Translating the crown jewels: the Dutch Book of Mormon translation between conservatism and modernism

TitleTranslating the crown jewels: the Dutch Book of Mormon translation between conservatism and modernism
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsW.E.A. van Beek, and W. Decoo
Secondary TitleTrajecta: religion, culture and society in the low countries
Date Published2022
Publication Languageeng
Keywordsbible, Book of Mormon, doctrine, Latter-day Saints, translation

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as LDS or Mormon Church, translates its originally English scriptures worldwide, also in Dutch for its 10,000 members in the Low Lands. The focus in this article is on the Book of Mormon, written in an English biblical style of the 1600s, first translated in Dutch in 1890 and followed by several revisions and a retranslation. This article sketches how LDS translation is conducted in a tight framework that is both religiously and institutionally defined. It explores how the developments that characterize new Dutch Bible translations also play out in the LDS Dutch context as the Church’s insistence on formal-equivalent translation rubs against modernizing pressures. Exemplary for these transitions in Dutch Bible versions is the choice of the pronoun of address: from gij which the Statenvertaling Bible (1637) deeply embedded, to the modern but still solemn u and next to the informal jij, je, jullie. The Dutch retranslation of the Book of Mormon struggled with these and similar issues, in particular because the wording and style should reflect, for coherence, the official LDS choice for an existing Dutch Bible. When a Bible choice changes, it affects the next revision of Het Boek van Mormon. Finally, translation is also and perhaps foremost the story of human actors — how each of them has room to maneuver in spite of the tight framework. As a result, diversity thrives where unity was intended.


Citation Key12714