First Nations Version of the Bible: Check this out!

Check out this new translation that is being put together to reach out to native american peoples. Terry M. Wildman is putting together a paraphrase that seeks to: “…retell, in the tradition of the oral cultures, the story of the Bible. In doing so, I draw on the 15 years of experience I share in relationship with many Native Americans, and also from the 30 years of ministry experience which has included in depth bible study and theological reflection.”

Here’s a sample from John 3:

From John 3:16-17

“Because he loves all people so deeply the Great Spirit gifted us with his Only-born-son. All who trust in him, will not die and fade away, but will find the life that never fades away. Creator did not send his son into this world to punish people and tell them how bad they are, but to rescue them and set them free. The ones who trust him are found “not guilty”, but those who turn away from trusting him have already chosen their fate. They have not believed in the name of Creator’s own son.

“Light has shined into this dark world, but because of their evil ways people loved the dark path more than the light. When they do bad things they don’t want others to find out, so they hide in the darkness and hate the light. But those who are true and do what is right are walking in the daylight so others can clearly see they are following Creator’s Good Road.”

All Scripture Quotations from the FNV © 2013 Terry M. Wildman, Permission to share is granted when authorship and copyright are retained.

Recently, my friend Jason Hess, interviewed Wildman about this project. Below is part of that interview. I hope you will read it in full.

For the average American who may not know the current state of the First Nations people, can you give us a thumbnail sketch of the conditions?

I will share the words of Lakota/Odawa friend Warren Petoskey:

We, Indian people—those of us alive today—have survived five centuries of near-constant assassination and extermination attempts. We have survived genocide, chemical and germ warfare, terrorism, sterilization, relocation, reservations, urbanization, boarding schools, orphanages and the foster care system, all of which were designed to erase the consciousness of what it means to be an Indian in North America. Our hearts have been on the ground because of all these things.

Statistically Indians are the poorest among us. Third world conditions still abound on many reservations. The suicide rate among teenagers is six times higher that the national average. The effects of the past are still with us.

Today there are reservation Indians, Urban Indians, Fullbloods and Mix-bloods, encompassing a wide variety of cultures and languages. Websites and periodicals such as Native Peoples Today magazine and Indian Country Today newspaper and network—all point to the durability and resiliency of America’s First Nations Peoples. Native Americans are making movies, writing books and continue to influence the majority culture in unique and thoughtful ways.

Would you mind sharing a sample of the work you’ve already completed?

From Luke 3:4-6:

A voice is howling in the desert. Clear the pathways! Make a straight path for the coming of the Grand-chief! The low places will be lifted up. The hills and mountains will be brought down low. The crooked places will be made straight and the rough road smooth. Then all people will clearly see the Creator’s Good Road. (FNV)

From Hebrews 1:1-3:

Long ago, in many ways and at many times, the Great Spirit spoke to our ancestors through holymen and prophets. But now, in these last days when everything is to come full circle, he has spoken to all people through his Son—the one he has chosen to give all things to. It is through his Son that the Great Spirit made the world that is, the world that was, and the one that is coming.

He is the light that shines from the Great Spirit’s face and represents him in every way.
It is his powerful Word that holds the stars above, the earth below, and all things seen and unseen, in their place.

He came into this world to perform a once for all ceremony that only he could perform, to purify us from our bad hearts and wrongdoings. When he was finished he returned to the One-above-us-all to sit at the right hand of the Great Mystery. (FNV)

© 2013 Terry M. Wildman, Sharing permitted when authorship and copyright are included.


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  • Jay

    This is really beautiful. Those short passages spoke to my soul more deeply than most of the reading I’ve been doing lately with our “white” renditions of the Bible. Looking forward to picking this up. Thanks for posting.

