro Bible in Audio  ·  Chamorro Language Resources  ·  Acknowledgements  ·  ISLES, Spring 2003, Special Issue: The Resurrection of the (1908) Chamorro Bible  ·  Chamorro Bible Project  ·  Announcements  ·  Download