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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


STRAUSS, Piet. The history, acceptance and impact of the Afrikaans Bible of 1933 - an overview. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2016, vol.56, n.3, pp.733-745. ISSN 2224-7912.

The first translation and publication of the entire Bible in Afrikaans in 1933 had a notable impact on its environment. It became an important book of life for speakers of the Afrikaans language; helped standardize this language as a spoken and written language, and through its readers influenced the history of South Africa. The translation of 1933 was the outcome of a third, definite period leading up to the translation of the entire Bible in Afrikaans. The first period: 1872-1911. On 7 September 1872, Arnoldus Pannevis wrote a letter in the Cape paper the Zuid-Afrikaan in which he pleaded for the translation of the Bible in the upcoming Afrikaans. On 14 August 1875, as a result of Pannevis's letter, a meeting of 8 young individuals was held in Paarl. They founded the pro-Afrikaans Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners (Society for True Afrikaners), which had as its aim the promotion of Afrikaans. The translation of the Bible in Afrikaans was regarded as a key factor in achieving this. Afrikaans was not yet a standardized written language. At the time, the rule for translation was "write as you speak". People should be able to understand the message of God in their mother tongue. This led to an informal Afrikaans translation of the Bible that was not acceptable to many speakers of the language. In their reading, they used the well-known Dutch State translation of 1637, which had a more formal conception - and wording - of what is mentioned in the Bible. At the time, the leading figure in translating the Bible was SJ du Toit. The period came to an end with his death in 1911. The second period: 1914-1923. Two factors determined this translation. One was a movement away from informal Afrikaans. The new translators were of the opinion that, in order to achieve this, they should translate the Dutch State translation into Afrikaans. The second factor was the strong urge of these translators to be instrumental in achieving an Afrikaans Bible. There was also a growing need among speakers of Afrikaans for a Bible in their own language. A proof or concept of the New Testament and Psalms was published in 1922. This translation, however, was not well received by the speakers of Afrikaans. Well-known Afrikaans writers also spoke out publicly against it. There was a feeling that the Afrikaans used was rather a bad Dutch. The way of saying things, the wording and the rhythm were not Afrikaans. The third and final period for the translation: 1923-1933. This was started with a decision by the Broad Committee on Translation of the three Afrikaans Reformed Churches in July 1923 to translate from the best available Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the best available Greek text of the New Testament. These churches were the Dutch Reformed Church, the Reformed Church in South Africa and the so-called Netherdutch Reformed Church of Africa. The translation was completed in 1928 and was followed by a revision of the translation and the input of learned scholars of Afrikaans. The well-known editors of the Old and the New Testament were JD du Toit, the famous Afrikaans writer and poet from Potchefstroom, and JD Kestell, a pastor and church leader from Bloemfontein. They were trusted by the members of the churches and were able and recognized users of written Afrikaans. The churches received the completed translation of the Bible in Afrikaans with celebrations on 27 August 1933. The impact of this translation of the Bible can be regarded as the same impact Luther's translation had on German and the State translation had on Dutch. The Afrikaans Bible of 1933 stimulated the standardization of Afrikaans as a spoken and written language. The content and thoughts of the Bible in Afrikaans were also used by the speakers of Afrikaans to help determine the history of South Africa. The Afrikaans Bible of 1933 was called a triumph of Afrikaans.

Keywords : The Bible in the mother tongue; write as you speak; informal and formal Biblical language; Afrikaans; Dutch; original languages; standardization of Afrikaans; impact of the Afrikaans Bible on the Afrikaans society; Afrikaans Bible and apartheid.

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