The First Nations Version of the Gospel of Luke and Ephesians review.
Luke 3 Introduction
“Eighteen long winters had now come and gone. The People of Iron had many new rulers and governors, and the tribes of Wrestles With Creator (Israel) had a new high holy man for the Sacred Lodge.”
A few years ago I came across the First Nations Version of the Christmas story and for the first time in years, heard the Gospel in a new light. As a student of Biblical Studies and a working minister, the Gospel can often be analysed on many different levels. In this case, reading this version broke past my academic, intellectual and professional perspectives and went straight to my heart, renewing my faith and developing an even more intimate relationship with the Gospel.
Now, the Gospel of Luke and Ephesians First Nations Version has become available. The team that have translated and composed this version should be commended for their careful consideration and collaboration. This version is truly a wonderful presentation of one part of the Christian Testament and again, is rich in imagery with exceptional language use that respects and honours the indigenous peoples of North America that is not “tribally specific” and does not dilute the Good News of Creator Sets Free (Jesus Christ). The language used gives further explanation of the context of ancient Judea and Israel, allowing a reader who has never seen these places to build an inner image of the geography. The names used reveal a great deal about the characters that one may not have without reading this version. For instance, Luke 3, Iturea is named Guarded Mountains, Philip, brother of Looks Brave (Herod), is named Friend of Horses. Without these names the reader would lose the richness of the context and the heart of characters and places. The festivals and time are equally well represented in conceptual language: Sabbath becomes “Day of Resting”, the Passover Sabbath becomes “the day of Bread without Yeast” and the cup of blessed wine in Creator Sets Free (Jesus) Last Supper becomes the “cup of the New Peace Treaty”.
It is difficult to stop reading this Gospel as the reader travels on wanting to know what will be revealed next in such an intimate way. For a reader who is aware of the recent history of North America’s indigenous people and the experience of prejudice and persecution from individuals and governments it would be very difficult to not realise the parallels between Jesus own context and the context that many First Nations and Peoples have faced and continue to face today. This version makes the Gospel even more relevant, especially for North America.
I have used this version many times in various contexts. As I am now based in the UK, when I use this version, it is not only to share the story of Jesus Christ in a refreshing and respectful way, it is also to bring awareness of the indigenous people of the world, to stand in solidarity and to honour the people who were colonised, often by force or self imposed conformity for self preservation, by the former and current empires of the world. There are many countries whose indigenous peoples have been forgotten, or worse, exterminated or extinct and this Gospel version can help elevate sensitivities towards the richness the world’s indigenous people offer and the challenges that are ever present.
I also respect and admire the “freedoms” that come with this version: sharing and adapting with credit to the authors in non commercial contexts. This is a great responsibility to be given and a trust that is to be treasured. Simply put, this version is a must have for personal or community use.
Special gratitude for Terry and Darlene Wildman.
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