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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Individual and Collective Notions of the 'Promised Land': The 'Private' Writings of Boer Emigrants
Author:Coetzee, CarliISNI
Periodical:South African Historical Journal
Geographic term:South Africa
historical sources
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Ethnic and Race Relations
Religion and Witchcraft
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02582479508671825
Abstract:Around the 'Great Trek' has developed a body of literature in which the emigrants are credited with viewing themselves as a 'chosen people', travelling out of what they regarded as Egypt to the 'promised land'. The present author argues that the emigrants did not collectively draw on the Old Testament to forge a coherent group identity. In the private writings of the emigrants the New Testament, with its injunction to self-transformation and the development of a 'private' self and identity, seems a much stronger influence than the Old Testament. This argument relies primarily on a reading of the writings of the Dutch missionary and unofficial preacher to the emigrants, Erasmus Smit. His diary is the contemporary source that is generally cited as providing the most authoritative evidence of the emigrants' view of themselves as a 'chosen people'. The present author shows that this text may best be read as a scarcely veiled attempt by Smit to position himself as one of the official leaders of the group and to construct a unified identity for the group which was divided in its concerns and in its views on the importance of religion in the camps. Notes, ref.