Jaap van Dorp (Netherlands Bible Society): Retranslating the Bible in Dutch

The history of bible translating in the Netherlands, from the first printed translation in 1477 (Delft-version) until the Bible in Plain Dutch 2014, is a good example of a history of retranslation. During this 500-year process there have been changes in the choice of source texts. The knowledge of the transmission, meaning and interpretation of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek originals increased. Thus, scientific research had great impact on the rendering of biblical texts. Adaptations to the never-ending development of the target language were needed. New translation norms and strategies were chosen on behalf of the demands of bible readers because of changing political, social and cultural circumstances. Last but not least, changes in the book publishing industry have also influenced the retranslation process. The profile of every new translation has been defined in relation to the reception history of its predecessors, driven by the desire to create a greater impact on the target readers. Although retranslation has much to do with intentionally renewed interpretations of biblical texts, in the protestant tradition of retranslation the States Version (1637) still has canonical status for many readers in the Netherlands. There appears to be an ineradicable misunderstanding that if one wants to know what is really written in the original Bible, one must read the States Version published in the seventeenth century. To this date this assumption has an important effect on the retranslating process of the Bible in the Netherlands. The following paper will expand on how the authority of the States Version 1637 can be used in favor of a future retranslation of the Bible.

About the speaker

Dr. Jaap van Dorp (PhD Utrecht 1991) is a bible translator, translation coordinator and editor at the Netherlands Bible Society. He has worked successively on the revised edition of the Dutch Good News Bible published in 1996 and its annotated edition published in 1998, the New Dutch Bible Translation 2004 and its Study Bible edition (2008), the Bible in Plain Dutch (2014) and its annotated edition (2017), and the revision of the New Bible Translation (expected in 2021).