Joh. Christoph Auerbach translator of third Gospel Harmony?

From about 1780 on  Lieberkühns 1769 Gospel Harmony was translated five times into Negerhollands. The first two, both from about 1780 (321 and 322 in Clarin-NEHOL), were without doubt translated and written by Johann Böhner. Of the third and fourth translation (3231 and 3232) it was clear that Johann Böhner was not the writer. The texts are probably from around 1790, about five years after Böhner’s death. The fifth translation (3110, not in Clarin-NEHOL) is the printed version from 1833 which had a circulation of  2,000 to be distributed among the Christianized slaves.

Preliminary examination of the handwriting of the letter in which the missionary Joh. Christoph Auerbach (Van Rossem & Van der Voort 1996:  8-9) presents metalinguistic information about the languages of the Danish Antilles, show that it resembles the one used in manuscript 3231.  Manuscript 3232 looks a little different, especially the initial [s] differs from the one in the letter and in 3231.

Auerbach (1726-1792) arrived in the Caribbean together with Oldendorp in 1766. In Commented Edition of the Original Manuscript of C.G.A. Oldendorp (Herrnhut 2002) his name appears a few times  in the second part/3, from p.1666 on. The most important metalinguistic remark, from 1767, is:

“Auerbach, der zum Dienst am Evangelio unter den Schwarzen, sobald er ihre Sprache könnte und insonderheit zur Besorgung der Rechnungbücher und anderer schriftlichter Sachen bestimmt war, trat gleich in diese Arbeit ein, legte sich auf die criolische Sprache die er bald fasste, (…)” (Oldendorp 2002: II, 3, p. 1682)

This quote means that Auerbach learned the language in the Danish Antilles and mastered it quickly. Unfortunately we do not have other information about his knowledge of Negerhollands, apart from the very interesting letter from 1774.

Auerbach passed away in Friedensberg, St. Croix on January 21, 1792. If he is the translator of text 3231, we can be certain it is from before that date.  If he spend his last year mostly on St. Croix, this may be the answer to the question why manuscript 3231 seems to show more English elements than the other Negerhollands Gospel Harmonies.

Please compare the examples yourself in the added file.

Auerbach 3231 3232


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