“Musk among Perfumes”

Creative Christianity in Thomas Stephens’s Kristapurana

in Church History and Religious Culture
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The complexities of scriptural translation intensify in colonial, multilingual societies. In this study, we examine Thomas Stephens’s Kristapurana (1616) as a significant moment of cross-cultural encounters in the history of Bible translation in India. Stephens (1549–1619) was an English Jesuit, who worked in Goa, India. The Kristapurana is written in the Marathi language, in Roman script. Stephens’s Purana can be considered the first attempt to bring the biblical story into an Indian language, although in poetic form. This study aims to bring out the significance of this early Christian work in the Marathi language by analyzing Stephens’s translation of the biblical story into Marathi. The Kristapurana is studied as a site where Christianity and indigenous Hindu practices come together to form a “creative” expression of Christianity strongly reminiscent of the region that it was produced in.

Church History and Religious Culture

Formerly: Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis




Claudius Buchanan, Christian Researches in Asia (New York: Richard Scott, 1812), 10.


Ibid., 895.


Hephzibah Israel, “Words … Borrow’d from Our Books: Translating Scripture, Language Use, and ProtestantTamil Identity in Post/colonial South India,” Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies, 15.1 (2008), 38.


Ibid., 171.


Ines G. Županov, “ ‘I Am a Great Sinner’: Jesuit Missionary Dialogues in Southern India (Sixteenth Century),” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 55.2–3 (2012), 415–446, there 415.


S.G. Tulpule, “Marathica Khristi Puranika,” Pratisthan (February 1954), 14.


This manuscript was copied by hand in 1767, by Manuel Rebello from the 1654 edition.


Ibid., 424–480.


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