A new translation of the New Testament seeks to provide God’s word to Indigenous peoples in language that echoes their cultural and linguistic heritage.
“First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament,” published Aug. 31 by InterVarsity Press, has been nearly 20 years in the making, according to Terry Wildman, a pastor in the United Methodist Church, who told Religion News Service the idea for an Indigenous Bible translation first came to him in the storeroom of the church he was serving on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona.
Wildman, who Ojibwe and Yaqui, envisioned Scripture passages reworded into Native American vernacular, a sound he said he’d learned by being around Native elders and reading books written in a more traditional style of English by Native American authors and spiritual leaders.
Wildman served as lead translator and project manager of the First Nations Version. As the project developed, related efforts, including spoken word recordings, Bible study materials for students and a collection of short animated films from The Jesus Film Project, have used the First Nations Version.
‘Made for us’
Megan Murdock Krischke, national director of Native InterVarsity, said students have been more engaged with the translation, hearing the Bible in a way they’re used to stories being told.
“Even though it’s still English, it feels like it’s made by us for us,” said Krischke, who is Wyandotte and Cherokee. “This is a version of Scripture that is for Native people, and it’s indigenized. You’re not having to kind of sort through the ways other cultures talk about faith and spirituality.”
Click here to read more about the First Nations Version translation of the New Testament.