Both for my wife Aafje and myself the word ‘translating’ had always been important. Aafje was involved in translating books for a major part of her working life. When moving from place to place in the world her job as a translator went with her. In the book case in her room are more than one hundred books which she translated–mostly from English into Dutch.
My focus has been more on writing books and articles. However, throughout most of my life I have also done some translation work from time to time. I translated a number of books from English into Dutch. The last one is the devotional book by Dr. Jon Paulien: The Gospel from Patmos. The Dutch version, to be published by the Adventist Church in the Netherlands, will appear within a few months. The author offers a short meditation for each day of the year, based on one or more texts from the last book of the Bible. However, from time to time, I have also translated theological books from Dutch into English. Just a few weeks ago the American publisher Eerdmans published a book of over 800 pages: An Introduction to Christian Dogmatics. It is my translation of a book by two Dutch theology professors at the Free University in Amsterdam (Cornelis van der Kooi and Gijsbert van den Brink). Some two years ago I spent a major part of my time on this exciting project. For me translation work is a kind of a hobby! To work with languages and go from one language to another is a fascinating challenge.
Recently I have become involved with translations also in a different way. After having written the book FACING DOUBT in English, it was not too difficult to translate it myself into my mother tongue Dutch. But a French translation far exceeded my expertise. In the course of my assignment in Belgium, a few years ago, I got to know my colleague Michel Mayeur quite well. He had already, at some earlier time, taken the initiative to translate into French a devotional book that I had written and he now spontaneously offered to also translate my latest book into French. It is now available as FACE AU DOUTE (Amazon.fr).
From Belarus I received a similar spontaneous offer from a fellow-pastor to care for a Russian translation. This Russian edition has now come off the press and may be ordered through Amazon.uk (Рейндер Бруинсма). This edition is mainly intended for Russian speaking Adventists in the ‘diaspora’ (i.e. those who have migrated to countries in the West). Very soon a cheaper edition will also appear, through a Russian online publisher/bookseller: www.ridero.ru.
Walder Hartmann, a retired pastor in Denmark, whom I know very well, saw the importance of this book and wrote me that he would be happy to take on a Danish translation. Two weeks ago the visitors of the annual camp meeting of the Danish Adventist Church were able to buy the book (it can also be ordered through www.saxo.dk). The German translation is also a ‘labor of love.’ A very capable person with great linguistic skills is currently in the last phase of this work.
In the near future I will have a meeting with a Portuguese speaking colleague to discuss the possibility of a Portuguese edition, and it would be great if I could find a volunteer for a Spanish translation. I am immensely grateful for all translators. And my appreciation also extends in a very special way to Mr. Manfred Lemke of Flanko Press, who is putting a lot of expertise and energy in this project.
PS. Talking about translations: It is clear that a translator must have a thorough knowledge of at least two languages: the original language and the language into which the original is to be translated. It requires knowledge and linguistic sensitivity, in addition to a lot of time and energy and a good deal of creativity. That is also what is needed when we want to communicate the Word of God–the good news–to the people around us. Whoever is involved in this work must know the language of the Bible, but also the language of the people in the twenty-first century. Without this kind of translation the gospel will remain unintelligible for all those who so far have never heard it.