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Foreign interest for 'Statenvertaling'

Lithuanian bible translation modeled after Dutch example

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM- A Lithuanian doctoral student hopes to realize her degree with a dissertation on a Baltic bible translation which was modeled on the famous seventeenth-century Dutch 'Statenvertaling.' Linguist Gina Kavaliunaite visited Amsterdam recently, to research Dutch archives. She also interviewed Amsterdam antiquarian book dealer Ton Bolland, an expert on Dutch bible publishing.

The Lithuanian Bible was largely the work of 17th century scholar Samuel Boguslav Chylinski, who studied theology at the University of Franeker (1653 - 1657). His actual translation was done in London where he lived while his home country was ravaged by Contra-Reformation conflicts. In addition to the Dutch translation, Chylinski also used Polish, Greek and Latin bibles in his work. Kavaliunaite was struck by the similarities between the Dutch and the Lithuanian translations. A number of Dutch expressions appear in the Lithuanian Bible's footnotes.

At the time of Chylinski's efforts, two other Lithuanians were translating bibles as well, causing Chylinski to compete for financial support. In 1663, Chylinski was relieved of his mandate after others raised misgivings about the quality of his work. Only the bible books Genesis through Psalms were printed although Kavaliunaite thinks Chylinski completed translating the entire Bible. In 1933, a hand-written manuscript by Chylinski turned up at an auction in England. It proved to be his translation of the New Testament. Between 1958 and 1984 the manuscript was finally published by two Polish scholars. In retrospect, Chylinski's firing had little to do with his work but more likely with politics.

To Dutch supporters, the Lithuanian translation proves once again that the influence of the 'Statenvertaling' went well beyond Dutch borders. There is also an English translation of the Dutch Bible which itself is still used by orthodox Reformed groups in the Netherlands. Chylinski died in 1668. The University of Franeker, founded as the second one in the country in 1585, closed its doors in 1843.