- Paperback: 526 pages
- Publisher: Nabu Press (8 March 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1146895402
- ISBN-13: 978-1146895408
- Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 2.7 x 24.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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The Bible in Spain: Or, the Journeys, Adventures, and Imprisonments of an Englishman in an Attempt to Circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula Paperback – Import, 8 Mar 2010
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Published in 1843, “The Bible in Spain” describes Borrow’s travels and adventures in Spain from late 1835 to approximately 1840. Before going on his mission to Spain, the author had developed considerable skills in various languages, had spent two years working for the British Bible Society in Russia, and was a seasoned and imperturbable traveler and adventurer. Borrow’s mission was to distribute Spanish language translations of the New Testament by selling it to the general populace. While doing this he also developed and distributed his own translation of the Gospels into Gitano, a language of the Spanish gypsies, and another person’s translation of the Book of Luke into a language of the Basques.
Ferdinand VII had died in 1833 with no living male descendants, and Spain was in political and civil upheaval over the nature of its monarchy and the successor to the throne. The Carlist faction favored a return to absolute monarchy with the late king’s brother, Carlos, as the ruler. The Liberal faction favored a constitutional monarchy, with the late king’s oldest daughter, Isabell, who was still a child, inheriting the throne and a regency under her mother until Isabell came of age. Borrow took no side in this political dispute, but England was generally aligned with the Liberal faction. Against this backdrop, Borrow entered Spain through Portugal and traveled from north to south over most of the central and western regions.
I waded into this book with essentially no knowledge of Spain’s cultural and political history and limited knowledge of its geography. I had no understanding of why anyone would be on a mission to distribute Bibles to the general population, since I knew that at that time Spain was a “Christian country.” As I came to understand from the book, although the Catholic church was prevalent everywhere, there were very few Bibles available to the Spanish public. The generality were unable to read directly the words of the Bible in their common language and without extensive commentary controlled by the church. The distribution of Testaments and other parts of the Bible was intended to fulfill a Protestant mission of making the key Christian documents directly accessible to believers. Adventures of a traveling Bible salesman sounds like very stale reading, but it was not. The book is relatively long, but Borrow keeps the narrative interesting. Mainly it is a story about the memorable people and places that he encounters and the situations – some interesting, some humorous, some harrowing -- that he experiences. His prose is flowery in the manner of his times, but it is very readable if one is willing either to skip over or to spend time to understand the snippets in various non-English language that he sprinkles throughout. I enjoyed the book and recommend it highly.
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