Original Research - Special Collection: Bible 200

To what extent did the Bible translations into indigenous languages of Southern Africa produced since 1966 reflect the purpose of providing meaning-based translations?

Jacobus A. van Rooy
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 55, No 3 | a2747 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v55i3.2747 | © 2021 Jacobus A. van Rooy | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 March 2021 | Published: 24 June 2021

About the author(s)

Jacobus A. van Rooy, Department Old Testament/Missiology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Since the Bible was intended by die first authors to be understood by all believers, it is important to have an idea of the extent to which different translations succeeded in this respect. The author noticed that some of the latest Bible translations in Southern Africa are inconsistent with respect to the translation policies they followed, sometimes translating according to the meaning, and sometimes literally, distorting the meaning. He then selected a number of theologically important terms from the Bible for the purpose of comparing the way those were translated in the different translations.

Contribution: It was found that some of these translations, particularly the 1983 Afrikaans translation, the Venḓa translation of 1998, and the Xhosa translation of 1996, consistently translated according to the meaning, and two of them, to wit the latest Southern Ndebele and Zulu translations, very literal, and the rest somewhere in between these methods, sometimes translating quite literally, and sometimes more meaningfully, but generally not consistent.


translation; meaningful; idiomatic; literal; Southern African translations.


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