Translating the Book of Mormon into Afrikaans

I learned this story from David Allen, the creator of the scientifically known Allen Variants and author of the book “Its About Time”. This article is taken directly from his own website at

The magic of phrasing is appreciated by a linguist, and our story begins with a gifted linguist back in 1971 when the Book of Mormon was critically needed in the Afrikaans language in South Africa.  To meet this need, the mission president, Harlon Clark, reached out to Professor Felix Mijnhardt of Pretoria University, a member of the Dutch Reformed Church.  He declined because he knew his university and church would not appreciate him helping the Mormons.

That night in his prayers, the Spirit convicted him.  Professor Mijnhardt had been asking the Lord for a special task to use his linguistic skills, and the Spirit whispered that the Lord had given him the Book of Mormon to translate and he had declined.  After a sleepless night, he called President Clark the next morning and told him he would do it.

As was his manner, he did not start at the beginning of the book to translate it.  He went to the middle of the book and immediately recognized and was astonished to find out that the Book of Mormon was not authored in English.  With his linguistic gift, he felt that the best approach would be to translate it from English back into its original language and then from that language to Afrikaans — at least at those places that were difficult.  In this way he would have more accuracy in the translation.

He spent months trying several different languages.  He “finally tried Egyptian,” and said, “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.” [1] Then he started his translation and was touched to the core of his soul when he read, “I Nephi… make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and language of the Egyptians.”  While sharing his experience in a Stake Conference in Johannesburg, he said, “I could have saved myself months of work if I had just begun at the beginning,” and that he knew Joseph Smith was a prophet of God when he did the translation. [1]   Jokingly, he further said, “How many Englishmen write or say, ‘And it came to pass.’”  Everyone laughed. [1]

Professor Mijnhardt felt called of the Lord to perform this important translation. [1] According to the Professor’s on statement, he was probably the only one on the planet at that time that knew English, Hebrew, ancient Egyptian, and Afrikaans fluently.[1]


[1] Journey to the Veil by John Pontius, compiled by Terri Pontius, pp 144-148.  John was a missionary and heard Professor Mijnhardt share his experience in the Stake Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. (See also March 1973 ENSIGN regarding this translation event)

Brian Newbold, Professor of Engineering at Snow College, was also a missionary in South Africa and wrote in his journal about the Professor Mijnhardt translation experience.  David Allen has his story.

David Allen has authorized me to take this information from his website and share it here. I highly recommend his book Its About Time. To obtain his book, go to