First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament

I've been doing a lot of reading lately about the reception of Christianity among Native Americans. More to come about that tomorrow.

BTW, there's a lot of diversity on the proper term to use here. From my research, Native American, American Indian, First Nations, and Indigenous Peoples are all acceptable. But whenever possible, it is proper to speak of an individual's tribal group.

During these explorations I came across a new resource that I wanted to share with you, the First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament

Published in 2021, the First Nations Version (FNV) is a dynamic equivalence translation, made with the input of over 25 tribes, that renders the biblical text in Native American idiom and imagery. It's a startlingly beautiful translation.

For example, the word "God" is often translated "the Great Spirit" or "Creator." The word "gospel" is translated as "the Good Story." It's also common among Native Americans for names be descriptive in nature. Thus, the people and places of the New Testament are given descriptive names. Mary, Jesus's mother, is named "Bitter Tears" in light of Simeon's prophecy: "And a sword, too, will pierce your own heart." Abraham is called "Father of Many Nations." Jesus's name is translated "Creator Sets Free." The city of Rome is called "the City of Iron."

There's so much more than just the names. In so many places the Native American twist brings a freshness to the text. For example, I love how "sin" is translated as "bad hearts and broken ways." So good.

Here's the FNV translation of the Lord's Prayer:

O Great Spirit, our Father from above,
we honor your name as sacred and holy.

Bring your good road to us,
where the beauty of your ways in the spirit-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 things we need for each day.

Release us from the things we have done wrong,
in the same way we release others for the things done wrong to us.

Guide us away from the things that tempt us to stray from your good road,
and set us free from the evil one and his worthless ways.

Aho! May it be so!
And here are the Beatitudes: 

Creator’s blessing rests on the poor, the ones with broken spirits. The good road from above is theirs to walk.

Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who walk a trail of tears, for he will wipe the tears from their eyes and comfort them.

Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who walk softly and in a humble manner. The earth, land, and sky will welcome them and always be their home.

Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who hunger and thirst for wrongs to be made right again. They will eat and drink until they are full.

Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who are merciful and kind to others. Their kindness will find its way back to them—full circle.

Creator’s blessing rests on the pure of heart. They are the ones who will see the Great Spirit.

Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who make peace. It will be said of them, ‘They are the children of the Great Spirit!’

Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who are hunted down and mistreated for doing what is right, for they are walking the good road from above. Others will lie about you, speak against you, and look down on you with scorn and contempt, all because you walk the road with me. This is a sign that Creator’s blessing is resting on you. So let your hearts be glad and jump for joy, for you will be honored in the spiritworld above. You are like the prophets of old, who were treated in the same way by your ancestors.

Check out the First Nations Version. Highly recommended. 

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