An African Heart

An African Heart

Monday, April 9, 2012

Die Boek van Mormon

Conrad sent this interesting article to us.

Die Boek van Mormon
By John M. Pontius
I was searching through my books in storage a few days ago and
came across a first edition of the Book of Mormon in Afrikaans. I
served a mission in South African from 1971 to 1973. It was an
interesting and challenging experience.
I attended the Stake Conference in Johannesburg on May 14, 1972
when the new translation of the Book of Mormon into Afrikaans (Die
Boek van Mormon) was presented. It was an electric moment. People
wept. Some had waited all of their lifetimes to read the Book of
Mormon in Afrikaans. Many people had learned English for the sole
purpose of reading this scripture. The Spirit was strong among us as
we rejoiced.
Remembering back more than 50 years, I can still remember Professor
Felix Mynhardt [not a member of our church] as he spoke of his
experience in translating that sacred book. I will retell it as best I can
Professor Mynhardt was invited to come to the stand and speak about
his experience in translating the Book of Mormon. He recounted how
he had been given a gift of languages from God from his youth. He
said that he was fluent in many languages, including English,
Afrikaans, Hebrew and Egyptian, as well as many others. He was
presently employed as a language professor. He said he had been
praying that the Lord would give him some task, some divinely
important task, that would justify his having this gift of language from
He said in about 1970 that he had visited with a group of Mormon
leaders, who sought to commission him to translate the Book of
Mormon from English into Afrikaans. He said that he knew of the Book
of Mormon from his religions studies, and his initial reaction was that
he did not want to be involved in translating it.
However, that evening, as he prayed upon his knees, as was his habit,
he said the Spirit of the Lord convicted him. The message was
something on the order of, “You asked me for a great, divinely inspired
task of translation, I sent it to you in the form of translating the Book of
Mormon, and you declined.” Professor Mynhardt said he could not
sleep through the night because he knew that translating the Book of
Mormon would get him into trouble with his university, which was
owned and operated by the Dutch Reformed Church. When morning
came he telephoned Elder Clark to inform him that he would begin the
translation immediately.
He stood at the pulpit and described the experience. He said, “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 continued, “When I realized this, I knew that I had to find the
original language, and translate it back into the original language, or a
similar language to the original, and 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, “I finally tried Egyptian, and to my complete surprise,
I found that the Book of Mormon translated flawlessly into Egyptian,
not modern, but ancient Egyptian. I found that some nouns were
missing from Egyptian, so I added Hebrew nouns where Egyptian did
not provide the word or phrase. I chose Hebrew because both
languages existed in the same place anciently.”
“I had no idea at that time why the Book of Mormon was once written
in Egyptian, but I can tell you without any doubt, that this book was at
one point written entirely in Egyptian.” 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 and was in fact scripture. 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, “we are writing in
English!” It is unthinkable and absolute proof of the inspired origins of
this book.
He paused, then noted, “I am one of the few people in the world that is
fluent in ancient Egyptian. I am perhaps the only person fluent in
ancient Egyptian who is also fluent in Afrikaans and English. And I
know for a fact, that I am the only person alive who could have
translated this book first into Egyptian, and then into Afrikaans. If your
church ever needs an Egyptian translation of the Book of Mormon, it is
sitting in my office as we speak.” We all laughed.
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 will keep promoting this book as scripture for the remainder of my life
– simply because it is scripture, and I know it.
I haven’t studied your doctrine or your history since Joseph Smith. The
only thing I know about the Mormon religion is that you have authentic,
ancient scripture in the Book of Mormon, that your church was begun
by a living and true prophet of God, and that all of the world should
embrace the Book of Mormon as scripture. It simply can’t be denied

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