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Differences in Christendom: religious polemics in the Dutch East Indies and the historical significance of the first Portuguese translation of the Bible (1642-1694)

Grant number: 11/13293-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2011
Effective date (End): March 31, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - Modern and Contemporary History
Principal Investigator:Adone Agnolin
Grantee:Luis Henrique Menezes Fernandes
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):13/20146-0 - A new approach on the elaboration of the first translation of the Bible in Portuguese: the polemist literature in the eastern Dutch-Portuguese domains (1642-1694), BE.EP.DR


The first Portuguese translation of the Bible was done during the second half of the seventeenth century in specific regions of Southeast Asia under the rule of the Dutch East India Company. The main person responsible for this translation was João Ferreira A. d'Almeida (c. 1628-1691), who was born in the Kingdom of Portugal, although he had lived among Dutch missionaries since he was a young man. The first edition of his New Testament translation was published in Amsterdam in 1681, yet the Old Testament books were published only after the mid-eighteenth century in Tranquebar and Batavia. The environment in which this pioneering translation of the Bible was designed is substantially characterized by the Catholic-Protestant theological quarrels, originally intra-European, yet amplified in the East Indies over the seventeenth century due to the Dutch maritime and commercial expansion into regions formerly under the influence of the Iberian kingdoms. Besides the Portuguese Bible translation, this context characterized by conflicts on the definition of Christian orthodoxy noted the production of an extensive and unique literature on religious controversy in the Portuguese language, produced not only by the translator himself, but also by Roman Catholic missionaries who stood up against his work and teachings in the East Indies. Thus, the main purpose of this study is to reveal the historical-religious significance of the Portuguese translation of the Holy Scriptures in its peculiar historicity, considering the intrinsic relationship between its meaning and the surrounding milieu of acute religious conflicts. Taking into consideration the resolutions passed by the Council of Trent (1545-1563) against the proliferation of unauthorized Bible versions, the act of translation by itself, in this context, emerged as the result of a position at the same time Modern, Protestant, and anti-Catholic. Nevertheless, not losing sight of the structural historical movements that underlie the creation of this peculiar object of the Modern Age, the different sections of this work might converge in order to deepen the historical understanding of a Bible translation still widely acknowledged throughout the Portuguese-speaking world.

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(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
FERNANDES, Luis Henrique Menezes. Differences in Christendom: the religious controversy in the Dutch East Indies and the historical significance of the first Portuguese translation of the Bible (1642-1694). 2016. Doctoral Thesis - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/SBD) São Paulo.

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