- Martyn, Henry
- (1781-1812)pioneer Protestant missionary among MuslimsHenry Martyn was born in Truro, Cornwall, England, of humble background. He was able to attend Cambridge University, where he was influenced by Charles Simeon, the renowned minister of Trinity Church, and decided to be a missionary. He served with Simeon at Trinity briefly, and then accepted a commission as a chaplain with the East India Company, for whom he worked for four years, first at Dinapore (1806-09) and then at Cawnpore (1809-10).While in India, he discovered his linguistic talents while working with Baptists on a Bible translation. He went on to complete a New Testament in Urdu, then rendered it into Persian, and supervised a translation into Arabic. His missionary focus on Muslims rather than Hindus explains his translation work in the most common Muslim languages. He also educated himself on Islam.In 1810, suffering from tuberculosis, he moved to Persia (Iran), hoping the dry climate would assist his recovery. In light of what he learned there, he revised his Persian translation completely, eventually giving a copy to the shah. While in Iran, he engaged in a literary debate with Muslim clerics, the results of which were published in 1824 as Controversial Tracts on Christianity and Mohammedanism.In 1812, only 32 years old, he died at Tocat. In his brief life he made a considerable impact on his contemporaries, especially the Armenians (who cared for his body after his death). His conciliatory approach to Muslims was followed by his 19th-century successors, though it was sometimes ignored in the changing environments of the 20th century.Today, the Henry Martyn Trust promotes the world missionary movement, in part by supporting the Henry Martyn Centre, a library at Westminster College, Cambridge, focused on the study of missions and world Christianity.See also Middle East.Further reading:■ Henry Martyn, Christian India■ or, An Appeal on Behalf of 900,000 Christians in India Who Want the Bible. A Sermon, Preached at Calcutta, on Tuesday, January 1, 1811, for Promoting the Objects of the British and Foreign Bible Society (Calcutta, India: printed by P. Ferris, 1811)■ John R. C. Martyn, Henry Martyn (1781-1812) Scholar and Missionary to India and Persia: A Biography (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1999)■ Jesse Page, Henry Martyn of India and Persia (London: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.)■ John Sargent Jr., Memoir of the Rev. Henry Martyn, B. D.: Late Fellow of St. John's College Cambridge and Chaplain to the Honourable East India Company. (Hartford: G. Goodwin and Sons, 1822)■ Life and Letters of Henry Martyn, Banner of Truth Trust, 1986)■ George Smith, Henry Martyn (London, Religious Tract Society, 1892).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.