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First Nations Version

There’s finally an English to English First Nations Version New Testament (FNV) in the works for the aboriginal people of Turtle Island (North America).

The FNV will help millions of English-speaking First Nations people hear the Creators Word in their heart language. Due to forced assimilation, most First Nations people no longer speak their mother tongue, so an English paraphrase that uses the styles, idioms, nuances, thought forms and patterns of the aboriginal languages and cultures, is long overdue.

Rain Ministries and OneBook, working with a team of 15 Bible translators representing many tribes, denominations, and churches within First Nations communities, are translating the FNV. “This is an exciting project,” says Wayne Johnson, CEO of OneBook. “We aim to maintain church and local community ownership of the project and the final translated First Nations leadership of the project will be overseen by Terry Wildman and an Indigenous group of Bible scholars, pastors and lay people from across Turtle Island. They have been charged with providing leadership to the translation process in a contextual manner within the framework of biblical excellence.”

A draft copy of the Gospel of Luke is presently being reviewed by several hundred First Nations people. Teddy Peterson, an elder in Washington State says, “As a Native American, I could identify with this …” And Native Pastors, Jan and Corb Morgan add, “I think that this has an enjoyable flow to it and I can imagine sitting in a tipi reading it out loud. I believe that the traditional elders would enjoy it …”

Terry Wildman, the First Nations Pastor and musician who initiated the FNV translation, is delighted with the initial response. When conducting a prison Bible study three years ago, he recognized how “many guys struggled with even the NIV – they struggled relating to it … not so much understanding, but relating.”

While there will no doubt be enthusiastic receptivity to the FNV, and much appreciation for a version that First Nations people can relate to, there may be something deeper and more profound that’s happening with this translation project.

In a sex soaked, luxury loving, consumer driven, selfie focused culture; people desperately need fullness of life in Christ. Alcoholism and suicide rates among First Nations people are among the highest in the world. More than ever before, revival is needed. But it needs to begin with the Gatekeepers. In spiritual terms, the First Nations people are the original Gatekeepers of Turtle Island. Biblically speaking, the gatekeepers were the watchmen with the responsibility of protecting the people, keeping them on the right path, warning them of danger, and guiding them in the way of truth. If the ancient paths to knowing and being known by Creator are to be restored, i.e. if we are going to see a renewal of faith in Turtle Island, then we need revival among the First Nations people. And revival, as every student of church history knows, is birthed by the Spirit and fueled by Bible engagement. So pray that the FNV will be the seed that produces a crop that is 30, 60, 100 times what is sown (cf. Mark 4:20).

Creator Sets Free (Jesus) smiled and said to them, “When you send your voice to the Great Spirit, here is how you should pray.”

“O Great Father, the one who lives above us all, your name is sacred and holy. Bring your Good Road to us, where the beauty of your ways in the world above is reflected in the earth below. Provide for us day by day – the elk, the buffalo, and the salmon; the corn, the squash, and the wild rice; all the good things we need every day to feed our families. Release us from the things we have done wrong, in the same way we release others for the things done wrong to us, and guide us away from the things that tempt us to stray from your Good Road.”

Luke 11:2-4 (FNV)

Check this out: First Nations Version Interview With Georgina at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Pziur29Mgg&feature=youtu.be

© Scripture Union Canada 2016


Why Do You Choose To Read A Particular Bible Translation?

Tradition! According to the Canadian Bible Engagement Study people tend to read the translation used in their denomination. To be precise, 40% of Canadian Christians privately read the same translation that’s publicly used in their church worship service. Stereotypically speaking, that means if you’re an Evangelical you’re more likely to be reading the NIV and if you’re a Mainline Protestant or Catholic it’s the NRSV or RSV.

There are hundreds of good English versions of the Bible, but we generally aren’t persuaded to read a particular version because of the translation philosophy or reading level of the translation. While our age is an influence in the translation we choose to read, this is a secondary factor. What ultimately guides our choice of translation is what we see and hear others reading. That is, the version found in our home is often the same version read by our pastor, found in our church pew, cited in our prayer book, read by our parents, or used in the Sunday sermon PowerPoint slides.

That’s not to say we only read one version of the Bible. Protestants (more so than Catholics), and Evangelicals in particular, often read from multiple versions. The ESV is popular as a study Bible and the NLT for readability. Interestingly, the ESV and NLT are each read by 1% of Canadians. In fact just 14 versions of the Bible are read by the majority of Canadians, with 40% of Canadians who read the Bible saying they read the KJV or NIV.

The frequency of Bible reading should also be mentioned as a contributing factor. People who read the Bible regularly (a few times a week) are more likely reading the NIV (23% of Bible readers in Canada) or the KJV (21% of Bible readers in Canada).

Finally, it should be noted that the KJV is the only version that isn’t buttonholed by one or two denominations. Unlike the other versions, it’s read by a significant number of people in all denominations. Why the KJV? Tradition! It has a history of being used with a broad range of English speaking audiences for more than 400 years.

