donderdag 14 mei 2015

Six Volumes about Protestantism in East Indonesia under VOC Patronate. A conversion of Tom van den End

On 8 May 2015 there was a festive meeting in the centre of The Hague, in the building of the Royal Library at the occasion of the presnetation of the six volumes of Bronnen betreffende de geschiedenis van Kerk en School in de gouvernementen Ambon, Ternate en Banda ten tijde van de Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC), 1605-1791. They are available, for free, on the internet, but it is also possible to buy printed copies of this series.
This long title is the complete name for the completion of a progamme that started in the mid-1990s. After Tom van den End had published with Chris de Jong en Mariette van Selm nine volumes on the period after 1800, Henk Niemeijer was commissioned to work on publication of the VOC religious archives. For the church council of Batavia this work had been completed already during the colonial period. Now the archives of the correspondance between Ambon, Ternate, Banda with the central church council in Batavia have been published. It was a happening with interesting talks. Gerrit Knaap opened the session as the representative of Huygens Institute for Dutch History.
Prof. Jos Gommans of Leiden University (non-Western, mostly colonial history, but not a specialist for Indonesia) started with an interesting talk on regions outside Indonesia. On one of the pictures he showed, we see here an image from the court of the Mugals: A Jesuit with his black cap is sitting besides Aurangzeb (with a turban) as a sign of the religious talks at the court in the Mugal Empire. (From Cornelius Hazart, Kerckelycke Historie, a very strong anti-Calvninist and anti-Muslim work by a Jesuit, around 1670).
Fred van Lieburg of the Free University of Amsterdam gave a talk on the place of Missionary History in modern research and gave a plea for including this history under the general label of Church or religious history.
The first truly to talk about VOC archives was Henk Nieumeijer, who was the executive researcher for the project, somehwre between 1995-200. Since he has worked with the TANAP programme and is now in Jakarta for Cort Stichting, to rescue archives in Jakarta. He found, selected archives, made the first transcription.

The final work on the publication of these sources was done by Tom van den End, between 2009 and 2015. He had a very interesting and personal talk about these many pages (some 3500 in print!). 1) He illustrated the modernity of the merchant: there was an efficient apparatus for disaster help, needed in cases of earth quakes, floods, starvation. It provided education (albeit mostly religious only) also for girls. 2) there was a high number of ministers who died at young age. 10% of the 253 ministers who were nominated for the Indies did not arrive in Batavia, but died during the journey. Many also did not survive the first months. 3) Many ministers wrote translations, sermons, hymns in Malay (although it was mostly translations). Van den End 'converted' in his opinion about Valentyn. Had was for 2/3 right in his plea to use the colloquial Malay of East Indonesia, especially Ambon and not the formal 'High Malay' of the royal/sultanate courts of more Western regions. 4) He resented the lack of personal document and more narrative texts. It is always very impersonal. 5) He was very angry about the constant negative reports about local Christians. It is one long complaint of these ministers (jammerklacht): they are stupid, do not know their religion, do not want to learn. Tom asked whether after about 200 years and the work of so many local teachers there was nothing more than that. He judged that the 19th century missionaries were absolutely different from the 17th and 18th century government officials/church ministers.

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