Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mikael Agricola Day

Today (April 9th) is the day when Finland celebrates the life of Mikael Agricola, the founder of the written Finnish language. Agricola was also a protestant reformer and he played a crucial role in bringing the Bible into the Finnish language as he translated and  the whole New Testament and parts of the Old Testament into Finnish.

The Finnish embassy has a short and informative article about the life of Mikael Agricola. Here's a paragraph that describes his literary work:

Creating religious literature in the Finnish language became an entire life-work for Agricola, as according to the principles of Luther, everyone was entitled to the ability of reading the Bible in their own language. Agricola started to translate the New Testament into Finnish already in Wittenberg and it was published in 1548 under the name ’Se Wsi Testamentti’. Five years prior to that, he had already published the first book in the Finnish language, ‘Abckiria’, which consisted of the basics of reading and the Christian doctrine. A grand goal of Agricola was to translate the entire Bible into Finnish but he has no funding for it. He, however, translated various parts of the Old Testament in a number of books and he also wrote church manuscripts for the church services.

It could be said that what William Tyndale is for the English language, and Martin Luther for the German language, that is what Mikael Agricola is for the Finnish language. As a Finnish Christian, I am very thankful for his life and legacy.

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