At a time when few of the nearly seven million English-speaking North American Native people have access to biblical resources, IVP now offers an indigenous translation of the New Testament with the August 31 release of the First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament.
The First Nations Version is also being used as the basis for three short-animated films created by the Jesus Film Project titled Retelling the Good Story. The three films pull from the translation’s version of Matthew 14 that shares the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand and Peter walking on water.
Cindy Bunch, IVP associate publisher and editorial director, said, “We need new voices and new ways of experiencing Scripture now more than ever as we have become entrenched in our own small corners of the world. By embracing what they name as First Nations people’s ‘heart languages,’ the translators of the FNV cause us to pause and hear the Word of God anew.”
The FNV project was first envisioned by pastor and founder of Rain Ministries, Terry M. Wildman of the Ojibwe and Yaqui tribes. The First Nations Version: New Testament is a culmination of a five-year collaboration between Wildman, OneBook.ca, Wycliffe Associates, Native North Americans from over twenty-five different tribes, and a translation council that consisted of twelve Native North American elders, pastors, young adults, and men and women from different tribes and diverse geographic locations.
Wildman is the lead translator and project manager of the First Nations Version, and he currently serves as director of spiritual growth and leadership development with Native InterVarsity. With the final published version now in hand, Wildman said, “My greatest hope comes from First Nations people who have read this translation and have said it opened their eyes to who Creator Sets Free (Jesus) truly is. It has already broken down some of the walls that exist because of the horrific way the gospel was most often forced on our Native peoples. I hope stories like this will multiply now that the FNV is fully released by InterVarsity Press.”
The First Nations Version is a dynamic equivalence translation because it is a thought-for-thought rather than word-for-word translation. The style is one of an oral storyteller where culturally relevant language is used to convey the ideas expressed throughout Scripture to create a deeper connection with the reader. God is experienced as “Creator,” Jesus as “Creator Sets Free,” and Jerusalem as “Village of Peace.”
Further clarifying this point, Al Hsu, senior editor at IVP, said, “For example, the FNV’s rendering of the return of the prodigal son in Luke 15:22 has the father saying, ‘Go! Find my best regalia and put it on him. Give him a headdress of feathers for his head and new moccasins for his feet!’ While regalia, headdress, and moccasins are of course not direct translations of Luke’s Greek words for robe, ring, and sandals, they do nevertheless communicate the great honor given to the younger son upon his return. The FNV stands in the long tradition of faithful dynamic equivalence English translations that make Scripture come alive to contemporary readers.”
Dr. Casey Church, pastor of Good Medicine Way, an indigenous community of believers in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said, “The FNV is written for a particular time, place, and people—the indigenous people of North America. The First Nations Bible is a version for us. With estimates that a mere 5 percent of indigenous people of North America have a relationship with Creator Sets Free (Jesus), it’s time for us to have a Bible translation of our own that speaks to our culture, our values, and our hearts through Creator’s Word.”
For more about the FNV visit FirstNationsVersion.com.