Often new rays of light are thrown on certain passages of Sacred Scripture by reading them in a different translation. In some cases a precious promise is made to stand out with even greater luster. In yet other instances a difficult or even vague statement is brought sharply into focus. Both these facts certainly hold true when one reads the Afrikaans Bible, which is among the newest and purest of the newer, modern translations.
For the benefit of those who do not read Afrikaans I wish to share here a few gems from my personal Bible study, which I would suggest you jot down in pencil in the margin of your Bible, next to the passages concerned.
I. Genesis 2:4. The King James Version says: "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created."
It requires quite a stretch of imagination on the part of the average reader to know what the Bible writer is really trying to say. In fact, one group of so-called exponents of truth who are experts at wresting the Scriptures, use this text to prove that each day of Creation represents a period of hundreds of years. The Afrikaans translation, however, removes all doubt as to what is intended. It reads: "This is the history of how the heavens and the earth were created."
2. Likewise in the case of Genesis 5:1, the rendering is vague in the K.J.V.: "This is the book of the generations of Adam." The Afrikaans offers this simple and lucid rendering: "This is Adam's family tree."
Isn't it true that when we're afraid, we start "looking around us anxiously"—at world conditions, at the evidences of moral decay, at the omens of impending doom. His voice says to us, "My child, don't look around—look up! I am thy God."
11. Daniel 11:32 says: "And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits."
The Afrikaans Bible renders this text: "And such as do wickedly against the covenant will be led into apostasy through flattery; but the people that do know their God shall hold fast and act."
How often we see men and women who have cherished sinful indulgences in their lives eventually "led into apostasy through flattery." At a time like this, God needs truehearted disciples who will "hold fast" their allegiance and "act." The hour calls for men of faith and action!
12. Daniel 12:4 is a text that for many years has possibly been misinterpreted and wrongly applied by Bible students. It predicts, as a sign of the end, that "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Many have made this "running to and fro" to apply to the spate of air, road, sea, and rail travel that characterizes our age. The Afrikaans, however, is probably closer to the true intent of the passage in presenting both the "running to and fro" and the "increase of knowledge" as referring directly to Daniel's prophecy. It says that "many will investigate it" (the prophecy) and "knowledge [of the prophecy] will be increased." The word used is deursoek, which could be translated literally as meaning to "search through and through." This concept probably is much truer to the context than airplanes, cars, luxury liners, and express trains. It is the increase of the knowledge of the prophecies of the Bible that so clearly indicates that the coming King is at the door!
13. Malachi 3:10 commands us to bring to the Lord's treasury "all the tithe." Added force is given to the command as rendered in Afrikaans, which enjoins us to bring "the whale tithe."
14. What does the average reader understand by Matthew 5:33 where the Saviour says, "Thou shalt not forswear thyself"? The Afrikaans makes it clear what the Saviour meant—"Thou shalt not swear falsely."
15. Psalm 104:4 is another text of which the meaning is vague to the average reader: "Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire." To my mind the Afrikaans rendering throws light on what the psalmist would have us understand: "He makes of the winds His messengers, of the flames His servants." Here again the rendering in Afrikaans is in keeping with the context of Psalm 104, which is about God revealed in nature, and has nothing to do with the subject of angels.
16. A text that should be of encouragement to the women is Psalm 68:11, as rendered in Afrikaans. In English the text reads, "The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it." Interestingly enough, the Afrikaans translation says, "The Lord gave the word—the women who brought the good tidings were a great multitude." I believe the thought is inherent in the Hebrew. One wonders why the translators of the King James Version left the women out.
17. Isaiah 8:19 could give some difficulty to those who are trying to convince anyone deceived by spiritism—for in the English there is an elipsis that can be confusing: "Should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?" In Afrikaans this problem is solved by the elimination of the elipsis, thus reading, "Should not a people consult their God? Shall the living consult the dead?"
18. Finally, here is a time-honored promise—one of the world's favorites—dressed up in a fresh cloak that makes it look like a brand-new revelation—Psalm 46:1: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." In the Afrikaans Bible the promise reads: "God is our refuge and strength; as a helper in troubles He is highly qualified." That, dear friend, is what we all need to know. No matter what the difficulty or trial through which we may be passing we have a God who is not only "very present" but "highly qualified" to help us.
* Afrikaans is the language of the Europeans of the Republic of South Africa. (Many Cape Coloured and some Bantu tribes also speak it today.) Afrikaans and English share equal status as official languages of the Republic. The Afrikaans Bible was published in 1932. Prior to that date the High Dutch Bible was used. The revised edition, currently in use, appeared as recently as 1951.