A couple of years ago, English-speaking nations celebrated the 400th anniversary of the completion of the very influential King James Bible. Today marks the 80th anniversary of the first complete translation of the Word of God in the youngest of the West-Germanic languages, Afrikaans, the language of the Boer people of South Africa. Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch, and in its early stages of development (during the nineteenth century) was referred to as “Cape Dutch.” Around 95% of Afrikaans words are of Dutch origin.1 Afrikaans is also unique in the sense that it is the only Germanic language that developed in Africa. The translation of the Bible was the greatest literary milestone for a language that had only been officially recognized by the South African government eight years prior. Since the Dutch Statenvertaling was generally in use among the Boer people up until that time, the Afrikaans Bible not only played a pivotal role in establishing and standardizing Afrikaans as a language, but also has had considerable significance for the Boer people and our cultural development over the past eighty years.
The history of the translation of the Bible into Afrikaans can be traced back as early as 1872, when Dutch-born Dr. Arnoldus Pannevis, who observed the radical differences between the language spoken by the Boers and Cape Dutchmen and that spoken in the Netherlands, wrote a letter in the newspaper, De Zuid-Afrikaan, pleading for a translation of the Bible into the language of the South African Dutch. His letter contributed to the eventual formation of the Society for Real Afrikaners in 1875, which advocated the official recognition of Afrikaans as a language in its own right. In 1878, the Society assigned Rev. S.J. Du Toit with the task of translating the Bible into Afrikaans; the first biblical books to appear in Afrikaans were Genesis in 1893 and the Gospel of Matthew in 1895.2
Eventually the complete translation of the Bible into Afrikaans was completed in 1933 by Rev. S.J. Du Toit’s son, Rev. J.D. Du Toit, assisted by E.E. van Rooyen, J.D. Kestell, H.C.M. Fourie, and B.B. Keet. The Bible was revised again in 1953. Interestingly, J.D. Du Toit, who insisted that the Textus Receptus should be used to translate the New Testament, was, despite his philo-semitic heresies, also a strong advocate of Boer nationalism. It would be impossible to ignore the nationalistic sentiments in the pro-Afrikaans movement at the time, characterized by a literary interest in Afrikaans as the language of the volk, which led to the translation of the Bible into that language.3
In 1983, a second translation of the Bible into Afrikaans appeared, but it carried much less theological value due to a deliberate attempt to disregard the Christological nature of many Old Testament prophecies as well as the prevailing naturalist textual-critical approach to the original texts. Another translation of the Bible into Afrikaans is currently being completed by South African Dutch Reformed Churches, a translation also to be shunned by believers among the Boer people because of the liberal theology that will be presented in its clarifying notes,4 in addition to its heretical approach to translating the text.
For the sake of the spiritual well-being of the Boer people, a translation of the Greek Septuagint and a revision of the far superior 1933/53 translation is needed into modern Afrikaans, but with the treasonous and deceiving theologians currently running the show in the Dutch Reformed Churches, the expectation for these developments in the short term remains rather dim.
* King James Version (1611)
O the depth of the riches both of the wisedome and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgements, and his wayes past finding out!
For who hath knowen the mind of the Lord, or who hath bene his counseller?
Or who hath first given to him, and it shall bee recompensed unto him againe?
For of him, and through him, and to him are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
* Afrikaans Bible (1933)
O, DIEPTE van die rykdom en wysheid en kennis van God!
Hoe ondeurgrondelik is sy oordele en onnaspeurlik sy weë!
Want wie het die gedagte van die Here geken, of wie was sy raadsman gewees?
Of wie het eers iets aan Hom gegee, dat dit hom vergeld moet word?
Want uit Hom en deur Hom en tot Hom is alle dinge. Syne is die heerlikheid tot in ewigheid. Amen.
- Brachin, P.; Vincent, P. (1985). The Dutch Language: A Survey. Brill Archive, p. 132 ↩
- http://www.bloedrivier.org/web/index.php/af/geskiedenis/die-bybel-in-afrikaans/26 – Note: this source is in Afrikaans. ↩
- Marx, C. (1998). Oxwagon Sentinel: Radical Afrikaner Nationalism and the History of the Ossewabrandwag, p. 94 ↩
- Most notably, this edition of the Afrikaans Bible will, besides disregarding the Christological character of many prophecies, include comments that Genesis 1-11 consists of fables. ↩