This Thanksgiving, Read the New Testament With First Nations Eyes

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There are more than six million English-speaking First Nations people in North America. The gift of First Nations people to North America is vast, from those who show how to care for the creation to a different way of seeing what makes for joy in life. The First Nations Version of the New Testament is another gift.

The introduction to the First Nation’s Version describes the work,

The First Nations Version Translation Council humbly submits this new translation of the Sacred Scriptures as our gift to all English-speaking First Nations people and to the entire sacred family, which is the body of the Chosen One. The First Nations Version New Testament was birthed out of a desire to provide an English Bible that connects, in a culturally relevant way, to the traditional heart languages of the over six million English-speaking First Nations people of North America. The FNV is a retelling of Creator’s Story from the Scriptures, attempting to follow the tradition of the storytellers of our oral cultures.

While the FNV was undertaken to speak the heart language of First Nations People, it powerfully brings to life the scriptures for all. One way it does this is through translation choices. The church becomes “the sacred family.” The kingdom is “the good road.” Names are translated to reflect their meaning: Jesus is creator set free; Paul is little man, and so on. 

Here is a taste of the FNV. The words of the Beatitudes:  

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

4 “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. 

5 “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. 

6 “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. 

7 “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. 

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

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

10 “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.

You can learn more about the FNV translation during this In All Things podcast conversation with Terry Wildman, who is head of the translation team. 

Be sure to also check out the First Nations Version website

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I bought this the day it became available. It's a very insightful, fresh translation that helps me appreciate the culture of the New Testament through the lens of the culture of First Nations peoples instead of my own. It's a gift to be treasured from our indigenous brothers and sisters.

We also purchased it and have used it for devotions at home and in public settings. We find the language very refreshing, and it deepens our reverence for biblical teachings and narratives. I hope the FNV will continue to translate more sections of the Scriptures.