InterVarsity Press is pleased to announce that they will be partnering with Rain Ministries to serve as the official publisher of First Nations Version of the full New Testament, which is scheduled to release in 2021. The First Nations Version of the New Testament is a new translation, attempting to capture the simplicity, clarity, and beauty of our Native storytellers in English, while remaining faithful to the original language of the New Testament.
“The First Nations Version is a groundbreaking, fresh translation of the New Testament filled with vivid, evocative language and imagery,” said Al Hsu, senior editor for IVP. “It helps modern readers discover the power of Scripture by conveying the biblical story through the sensibilities and cadences of Native oral storytelling tradition. We experience the kingdom of God as walking Creator’s Good Road, and we encounter Jesus as Creator Sets Free, the Chosen One. It is an honor to partner with Terry Wildman and the FNV team in heralding the great story to new peoples.”
The First Nations Version: New Testament is authored by Terry M. Wildman with input from the First Nations Version Translation Council and Native reviewers. The First Nations Version was first envisioned by Wildman and with the help of OneBook.ca and Wycliffe Associates has expanded into a collaborative effort that includes First Nations/Native Americans from over twenty-five tribes.
Wildman said, “You might call this a contextual translation in English, in the tradition of the storytellers of oral culture. While it is not tribally specific, it is intended to relate in a general way to all our First Nations people. The FNV is not only a gift to our First Nations people but we also consider it an offering from First Nations people to the world. It is similar in concept to The Message by Eugene Peterson or The Living Bible by Kenneth N. Taylor. But it is different in the sense that it attempts to convey the rhythm and feel of an oral storyteller from our Turtle Island (North American) cultures.”
This project was birthed out of a desire to provide an English Bible that connects, in a culturally sensitive way, the traditional heart languages of the over six million English-speaking First Nations people of North America. The First Nations Version Translation Council has been selected from a cross section of Native North Americans—elders, pastors, young adults, and men and women from differing tribes and diverse geographic locations. This council also represents a diversity of church and denominational traditions to minimize bias.
Megan Murdock Krischke serves as the director for Native InterVarsity, a ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She said, “The FNV has quickly become a go-to resource for Native InterVarsity across the nation. We are using it in our small group Bible studies, and it is influencing the words we choose when we invite students to the full life that Creator Sets Free (Jesus) offers. The word choices of the FNV not only resonate with Native students but they are offering a fresh hearing of Scripture for non-Natives. For example, when we talk about bad hearts and broken ways people can see that in themselves and others. But when we talk about sin, defenses and blinders go up immediately. I would recommend the FNV to any Native person who wants to learn more about Jesus and any non-Native person who longs to be able to read Scripture with new eyes.”
The FNV is a retelling of the Creator’s Story—the Scriptures—following the tradition of the storytellers of these oral cultures. Many of the First Nations tribes still resonate with the cultural and linguistic thought patterns found in their original tongues. This way of speaking, with its simple yet profound beauty and rich cultural idioms, still resonates in the hearts of First Nations people.
L. Daniel Hawk, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Ashland Theological Seminary, said, “Reading the First Nations Version: New Testament is like listening to a wise elder pass down ancient teachings. Its oral cadences give the Scriptures new room to breathe. While contemporary translations focus on updating language in a modern mode, the FNV recaptures the sense of tradition that binds faithful readers to our past and to the story that tells us who we are. It is a good gift to everyone who walks the Jesus Way.”