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August 1, 2011
Foundation and Dr. Steven Paas are happy to anounce the publication of their
Rebmann: A Servant of God in Africa before the Rise of Western
As the author, Steven Paas shares this feeling
especially with with the Johannes Rebmann Foundation in Gerlingen and with the
Publishers, Verlag für Theologie und Religionswissenschaft (VTR) in Nürnberg and
Verlag für Kultur und Wissenschaft (VKW) in Bonn, Germany. ISBN
978-3-941750-48-7 (VTR) / ISBN 978-3-86269-029-9 (VKW). The book has 274 pages
and the retail price is 19.80 Euros. For information on how to order, click here
VTR online or here Amazon.com.
Johannes Rebmann played an important
role in the history of dictionaries of Chichewa or Chinyanja.
Rebmann’s collection of Chichewa-English vocabulary in the 1850s,
was printed in 1877 as the Dictionary of the Kiniassa Language. He
shares his place in history with Salimini, a Malawian slave
who served him as informant. Rebmann and Salimini belong to the
earliest fathers of Chichewa Lexicography. Apart from the linguistic
aspect of Rebmann’s work, I am impressed by his spiritual
characteristics. As a missionary in the Mombasa area from 1844 to 1875,
he was instrumental in founding the Church in East Africa and in
preparing mission to Central Africa, including Malawi. I am convinced
that we all can profit from taking away the veils of history that have
The study is meant as a scholarly presentation of facts and aspects of
Rebmann’s life and work. As such it is a monograph and a
biography. It taps not only the German literary sources, but also the
more numerous Rebmann documents in English.
We trust that the Rebmann Biography will throw more light on the
missionary, his spiritual and linguistic work, and his place in the
pattern of 19th century relationships between Europe and Africa.
Chapter 1 is an introduction, surveying available literature. Chapter 2
pictures the setting of German Pietism that fed Rebmann. Chapters 3-8
describe the course of his life. Chapters 9 and 10 deal with his work
as a linguist, particularly as a lexicographer. The two Appendices to
the book are especially related to these chapters on Rebmann’s
linguistic significance. Chapter 11 reviews the various aspects of his
work as a missionary. Chapter 12 is an evaluation of the impact Rebmann had on developments after him.