Jacobus Capitein: Champion for slavery and resisting mimic?
Front Cover of Old Testament Essays, Volume 34, Issue 2, 2021


JEJ Capitein
Bible and Slavery
postcolonial critique

How to Cite

Bosman, H. L. (2021). Jacobus Capitein: Champion for slavery and resisting mimic?. Old Testament Essays, 34(2), 628–645. Retrieved from https://ote-journal.otwsa-otssa.org.za/index.php/journal/article/view/461


Jacobus Eliza Johannes Capitein (1717–1747) was a man of many firsts—the first black student of theology at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, the first black minister ordained in the Dutch Reformed Church in the Netherlands, the author of the first Fante/Mfantse–Dutch Grammar in Ghana as well as the first translator of the Ten Commandments, Twelve Articles of Faith and parts of the Catechism into Fante/Mfantse. However, he is also remembered as the first African to argue in writing that slavery was compatible with Christianity in the public lecture that he delivered at Leiden in 1742 on the topic, De Servitute Libertati Christianae Non Contraria. The Latin original was soon translated into Dutch and became so popular in the Netherlands that it was reprinted five times in the first year of publication. This contribution will pose the question: Was Capitein a sell-out who soothed the Dutch colonial conscience as he argued with scholarly vigour in his dissertation that the Bible did not prohibit slavery and that it was therefore permissible to continue with the practice in the eighteenth century; or was he resisting the system by means of mimicry due to his hybrid identity – as an African with a European education – who wanted to spread the Christian message and be an educator of his people?




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