A brief overview of Bible translation in South Africa

  • E. A. Hermanson Bible Society of South Africa
Keywords: Bible translation, South African languages, Missionary period, Bible Society period, Formal-equivalent translations, Dynamic-/functional-equivalent translations, Bible for the Deaf


Christianity came to South Africa in 1652, but missionary outreach to the indigenous population only began in earnest in the 19th century. The first formal-equivalent Bible translations were done by missionaries in the latter part of the 19th and early 20th century. Since the mid-1960s the Bible Society has facilitated functional-equivalent translations by teams of mother-tongue translators, and is currently completing the Old Testament in Southern Ndebele, the only South African official language without a complete Bible. Advances in translation theory present new challenges in translating the Bible to communicate in the contemporary linguistic situation.


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