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Prof A. Van Selms

(1906 - 1984)

Prof Adrianus van Selms was nie net ’n internasionaal bekende kundige in Semitiese tale nie, maar ook ’n oorlogsheld wat drie jaar in ’n krygsgevangenekamp in Japan deurgebring het. Prof Van Selms was die hoof van die Universiteit van Pretoriase Departement Semitiese Tale en was bekend vir sy omvattende kennis van Semitiese tale, insluitende Akadies, Hebreeus en Nuwe Hebreeus, Aramees, Fenisies, Punies,Arabies, Egipties, Hittities en vergelykende Semitiese filologie. Hy word deur baie beskou as die ‘vader van die studie van Semitiese tale in Suid-Afrika’. Prof Van Selms – geborein Nederland – het sy studies in Semitiese tale en ‘ander verwante vakke’ in 1928 aan die Universiteit van Utrecht voltooi en sy teologiegraad in 1933 verwerf. Sy passie virSemitiese tale het ontstaan nadat hy aan ’n argeologiese opgrawing in Sigem in die Verre Ooste deelgeneem het. Nadat hy sy studies voltooi het, is Prof Van Selms as ’n predikantin Hansweert en Culemborg georden. Gedurende hierdie tyd is hy as sekretaris van die provinsiale Kerkraad van Zeeland verkies. In 1938 het hy ’n posisie as senior dosent inSemitiese tale aan UP aanvaar. Twee jaar later het hy by die Nederlandse Oos-Indiese Weermag aangesluit om in die Tweede Wêreldoorlog te veg. Hy is tot die rang van kapteinbevorder en is tydens ’n veldslag gevange geneem. Ná sy vrylating het hy sy pligte by UP hervat en is hy in 1948 tot hoof van die Departement Semitiese Tale bevorder. Hy het aanbiedings van leerstoele by verskeieander Suid-Afrikaanse en oorsese universiteite van die hand gewys en by UP aangebly. Hy het sy belangstelling in argeologie behou en was lid van ’n ekspedisie wat opgrawings in Israel, Europa en die Nabye-Ooste gedoen het. Hy het erkenningontvang vir sy navorsing van die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, die Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie voor Wetenschappen, die Suid-Afrikaanse Ou-Testamentiese Werkvereniging, die Genootschap Ex Orientale Lux en die BritishOld Testament Society. In 1977 het hy ’n eredoktorsgraad in teologie van die Universiteit van Suid-Afrika (Unisa) ontvang en in 1982 die graad DLitt (honoris causa) van UP. Alhoewel Prof Van Selms in 1971 afgetree het, het hy as deeltydse dosent inteologie gedien. Hy het 22 boeke gepubliseer, waaronder verklarende notas oor sommige Bybelboeke, asook die beryming van evangeliese gesange. Hy was outeur of mede-outeur van meer as ’n honderd wetenskaplike artikels en meer as 200 populêrewetenskaplike artikels. Hy was die redakteur van die Pretoria Oriental Series, De Prediking van het Oude Testament, Kerk en Theologhie, Prof Veritate en De Nederlandsche Post.

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Prof Adrianus van Selms was not only an internationally renowned expert in Semitic languages, but also a war hero whospent three years in a prisoner-of-war camp in Japan. Prof van Selms was head of the University of Pretoria’s Department of Semitic Languages and was known for his extensive knowledge of Semitic languages, including Acadian, Hebrew and NewHebrew, Aramaic, Fenician, Punic, Arabic, Egyptian, Hittite and comparative Semitic philology. He is considered by many as the ‘father of the study of Semitic languages in South Africa’. Prof van Selms — born in The Netherlands — completed hisstudies in Semitic languages and ‘other related subjects’ at the University of Utrecht in 1928 and obtained his theology degree in 1933. His passion for Semitic languages was awakened after taking part in an archeological dig in Sigem in the Far East.After completing his studies, Prof van Selms was ordained as a minister in Hansweert and Culemborg. During this time he was elected as secretary of the Provincial Church Council of Zeeland. In 1938, he accepted a position as senior lecturer in Semiticlanguages at UP. Two years later he joined the Dutch East-Indian Army to fight in World War II. He was promoted to the rank of captain and was capturered during a battle. After his release, he re-assumed his duties at UP and in 1948 was promoted to headof the Department of Semitic Languages. He declined offers of Chairs by various other South African and foreign universities and remained at UP. His retained his interest in archeology and was a member of an expedition that did excavations in Israel,Europe and the Near East. He received recognition for his research from the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie voor Wetenschappen, the South African Old Testament Work Society, the GenootschapEx Orientale Lux and the British Old Testament Society. He received an honorary doctorate in theology from the University of South Africa (Unisa) in 1977 and the degree DLitt (honoris causa) from UP in 1982. Although Prof van Selms retired in 1971,he served as a part-time lecturer in theology. He published 22 books, including explanatory notes on some of the Bible books, as well as the versification of evangelical hymns. He authored or co-authored more than a hundred scientific articles and morethan 200 popular scientific articles. He was editor of the Pretoria Oriental Series, De Prediking van het Oude Testament, Kerk en Theologhie, Prof Veritate and De Nederlandsche Post.