Foreword Reviews

First Nations Version

An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament

Terry M. Wildman and the First Nations Version Translation Council deliver a fresh translation of the Bible with First Nations Version, which adds the wisdom of America’s first people to the text of the New Testament.

The text’s brief prologue fashions a new account of the events of the Hebrew Bible, and frames the New Testament as part of the same narrative. It then presents its new translation of the Bible, beginning with the gospel of Matthew and ending with Revelation. It hews close to contemporary translations like the New Revised Standard Version in doing so, and is crafted in traditional chapter and verse form.

Throughout, the book’s insightful commentaries highlight relevant cultural material, explaining, for example, how Matthew 19’s “Separated Ones”—the Pharisees—knew there was much disagreement among religious leaders about marriage and divorce. Its interpretations trend progressive—for example, it opts to translate terms like “no man” into more inclusive ones, like “no human being.”

In a brilliant turn, the book renames characters in the biblical account in the fashion of the Native American people. Jesus, who biblical prophecy says “will be called a seed planter” and Nazarene, is here named “Wisdomkeeper;” Mary, in Luke, becomes “Bitter Tears,” capturing the sorrow she will come to know. In this way, the best of the translation’s changes provoke theological insights, as when Jesus talks not about the Kingdom of God, but about the “blessings of the good road.” And here, the kingdom transforms from a place into a way of getting somewhere, which is a powerful and intriguing difference.

First Nations Version is an exciting translation of the New Testament that reimagines the biblical world through Native American eyes.

Reviewed by Jeremiah Rood

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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