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Theological Seminary
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Theological Seminary

F. C. Fensham

1925 - 1989

Charles Fensham

Author of scholarly publications on the Old Testament and Semitic Studies
and on Afrikaans Culture

Professor of Semitic Languages
at Stellenbosch University, 1962 - 1985
Dean of the Faculty of Humanities

Frank Charles Fensham was born on 13 October 1925 in Heilbron, Orange Freestate, and grew up in Koppies.
He studied at the University of Pretoria (B.A. M.A. cum laude, B.D. and D.D.) and
at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, where he obtained a second D.D.
He also studied singing for eight years with Miss Wandeldt. He had a baritone voice and enjoyed especially the German Kunstlied.
In 1950 Charles Fensham was appointed lecturer at Stellenbosch University. He also served as pastor at the Rhenish congregation for many years.
1962 - 31.12. 1985: Professor of Semitic Languages at the University of Stellenbosch.
He was a member of the Council of Stellenbosch University and also served as member of the councils of the Universities of the Western Cape and of Port Elizabeth. In 1981 he was voted president of the SA Akademie van Wetenskap en Kuns.
Owing to a major operation he had to cancel an invitation to act as guest professor at Cambridge in 1969.

Charles Fensham was married to Yvonne Theron and they had two daughters and one son.

"The work and life of Charles Fensham can never be described without referring to his invaluable service to and enhancement of Afrikaans culture.
He played a leading role in the tricentennnial festivities commemorating the founding of Stellenbosch.
His Bosorchestra - he played the concertina - did much to enrich folkmusik.
He wrote a vast number of popular articles dealing with the cultural heritage of the Afrikaner. As chairman of the Stellenbosse Heemkring he has contributed immensely to the conservation of important documents and folklore, and to the restoration of buildings and objets d'art.
His role as the national chairman of the Afrikaanse Skrywerskring (Writers Association) is also praiseworthy as well as his enthousiastic encouragement of authors, both young and old, to publish their works.
He was also co-editor of the first major general encyclopedia (ten volumes) in Afrikaans.
(He was) chairman of a committee which organized the festivities to commemorate the coming of the French Huguenots to South Africa in 1688."
W. Claassen : A Tribute to Frank Charles Fensham in Text and Context, 48
Old Testament and Semitic Studies for F.C. Fensham, 1988 (compiled to celebrate his 60th birthday)

Fulbright and Smith-Mundt scholarships 1958
Was elected national chairman of the South African Academy of Science and Arts
Totius Prize for his decisive role in fostering Biblical studies, languages and history 1984
Doctor honoris causa, University of the Orange Free State

List of works:

Author and co-author of 31 books and monographs, 180 refereed articles and 245 contributions to the SA Encyclopedia. He also founded international journals of Semitic languages.

Books and Monographs:

Is Israel nog die uitverkore volk?, N.G. Kerk-Uitgewers,1955; revised 1975
Die Messias kom!, N.G. Kerk-Uitgewers,1957
Die Brief aan die HebreŽrs, N.G. Kerk-Uitgewers,1962/1981
Die Boodskap van Johannes vir ons tyd, N.G. Kerk-Uitgewers,1964
Kultuur in die tyd van die Bybel, S.A.B.C.,1965
'n Ondersoek na die Geskiedenis van die Interpretasie van die Hebreeuse PoŽsie, US. Annals, 1966
Heersers van die Nabye Ooste, Tafelberg, 1970
'n Beknopte Ugaritiese Grammatika, US. Annale, 1970
Die veelkleurige Kleed, Tafelberg, 1971
Reisgids vir Israel, Tafelberg, 1976
Die Dooie See-Rolle en die Bybel, Tafelberg, 1976
Wetenskap en Bybelkunde, Human & Rousseau, 1975
Exodus, Nijkerk: Callenbach, 1970, revised 1977, 1981 in Sotho
De Prediking van het Oude Testament. Kommentaar op Exodus, Callenbach 1977
The books of Ezra and Nehemia, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982

Co-author (among others):

Bybel met Verklarende Aantekeninge, I, 1958
Palestina die heilige land (co-author A. Nel), HAUM, 1965
Bybelse Aardrykskunde, Oudheidkunde en Opgrawings (with J.P.Oberholzer and J.L. Helberg), 1966
Gees van die wingerd (editor: D. J. Opperman), Human & Rousseau, 1968
Openbaringsgeskiedenis. Die Ou Testament. Godsdiensonderrig en Bybelkunde, Interkerklike Uitgewers, 1970
Bybelse Aardrykskunde, Oudheidkunde en Opgrawings (with J.P.Oberholzer), 1972
Geskiedenis van Ou Israel (with D. Pienaar)
Die Bybel leef (editor F.E. Deist)
Stellenbosch Drie Eeue, Stellenbosch Stadsraad en Oude Meester Groep, 1979
Die Stellenbosse Heemkring tien jaar oud (editor), Printpak, 1986,
Drie eeue van genade: Ned. Geref. Gemeente Stellenbosch 1686 - 1986 (editor)
Die Hugenote van Suid-Afrika 1688 - 1988, (editor: P. Coertzen), Tafelberg, 1988
Ou hoofgebou, 'n eeu oud, 1986

A few of the many Book contributions:

Die ou ou Tyding (compiler), N.G. Kerk-Uitgewers, 1972
Illustrated Bible Dictionary , vol II & III, Intervarsity Press, Leicester, England, 1980
Piet Bester, Tradisionele Boeremusiek, Sigma Press, 1987
F.A. Venter (editor), Water
Water in die Bybel , Afrikaanse Pers
The Biblical Archaeologist, Reader 3, (editors Edward F. Campbell and David Neel Freedman

Most of the text by Yvonne Fensham, January 2002

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