Karel Schoman se impressionistiese-historiografiese rekonstruksie van marginalisering en die seemanspiritualiteit in Skepelinge (2017) - 'n bronnestudie


  • Andries Raath, Professor University of the Free State, South Africa




Bullinger, Dutch Golden Age, Karel Schoeman, Orthodoxy, Pietism, Transconfessionalism, Nederlandse Goue Eeu, Ortodoksie, Piëtisme, Transkonfessionalisme


Karel Schoeman’s (1939-2017) extensive research on seventeenth and eighteenth century ecclesiastical life and Protestant spirituality at the Cape opened up important perspectives for studying Pietism as a transconfessional and transnational phenomenon. Schoeman's biography on Susanna Smit (1995) related Pietism as a form of transconfessional spirituality to the marginalised and isolated existence of Protestant believers in South African frontier communities. Pietism as a form of Protestant spirituality, emanating from and bolstered by the marginalised and isolated existence of believers, forms a core-element of Schoeman's work on Smit's spirituality. In his most recent posthumous work on early colonial history, Skepelinge (Shiplings) (2017), Schoeman attempts an impressionistic-historiographical reconstruction of marginalisation and spiritual piety on board the ships of the Dutch East India Company destined for the shores of the Cape of Good Hope. In this article, Schoeman's attempts at reconstructing the spirituality of these mariners are critically investigated and his impressionistic interpretation of marginalisation and isolation in the lives of these seamen evaluated in the context of his views on Pietism and marginalisation expounded in his previous publications. It is argued that the spiritual sources on which Schoeman's reconstruction of piety in Skepelinge is based are incomplete. However, his impressionistic descriptions of the marginalised and isolated existence of the Dutch seafaring community represent historiographical reflections of a high standard. It is concluded that Schoeman's neglect to relate the spiritual life on board Dutch East India ships more closely to the marginalised and isolated life of the seafaring communities is, arguably, a missed opportunity to trace the roots of early Cape Pietism to the living conditions of people who made a valuable contribution to the spiritual profile of later generations of colonialists at the Cape.


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