Cover Image: First Nations Version

First Nations Version

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“Father,” he prayed, “honor your name and show the world the beauty of it.” Suddenly, a voice from above spoke out of the sky, “I have honored my name, for it represents who I am, and I will once again honor and show the beauty of it.” —John 12:28 (FNT)

I'm enjoying perusing this new translation of the Bible. It helps me see the same passages through a fresh perspective and new insights. I think it is beautifully and thoughtfully done and the stylistic choices, like having the traditional name of people/places after the First Nations Translation but in a smaller font, allow for comfortable reading without confusion and without interfering with the flow of the text. 

Apart from being a fascinating translation,  seeing the words preform in a different cultural context also helps us see how our western eyes shape and bring preconceived ideas to texts that the original writers may have read very different. 

This is a lovely translation to read alongside my more traditional translations. I'm enjoying the poetic language and reworking of familiar phrases that help reorient and refresh over familiar passages.
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What an accomplishment. The gospel and epistles et al through the eyes of a native American. I read through the Bible chronologically each year, rotating through various translations and paraphrases. I look forward to using this one to better understand a native perspective.
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I truly enjoyed this translation of the New Testament. It opened my eyes to a number of theological insights that I had missed on previous readings, and I plan to use it regularly in my future Bible study as I continue to try to decolonize my Christian faith. I look forward to the hopeful publication of the Old Testament First Nations Version!
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This is a wonderful text and it was fascinating to read through familiar passages and note the subtle changes. In fact, the differences were not as big as I expected, as many of the metaphors remain the same. In all, I think it is an important resource and I hope that it will be useful in the very real healing needed between First Nations people and the church.
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Gorgeous. Important. Impactful. This version will absolutely change the ways you approach and read Scripture, in all great ways! This translation is definitely different, and may not be the most simple to read at first, but as you continue reading, and stay open to the newness, it will really speak to you. This is a resource that will absolutely draw people into the heart of God, and I am so grateful that this resource exists AND has been created BY First Nations leaders. As someone in full-time ministry, this is a gift! Thank you IVP for this resource; I can only pray that the Lord, Great Father, will use this in mighty ways.
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Gorgeously written, with explanations and great details to show the many different people and groups involved. Beautiful lyricism with a different perspective than the normal usual Anglo-European translations. I look forward to delving into this further.
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First Nations Version bridges a huge gap between European Christianity and Indigenous theology, and in a palatable manner at that. The text is in a digestible format without becoming too convoluted, staying true to the roots of blended cultures and not shying away from the richness of the history within.
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The "First Nations Version" of the New Testament is an exquisite, sacred and inspiring literary masterpiece. This fresh translation has brought me to tears and opened up a beautiful space within my heart to see the Bible afresh. I highly recommend this work!
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A missionary to a faraway native tribe had tried to share the gospel to the natives for many years but to no avail. Each time he brought up the story of God and Jesus, the locals would dismiss him and maintained that they already had a god, and they don't need another new one. This went on for a long time and the missionary was naturally frustrated. Then came an insight. What happens if he does away with the semantics and focuses on the shared concepts: that there is Higher Power, a Divine Being of Love and Goodness, and that there are more similarities than differences? So,  he started sharing the gospel using common terms that the locals would understand. By contextualizing his message, his audience became more receptive to the gospel message. One of the major ways of contextualizing a message is via translation. The Bible is the Word of God for people in this world. The original languages used are Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. In the history of the Church, the Bible has been translated into many different languages so that people could read it in their own language. The name "First Nations" is widely used in Canada to refer to the indigenous people of the land. It is also recognized in the United States. Thus the "First Nations Version" is essentially a translation in English using familiar culture, linguistics, and relevant meaning to those who are First Nations people. The translation council comprises many representatives from over 25 First Nations tribes. It aims to be both faithful to the original texts and clear to the present audiences. It uses English because it is a more common language among the many different tribal groups. That is also because many new generations of the First Nations are not as fluent in their native languages compared to their predecessors. With the support and expertise from people with translation work experience, this collaborative effort is impressive. Some of the important terms used include:

