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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


VAN ROOY, Herrie. The Old Testament in the 2020 Afrikaans translation: Some contentious issues. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2020, vol.60, n.4-1, pp.929-944. ISSN 2224-7912.

In 1984, prof JP Oberholzer, one of the translators of the 1983 Afrikaans translation of the Bible, wrote an article dealing, inter alia, with three important issues on which the translators had to make decisions in comparison with the 1933/53 Afrikaans translation of the Bible. The decisions dealt with the translation of personal names, weights and measures and the translation of the divine name YHWH (Yahweh). The ultimate decisions of the translators deviated from decisions on the previous translation. The decisions made by the two groups of translators have to be evaluated in the light of the different aims set out for the two translations, as well as the different translation strategies followed. With regard to names, the 1983 translation sought to be consistent, for example by using the same name for a certain person, even when variant forms of the name occurred in the Hebrew. For weights and measures, they decided on a metrical system. The name Yahweh was rendered by "Here" ("Lord"), and not by "Here" ("Lord"), as in the older translation. The editorial committee on the Old Testament of the 2020 Afrikaans Bible also had to deal with these issues, as well as many others. This article discusses the decisions of the editorial committee with regard to these issues, as well as the treatment of messianic passages from the Old Testament. Oberholzer did not discuss this last issue, but it became a contentious matter to critics of the 1983 Afrikaans translation. However, it is clear from the translation what principle the translators had followed in not using capital letters in the case of personal pronouns interpreted to be messianic in nature. As regards personal names, the original decision was to follow the 1983 Afrikaans translation. However, that translation changed some of the customary forms of these names in Afrikaans and was not consistent in its practice. The 2020 translation reverts to many of the customary forms in Afrikaans and attempts to be more consistent, especially in following the common Hebrew pronunciation of these names and in retaining different forms of personal nouns, with footnotes linking the different forms to one another. Geographical names were frequently translated in the 1983 translation. Such translations occur less frequently in the 2020 translation, with footnotes explaining the meaning where the original names are used. For weights and measures, the original terms were used, with footnotes indicating the metrical equivalent. In this way, the symbolic values of the original numbers could be retained and some of the paraphrases in the 1983 translation avoided. The name YHWH is rendered by "Here" ("Lord"), while Adonai is rendered by "my Heer"/"die Heer" ("my Lord"/"the Lord"). With regard to the messianic texts in the Old Testament, the original decision was to follow the example of the 1983 translation. However, some of the churches involved in the whole project were in favour of following the example of the 1933/53 translation. Eventually, the Bible Society of South Africa decided on two versions of the 2020 translation, with the second one retaining capital letters as in the earlier translation. The first one follows the example of the 1983 translation, while adding footnotes to the texts in the New Testament that apply these Old Testament texts to Christ. The decisions made on the two translations with regard to the above-mentioned four issues have to be evaluated in the light of the different aims and strategies of the respective translations. Guided by the translation scope and strategies, the editorial committee on the translation of the Old Testament of the 2020 translation tried to be consistent in their decisions.

Palavras-chave : Bible translation; Old Testament; 1933/53 Afrikaans translation; 1983 translation; 2020 translation; measures and weights; names of God; Yahweh; Adonai; messianic texts; proper names; JP Oberholzer.

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