For more information on Bible Translation Choice in Canada, click here to read the full report: www.bibleengagementstudy.ca

© Scripture Union Canada 2014


Pensees and Questions

What will the shape of Bible engagement be in the years to come? Here are some pensees and questions for consideration:

  • Are there imaginative new ways to fuse the dramatic and creative arts with the Word? How can artists who respect the power of truth be encouraged to give creative expression and visual beauty to the Word?
  • We have migrated from Gutenberg to Google. How do we continue to facilitate connections with the Bible so that engagement becomes more than words and images on a screen?
  • Should the Bible be liberated from the constraints of individualism? What new formats might better facilitate communal Bible reading, exploration and reflection?
  • What types of formats, presentation styles or delivery systems of the Scriptures are best suited to communal hermeneutics?
  • How can Bible engagement tied to screen to screen connexity be fused with face to face community?
  • What can or should be done to invite non-Bible readers, both as individuals and in community, to engage with the Bible?
  • How can the profile of the Bible be raised both inside and outside the church?
  • Is there a way to develop online contextualised illustrated display Bibles as public exhibits of how we value the Scriptures?
  • Should we be seeking progressive ways to promote the primacy of the Scriptures? What are the descriptors for this generation that best communicate a high view of the Scriptures?
  • How might hypertext be better used to invite engagement with the Bible? How can we leverge the internet so that more people engage the Bible in ways that result in meaningful encounters with Christ and life transformations?
  • What are the best ways, in today’s context, to invite children and youth to hook up and interact with the Bible so that they ultimately choose to hold a biblical world view?
  • Concerning the Western tendency to compartmentalize and dichotomize: How can we better develop resources to help people engage the Bible with both their heads and their hearts?
  • How can the Bible be shared in real time with suitable symbols and prophetic metaphor?
  • What improvements need to be made with delivery systems so that the Bible is accessed in more multisensory, interactional and user-friendly formats?
  • Would it be helpful to publish a Bible that shows by its formatting what literary genre is primarily being used?
  • How do we teach/educate people to read the Scriptures in context? Is there a way to wean people from manipulating the Bible for selfish or skewed agendas?
  • What are the ways to improve reaching anyone, anywhere, anytime with the Bible?
  • How can we do the above so that favourable conditions are created for divine-human encounters?

What questions or pensees do you have about the shape of Bible engagement in the future?

© Scripture Union Canada 2013

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Family Faith Formation

Family matters! Here are several practical suggestions to help get the family into the Word:

  • Use versions of the Bible suitable for the grade level of each member of the family. You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but some parents give their children the KJV, NRSV, RSV or NASB (versions using grade 11 language). A child should understand what he or she is reading. Consider giving children the NIrV, NCV, TEV or NLT (versions using grade 3-6 language), give teens the CEB or NKJV (versions using grade 8 language) and give young adults the ESV or NIV (versions using grade 10 language).
  • Utilize video, internet and other technology to augment and accentuate the stories of the Bible. About two thirds of 8-18 year olds own cell phones, iPods or MP3 players and about one third own laptops. In a multimedia society it’s essential for families to be able to interact with the Bible electronically. Use social media and other means to share, tweet, text or comment on a verse.
  • Have Scripture easily accessible around the home. Display favourite verses with cool prints. Hang up Scripture posters or write/paint a special text for a child or teen on the walls in their rooms.
  • Enjoy family devotionals after dinner every day. Get everyone involved. Be enthusiastic, authentic and creative. Act out scenes in the Bible with props and costumes, pull out instruments and worship, download YouTube videos, benefit from hearty theological debates, read Bible narratives dramatically with each characters ‘lines’ in the story read by different members of the family, etc.
  • Help children and teens pick out devotionals they like at a local Christian bookstore or online. For great age appropriate Bible reading guides check out  http://scriptureunion.ca/bible-guides
  • Pray and read the Bible with young children before they go to bed. There are excellent biblical books for young children available at http://scriptureunion.ca/books-for-children
  • Be seen to be reading and reflecting on the Bible. More is caught than taught! When we see other members of the family digging into the Word it encourages us to do likewise.

© Scripture Union Canada 2013

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Distractions and Diversions

What is the best English version of the Bible? That’s an important question, isn’t it? And the answer is the ________________ (fill in the blank).

Personally I don’t think preferences for one Bible version or another is that important! In fact it saddens me deeply that there are churches and Christians who will not associate with other churches and Christians because they don’t use the version they use. Shame on us! I find it hard to believe that God authorizes or favors one version of His Word over another.

Arguments about what may or may not be the best version of the Bible are distractions and diversions. Far more important than what Bible we may read is this: Are we meeting God in and through His Word? Are we entering into His Story and finding our part in the drama of salvation? And are we seeing His Word shape and mold us to be more like Him?

That’s not to say that all English versions are equal. All of them are translations from Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. Because all English Bibles are translations, they have limitations. The reality is that even a so called “weak” translation may in parts be better than a “strong” translation. And more, let’s note that both “weak” and “strong” Bible translations, compared to other books, have usually been scrupulously researched, subjected to painstaking textual criticism, and assembled by outstanding scholars.

So what is the best English version of the Bible? The one that gets read! When we read the Bible, be it a “weak” or “strong” translation; let’s remember the Bible is more than words. God is not limited by one version or another. When we read the version in our hands the Holy Spirit can and will lead us to God, incarnate truth, and breathe life into us.

© Scripture Union Canada 2013

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