- God referred to as the "Great Spirit," "Creator," "Giver of Breath," "Maker of Life," etc
- Jesus is "the Chosen One," "Creator Sets Free," 
- Rabbi as "Wisdom Keeper"
- Pharisees as "the Separated Ones"
- Jerusalem as "Sacred Village of Peace"
- Romans as "People of Iron"
- John as "Goodwill"
- Paul as "Small Man"
- Timothy as "He Gives Honor"
- Blessed as "Creator's Blessing rests on"
- Martha as "Head Woman" while Mary is "Healing Tears"
It is a fascinating take on the meaning of the names and places rather than the literal usage. I like the way this translation paraphrases that. When looking at the famous chapter in Acts 2, the people who gathered had their places of origins explained in simple words. For instance, Parthia is the "Land of Victory," Pontus as "Black Water," Asia as "Land of the Rising Sun." When it comes to the book of Revelation, the letters to the Seven Churches, I loved how the meaning of the letter gets translated into the name of the Church as well. The Church of Ephesus as "Village of Desire," Smyrna as "Village of Bitter Herbs," Pergamum as "Village of First in Courage," Philadelphia as "Village of Family of Friends," and Laodicea as "Village of the People Will Decide." Just by the naming, we get a picture of the judgment on that particular Church (village). At the end of the book is a helpful glossary of biblical terms for quick and easy reference. 

My Thoughts
Honestly, this translation more resembles a paraphrase instead of the stated dynamic equivalent. The meaning has been incorporated into many names, locations, and places. It is a refreshing read on the Bible to shed greater light on the meaning of the text. Sometimes, we can become too familiar with one particular translation that we miss out on important nuances. A different translation helps us compare and contrast the meanings to give us another dimension in understanding. This translation does appear wordier but as long as it is clear, it is ok. I really enjoy the expanded descriptions of the name. Seeing how the great apostle Paul is described as "Small Man" definitely raises a chuckle. I appreciate the simple terms used to describe the names that are harder to pronounce, especially the places mentioned in Acts 2. I also enjoyed reading the genealogy in Matthew 1, which brings great clarity to the meaning of the names mentioned. No longer do we need to jump to a Bible dictionary just to check out a particular meaning of the name. Instead, this version gives it to us directly. Some of the translated names are open to dispute, such as Rahab being called "Boastful Woman" and Babylon as "Village of Confusion." The use of "village" as a people group could become problematic because it does not adequately distinguish a nation from a Church. Generalization is quite common which could also pose some confusion. For example, are all Greeks "wisdom seekers?" What do we mean by Colossae as "land of giants?" Perhaps, it takes one from a First Nations background to understand the contexts behind each term used. Nevertheless, I think it is wise for the translators to include the original words in brackets so that we could link the paraphrase with the original word. That helps people who do not have any First-Nations background to read and appreciate the passage, which brings me to the next point.

Supplement this version with a conventional version. This helps readers to compare and contrast the text itself to clarify, illuminate, and understand. Given that this version is a paraphrase, having a more literal translation next to this would be most helpful. There is a lot of fresh perspectives we can learn from this version. Apart from an easily understood name description, we learn about the interpretive angle from a non-Anglo Western perspective. Many of our existing English language translations are based on Western English-speaking culture. No wonder it is difficult for First Nations people to appreciate. Due to the colonial past, First Nations communities tend to be suspicious of any attempts that resemble the past government assimilation policies. They would prefer to retain their culture as much as possible. 

Finally, this version might help the rest of North America to understand First Nations culture and people more. We need more bridges instead of walls. We need more understanding instead of suspicions. We need more friends than enemies. This new translation will help achieve all of them in some way. I look forward to the Old Testament being translated next so as to complete this creative project.

Terry M. Wildman (Ojibwe and Yaqui) is the lead translator, general editor, and project manager of the First Nations Version. He serves as the director of spiritual growth and leadership development for Native InterVarsity. He is also the founder of Rain Ministries and has previously served as a pastor and worship leader. He and his wife, Darlene, live in Arizona.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.

This book has been provided courtesy of InterVarsity Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
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This book made reading the New Testament again very doable project for me. I have been turned away from religion for many years of my life . Having been raised very monotheistic and traditional in scope I have looked at other religions all my life and tried to find one that I resonated with. First Nation traditions and rituals are very important for many people. Including me. When I saw this being offered I could not wait to read it. To finally understand the religion I grew up in , in a way that makes more sense to my mind. I truly love this story. The descriptions of the Apostles and Jesus, his Mother and the other people who were part of the New Testament were so obvious that I never thought of them that way. If you are religious and trying to understand Christianity in a way that is profound please read this book . I felt a great peace again after reading the many parts I remembered from my youth but now written so they really speak to me, Excellent.
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You don't really noticed how much your idea of Scripture has been influenced by your particular culture (written vs oral, Western vs Eastern, etc.) until you read a Bible translation from another culture. I quite enjoyed the interesting experience of reading this, seeing how the language shifts and how I noticed subtleties I hadn't picked up on before.
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