Calvin College Chimes

Reformation panel discusses Dutch Bibles on 501st anniversary

The+panel+preparing+for+the+packed+event.
The panel preparing for the packed event.

The panel preparing for the packed event.

Nick D'Onofrio

Nick D'Onofrio

The panel preparing for the packed event.

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The Reformation had a lasting impact on the Dutch in the Netherlands but it took a while to gain traction, Reformation historian and director of the Meeter Center Karin Maag explained at the Meeter Center’s Reformation Day panel on the 501st anniversary of Reformation Day.

Maag further explained that the Lutheran movement never really gained traction because Catholic rulers didn’t want pushback. It wasn’t until 1656, the time of great expansion, that the Reformation finally dawned in the Netherlands with a push from preachers. In particular, the Statenvertaling (Staten for short), a Dutch translation of the Bible, had a profound impact, with “thousands of expressions and idioms from Staten still being used by the Dutch language to this day,” explained Herman De Vries, Calvin’s Frederik Meijer Chair in Dutch Language and Culture.

Additionally, history professor Frans van Liere struck down multiple Protestant myths. A common myth before the Reformation was that the Bible was only allowed to be translated into Latin, with no exception. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as Liere explained that “The Bible in the middle ages wasn’t in Latin only; it wasn’t as much a barrier as people think it was, as Latin was a common language at the time.” The Bible had also been written in the vernacular, with the oldest Dutch Bible (the Liège Diatessaron) dating back to 1260.

Art historian Henry Luttikhuizen described Dutch Bible illustrations and how pictures were generally okay in the ancient text but “it’s just a matter of which pictures are okay and which are not.” He then showed the audience a drawing of Noah speaking to God; the illustration of God had been completely scratched out and replaced with text.

The event, “The Word of God Endures Forever: The Bible in the Dutch Reformation,” took place on Wednesday, October 31.

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