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Russel Viljoen

Jan Paerl (1761-1851) was the initiator of what is arguably the first millenarian movement in colonial South Africa. In this biography of the Khoikhoi Jan Paerl light is being shed on this new form of resistance against colonial domination in Cape society. As the prophet, Onsen Liewen Heer, Paerl initiated a quasi-millenarian movement by persuading believers to reassert their Khoikhoi identity and reclaim the “land of their forefathers”.
This study discusses Paerl’s post-prophetic activities, his trial and incarceration, the clash with his colonial master, his appropriation of mission Christianity and his last years as a Moravian Christian.
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This study presents the religious factor in the development of a separatistic group identity among the forebears of the Afrikaners during the Dutch colonial period of South African history. Dutch Reformed covenant theology and baptism practice rooted in the thousand generation covenant theory helped to shape this self-understanding.
It traces the basic developments of covenant theology in the Netherlands during the period and demonstrates how these concepts were conveyed to colonial South Africa. The dominant strain of covenantal thought treated the entire community as redeemed and called to be separate. It was presented through a variety of means through which virtually every colonist was exposed.
This study offers a balanced historical approach to the role of theological concepts in the colonial roots of Afrikaner group identity. It answers traditional scholarship in the field which either directly identify the concepts behind the development of apartheid with Calvinist theology or, more recently, deny that the Reformed faith had any role in the development of apartheid ideology until the twentieth century.