The Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (the SSPCK) was set up in 1709, and its aim was to teach the Scriptures to people throughout the Highlands of Scotland.
Dr Samuel Johnson and the publication of Gaelic Bibles
Dr Samuel Johnson highlighted that the SSPCK was actively preventing a translation of the Bible into Scottish Gaelic from being published.
In 1766, he attacked the policy of the SSPCK towards the Highlanders:
‘…there remains only their language and their poverty.
Their language is attacked on every side.
Schools are erected in which English only is taught and there were lately some who thought it reasonable to refuse them a version of the Holy Scriptures, that they might have no monument of their mother tongue.’
In response to what Johnson said, the Society decided to have the Bible translated into Gaelic.
The Gaelic New Testament of the SSPCK appeared the following year in 1767.
The Gaelic and English text were on facing pages.
This was more successful as the language of instruction in Highland schools was changed from English to Gaelic.
From 1767, SSPCK schools introduced Gaelic as the medium of instruction in their Highland schools (although parish schools continued to use English only).
The Old Testament would follow in 1801.