  • Corky Riley

    Very interesting and poetic in nature but sense I don’t speak or understand many of the words used in the context the author intended, this paraphrase would be of little use to me for serious study or even understanding scripture. I really find a study Bible most helpful when I can read scripture and it accurately reflects in English the meaning of the what the author was saying from the original text and language. The KJV is just beautiful to read bit it would be a lot easier if I was born in England in 1611. If this new work on scripture is helpful for even one person to learn about God’s love then this effort is worth it. Corky

  • Jason Hess

    Thanks for helping get the word out on not only this interview but the project as well!

  • Matthew Gaither

    Very insightful! I pray that this tool would allow for more effective ministry wherever it is used.

  • Jesus wins ALL

    ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.’ (John 3.36). Comments George Hutcheson: “It is the prerogative of Christ above all others . . that He is the object of saving faith.” We do not perceive the excellence and fulness of Christ, he continues, till we are drawn out of ourselves and brought to close with Him by faith. All who refuse to do this are “eternally secluded” [the old word for ‘excluded’ or kept back] from God’s presence and company. God’s rejection of all ‘outside Christ’ could hardly be more forcefully stated. The awful consequence of this is that “unless God’s rejection of us is turned into acceptance we are all lost for ever.” (J.I.Packer).

    A Biblical phrase that expresses the glorious truth that God’s rejection has been turned into acceptance is the term ‘accepted in the Beloved.’ (Eph 1.6). Let Calvin clarify its meaning: “We were not in God’s favour till we were in Jesus Christ . . . We are shut up in the bondage of death till we are ransomed by our Lord Jesus Christ . . . The register in which we are enrolled is our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Jesus Christ is the mirror in which God beholds us when He wishes to find us acceptable to Himself.” In short, it is not by ignoring our sin, nor by accepting us on the grounds of our apology for it, but by condemning it in His dearly-beloved Son and uniting believers to Him in that condemnation, that God accepts anyone.

    Let us consider this. By a unique, transcendent agreement between the persons of the Godhead, God sent and dealt with His Son in our nature as if He, and not us, had been rejected. But how could He do this justly when Christ was the object of His infinite, eternal and unchangeable love and delight? By His Son consenting to be the Substitute for us who deserve eternal rejection and by making His soul [and body] the offering for His people’s sin. The Fourth Servant Song of Isaiah (52.13-53.12) is packed with details of this glorious transaction: ‘Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows… He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed… and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all… for the transgression of my people was He stricken. . . He shall bear their iniquities. . . He bare the sin of many.’

    Only by putting His people ‘in Christ’ [that is, says Charles Hodge, “in Christ as their head and representative”] could He possibly accept them; for He, and not they, gave satisfaction to God’s offended holiness and justice. As the one great propitiation provided by God Christ was accepted and justified by Him as the only Redeemer of God’s elect, according to the Messianic Third Servant Song in Isaiah 50.7-9. How wonderful that the sentence of God’s holy justice against us for breaking His holy law should be willingly borne for us by Him! (Gal 3.13). As Luther says, by having our sins reckoned to His account, Christ became the greatest transgressor the world has ever seen. It is as if God said to His dear Son: “Be thou Peter the denier, Paul the persecutor, David the adulterer. . . see that thou pay and satisfy for them.” And so the law, finding Christ a sinner by imputation [not by inherent moral pollution] set upon Christ and slew Him, because the wages it doles out to sin is death. All therefore who are ‘in Christ’ suffered in Him and died with Him. The same glorious truth is spelt out again in 2 Corinthians 5.21- ‘For He [God] bath made Him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.’ As Richard Hooker said long ago: “Man has sinned and God has suffered God has been made the sin of man and man is made the righteousness of God.” Thus not only are believers sins [or their total nonconformity and disobedience to the law of God] imputed to Christ, the Sinless One; but also His righteousness [or spotless obedience to the entire law of God] is imputed to them. In this wonderful way God shows us just how far His love and justice are prepared to go in order to glorify Himself in the salvation of His people. “It was DAMNATION,” cried John Duncan, “and He took it LOVINGLY!”