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South African Bom Translation Story Making The Rounds


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#1 cinepro

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 08:49 PM

I was recently emailed this story about the translation of the Book of Mormon into Afrikaans (an African dialect) in the early 1970's. The story is a recent recollection by someone who heard the story over 40 years ago.

http://unblogmysoul....oek-van-mormon/

[Non-Mormon Professor Felix Mynhardt] stood at the pulpit and described the experience. He said something like, “I never begin translating a book at the beginning. Writing style usually changes through a book, and becomes more consistent toward the middle. Accordingly, I opened to a random place in the middle of the Book of Mormon, and began translating.” He said, “I was startled by the obvious fact that the Book of Mormon was not authored in English. He said, “It became immediately apparent that what I was reading was a translation into English from some other language. The sentence structure was wrong for native English. The word choices were wrong, as were many phrases.” He said, “How many times has an Englishman said or written, ‘And it came to pass?’” We all laughed, and knew he was right, of course.

He explained that when he realized this, he knew that he had to find either the original language or a median language then proceed to translate it into Afrikaans. He listed a half-dozen languages he tried, all of which did not accommodate the strange sentence structure found in the Book of Mormon. He said he finally tried Egyptian, and to his complete surprise, he found that the Book of Mormon translated flawlessly into Egyptian, not modern, but ancient Egyptian. He found that some nouns were missing from Egyptian, so he used Hebrew nouns where Egyptian did not provide the word or phrase. He chose Hebrew because both languages existed in the same place anciently.

He said had no idea at that time why the Book of Mormon was once written in Egyptian, but he said that without any doubt, the Book of Mormon had been authored in Egyptian or a language with very similar syntax. I heard him say this over and over. Then, he said, “Imagine my utter astonishment when I turned to chapter one, verse one and began my actual translation and came to verse two, where Nephi describes that he was writing in the language of the Egyptians, with the learning of the Jews!”

He said, “I knew by the second verse, that this was no ordinary book, that it was not the writings of Joseph Smith, but that it was of ancient origin. I could have saved myself months of work if I had just begun at the beginning. Nobody but God, working through a prophet of God, in this case Nephi, would have included a statement of the language he was writing in. Consider, how many documents written in English, include the phrase, “I am writing in English!” It is unthinkable and absolute proof of the inspired origins of this book.”

He noted that he was one of the few people in the world with any knowledge of old Egyptian writing. He was certainly the only person who was also fluent in Afrikaans and English. He indicated that when a verse would not translate directly into English, that he used Egyptian as a tool to arrive at a correct translation into Afrikaans.

Professor Mynhardt spoke of many other things regarding the translation of this book, and then said, “I do not know what Joseph Smith was before he translated this book, and I do not know what he was afterward, but while he translated this book, he was a prophet of God! I know he was a prophet! I testify to you that he was a prophet while he brought forth this book! He could have been nothing else! No person in 1827 could have done what he did. The science did not exist. The knowledge of ancient Egyptian did not exist. The knowledge of these ancient times and ancient Peoples did not exist. The Book of Mormon is scripture. I hope you realize this.”

“I have since been asked to translate the book you call the Doctrine and Covenants. I got part way through and set it down. It is not like the Book of Mormon. Anyone could translate it into Afrikaans. It is not scripture in the same sense that the Book of Mormon is scripture. I declare that the Book of Mormon is of ancient origin, and is scripture of the same caliber as the Old Testament, or for that matter, the New Testament.”



There is an Ensign article that was written at the time. Here is how they describe it:

Bishop Johannes P. Brummer of the Johannesburg Second Ward, one of those who shepherded this valuable and important translation, told of the divine guidance that made its publication possible. He had translated about a third of the Book of Mormon into Afrikaans, but it had been a long, tedious effort, and it was imperative that the translation be completed without further delay so that the building up of the Church in South Africa could progress with greater speed and with every possible advantage. But where could a person be found with the necessary academic excellence and sufficient spirituality to complete such a task?

One day an acquaintance of Bishop Brummer brought his friend, Felix Mynhardt, a language teacher from Pretoria, to meet him. The man not only had a consuming interest in everything related to the scriptures, but he also had been raised in a home with a spiritual atmosphere. His father, the Reverend C. F. Mynhardt, compiled the first concordance of the Afrikaans Bible.

Felix Mynhardt, a nonmember, provides the answer to that question himself.

During a difficult period in the translation Felix said: “It’s as though darkness seems to settle on my mind when I get down to work so that I just cannot get the translation done. On some occasions I have in absolute despair gone down onto my knees and asked the Lord to help me. I have come to you today to tell you that I think you folks are just not praying for me.”

The Saints in South Africa


So, do you believe the Professor translated the Book of Mormon into Egyptian then Afrikaans?

Edited by cinepro, 26 February 2013 - 08:51 PM.

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In spite of the world's arguments against the historicity of the Flood, and despite the supposed lack of geologic evidence, we Latter-day Saints believe that Noah was an actual man, a prophet of God, who preached repentance and raised a voice of warning, built an ark, gathered his family and a host of animals onto the ark, and floated safely away as waters covered the entire earth. We are assured that these events actually occurred by the multiple testimonies of God's prophets.

The Flood and the Tower of Babel, by Donald W. Parry, assistant professor of Hebrew at BYU, Ensign, Jan 1998, 35

#2 Duncan

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 08:53 PM

funnily enough I heard the Elders relate this to me not five days ago! not sure what to believe

there is this though

http://www.holyfetch...van_Mormon.html

Edited by Duncan, 26 February 2013 - 08:54 PM.

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#3 calmoriah

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 08:55 PM

If it is what I am thinking of, the author took it down when he was challenged on its accuracy though he didn't say he was wrong, just that he wasn't sure abut his memory being as accurate as he would like or something along those lines.

Disappointing if it is back up but I have definitely seen it being passed around a lot so perhaps he feels it is justified by interest. Wish he'd just stuck with the Ensign version.

It makes no sense to translate it into Egyptian and then Afrikaans. Why would he need to find another language that was unrelated to Afrikaans even if it was the original language the text was written in? I could see going to an actual original text rather than a translation for a better translation, but without knowing what the original text was, it would have just been an approximation and therefore not any better than using the English version in the first place.
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#4 blackstrap

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 09:39 PM

Anyone we know who could translate the BoM into ancient Egyptian to see if the statement holds water ? Anyone? Anyone ?
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#5 Stargazer

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:43 AM

Anyone we know who could translate the BoM into ancient Egyptian to see if the statement holds water ? Anyone? Anyone ?


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#6 MormonMason

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:22 AM

I have it on good authority (one of Mynhardt's relatives and a friend familiar with the situation) that much of the account is substantially like it happened--just about everything but the Egyptian part. Mynhardt did not know Egyptian. That part about back-translating into Egyptian and then into Afrikaans, according to the relative, is not accurate.
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#7 cdowis

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:26 AM

Felix Mynhardt-- I remember seeing a bio on him last time we discussed him. It listed several languages, but not Egyptian. I tried to find the bio today but did not jump out at me in google.
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#8 MormonMason

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:27 AM

Anyone we know who could translate the BoM into ancient Egyptian to see if the statement holds water ? Anyone? Anyone ?


I do know that there are Egyptian elements in the Book of Mormon, including concepts, names, a phrase, and certain usages of English phrases that have equivalents in Egyptian but not in Hebrew, and that Egyptian had an equivalent to our adieu whereas it is unattested in ancient Hebrew. But I have never heard of anyone translating a translated Egyptian text back into Egyptian in order to translate into another foreign language. I have heard of people doing that for Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts, though.
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#9 maklelan

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 02:35 PM

The story is a complete fabrication. It comes from a well-meaning gentleman who has long enjoyed the attention he's gotten from spiritual speculation and story-telling. He passed away in December after having removed this story from his blog because he claimed his memory of the events was not perfectly accurate. It is likely up again because he is no longer around to oversee his blog. Mynhardt (also Mijnhardt or Maynard) first translated First, Second, and Third Nephi to compare to the same chapters test-translated by Johann Brummer, second counsellor to the mission president in South Africa. Mynhardt's translation was determined to be far superior to Brummer's, so he was assigned to retranslate those three books and then translate the rest. From the beginning, the team, which worked closely together, established the priority of the English text and determined the translation should reflect that text very closely. Mijnhardt himself stated that he understood that text to be inspired and so intended to replicate it as closely as possible. A Brother Swanepoel was also responsible for comparing the text, verse by verse, with the English to ensure the accuracy and proximity of the translation to the English. There's no indication he ever knew Egyptian. He has translated material into Afrikaans from Latin, Greek, Hebrew, English, and a variety of other modern languages, but his degrees are in English and Afrikaans, and nothing anywhere indicates experience in ancient Egyptian.
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#10 MormonMason

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 06:02 PM

I just am visiting to report something that someone I know just found. The story is not, I repeat, not a complete fabrication.  Many details are wrong, such as the use of Egyptian, but underlying this are statements of Felix Mijnhardt (phonetically Mynhardt) himself.  Someone I know has located a transcript of a talk that the professor gave on the same date and in the same city.  This transcript was submitted to the Church some time ago by the Transvaal Stake, in Johannesburg, the date stated as May 14, 1972, which is the date stated by the account that has been circulating.  There are considerable lapses in memory in the circulating account but underlying that account are some real events as reported by Professor Mijnhardt during said talk.

 

Mijnhardt, whenever he came to difficult passages to translate into Afrikaans, would backtranslate into Hebrew and then into Afrikaans from there.  He stated that such sentences made a whole lot more sense to him when he did that and also came to the conclusion that Joseph Smith could not have just "thought up" the Book of Mormon and that it had "in fact a solid matter of fact origin of some Semitic language."

 

So, in spite of errors in reporting and serious lapses of memory, it is not a "complete fabrication" in that the transcript substantiates a certain amount of the 40-year later recollection.  The account has some basis in fact.  I, in fact, have been shown the transcript, along with the source slip and call number of the transcript from the CHL.

 

Location information for the transcript of Professor Mijnhardt discussing the translation process here.


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#11 iamse7en

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 01:23 AM

Uxolo bhuti!
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#12 cdowis

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 05:14 AM

funnily enough I heard the Elders relate this to me not five days ago! not sure what to believe

 

 

If the elders repeated it, then it is definitely fake.  This is how the whole Smithsonian thing happened -- elders blabbering nonsense about the Smithsonian using the BOM in archeological research.


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#13 Kenngo1969

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 05:35 AM

If the elders repeated it, then it is definitely fake.  This is how the whole Smithsonian thing happened -- elders blabbering nonsense about the Smithsonian using the BOM in archeological research.

I wish you'd been a little bit more precise in your use of language, there, CDowis.  I have a feeling this is going to end up (out of context and applied to all things Mormon) in a Trailer Park Greatest Hits ™ (aka Mormon Discussions) Compilation. :huh:


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#14 cdowis

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 09:23 AM

Let me clarify ==>>

 

"Missionaries have a tendency to spout nonsense when attempting to prove the Book of Mormon, rather than teaching the investigator to read and pray about it."

 

 

And you can quote me.  The church had to issue special instructions to cease and desist citing the Smithsonian as proof of the Book of Mormon.


Edited by cdowis, 06 September 2013 - 09:26 AM.

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