by Terry M. Wildman
When the Great Spirit Walked Among Us is a harmony of the four Gospels combined into a single narrative and then retold for Native Americans and all First Nations English speaking peoples. A new translation and paraphrase of the Sacred Writings retold by Terry M. Wildman.
This is the second book of the First Nations Version Project, retelling the story of the Bible for First Nations People.The First Nations Version project seeks to present the Gospels in the oral storytelling tradition of indigenous cultures.
Our journey as the indigenous, from brokenness and heartache to healing and joy, has been long and tedious. We have faced what some thought were insurmountable odds, but here we are in this century gaining momentum in our recovery, redemption, and reconciliation. Along this healing journey, treasures for edification, education, and comfort have come along in the exact moment that we have needed them. Such is my feeling about this book. Creator has come to us at the right time with the words of the Gospels written in a way sensitive to who we are as the indigenous of Turtle Island, and in the story form, we love and enjoy in our culture. Terry Wildman’s gift as a storyteller brings the story of Jesus to life in an authentic way. I am honored to give my full endorsement to When the Great Spirit Walked Among Us.
Odawa/Lakota Elder, and Storyteller · Author of Dancing My Dream
When the Great Spirit Walked Among Us recognizes the way in which Creator is deeply rooted and grounded in our First Nations people. The language is eloquent and Spirit-filled. One has the sense of hearing a sacred storytelling from the breath of Creator that refreshes and renews the minds of Jesus’ followers whether the relationship is newly made or grown sacred over a lifetime. And if one still wonders if there is something more to life, it can be found here, written on the leaves of the Tree of Life.
Yankton Sioux · MFA, Poet, and Creative Writer
When the Great Spirit Walked Among Us is a breathtakingly beautiful recasting of the Gospel story, here presented in the shape of the American-Indian oral storytelling tradition. It is translation at its finest, moving the message accurately across historical and cultural boundaries, from one great oral storytelling tradition to another. Throughout most of history, the written word has been scarce and expensive. Information was passed along as stories, first by prophets and preachers, later from elders and teachers. They shared it around campfires and cookstoves, faithfully passing on that which they had received themselves. That is why it is such a thrill to be able to recommend this new translation, which is a return to the very first way the Gospel was presented. Its cadences and images evoke simpler times, but times no less perilous than now, when Good and Evil still strive for the hearts and souls of men.
Host, Accordance Bible Software’s Lighting the Lamp · Adjunct Faculty, Regent University, School of Divinity
From the beginning, the story of Jesus has been a translated story. Jesus spoke in Aramaic, but Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote their Gospels in Greek. The story of Jesus is intended to be translated to every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. The fact that translation is intended, not just permitted, serves to show how we must resist any cultural domination of the gospel. Terry Wildman has done a masterful job of rendering the Gospels into the storytelling motif characteristic of Native Americans. It should tell us something important when we realize how beautifully the story of Jesus can be adapted to the style and vocabulary of indigenous people. I deeply appreciate Terry Wildman’s retelling of the story of Jesus for First Nations people. I believe the Great Spirit is pleased.
Pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri · Author of Beauty Will Save the World and A Farewell To Mars
Terry Wildman brings his considerable gifts as a storyteller to a masterful retelling of the gospel story that is steeped in the rhythms, forms, and motifs of the indigenous peoples with whom he lives and walks. The First Nations Version makes a simple shift that produces profound effects. The voice that shapes the gospel story for most Americans is the familiar voice of the contemporary church and culture. Hearing the familiar story told with a different voice, an indigenous voice, opens a world of wonderful insights and meanings. This is an elegant retelling of the Gospel story that is sure to engage and excite a broad spectrum of readers.
Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew Ashland Theological Seminary · Author of Joshua in 3D: A Commentary on Biblical Conquest and Manifest Destiny
I’ve often wondered what it might look like if Jesus incarnated within another culture. Jesus, a first-century Jewish teacher in the corner of Rome’s empire, lived, died, and rose as a human being within a specific time and place. What I love about When the Great Spirit Walked Among Us is how it translates this gospel story into a language of another context: First Nations! So get swept away into the story of the Great Spirit as he invites us to the blessing way of the Good Road! Read this beautiful retelling of the Scriptures, which is not only beneficial for First Nations communities, but for all who desire to allow the Great Spirit to transform their imaginations!
Fresno Pacific · Anabaptist Pastor and Author, www.kurtwillems.com
To be an effective bridge builder can be a very difficult task unless one has knowledge and respect for the conditions at both ends of the bridge. Terry sees clearly the distinctions between the cultures of the White man and the Native American, as well as the religious perspectives of both. He is a humble man, an excellent listener, a peacemaker, and has walked on the soils at both ends of the bridge that he is building. Terry has undertaken a special and substantial project to paraphrase, in a harmony of the four Gospels, the life of Jesus, the Waymaker. Terry has taken texts that were written from an ancient Middle Eastern Jewish tribal perspective and articulately transformed them into the common vernacular of the traditional tribal indigenous peoples. He presents Jesus, as the Creator walking in our midst, in a cultural context that is pre-digested and easy to swallow. For some, this translation will help overcome the critical perception of many indigenous peoples that the Bible is the White man’s book. Oh! What would the history of the Americas have been had this bridgebuilding translation accompanied the European explorers five centuries ago?
Founder of Path Clearer Inc. www.PathClearer.com · Author of Hope When Everything Seems Hopeless and Half Truths are Lies
Terry Wildman is a gifted storyteller. His account of the four Gospels of the New Testament is recounted as a story told in the idiom of native American Indians. While not specific to any tribe, the language of Terry’s story is reflective of the way that native peoples think and share about their faith. It is in this way the telling of the Christian faith is both familiar and yet unique to the hearts of the reader. I recommend this book to those intimately acquainted with the Christian message of the Gospels that will bring a fresh innocence to the retelling of Jesus’ story. It is a wonderful resource for families to share together that will stir immediate and deep discussions about what God was doing in Jesus Christ. I wonder what would have happened many years ago if the first European missionaries had shared the Christian message this way with native Indian tribes. Even so today the timeliness of Terry’s work will have a wonderful impact.
Pastor Heartland Church, Fort Wayne Indiana
I just finished reading When the Great Spirit Walked Among us by Terry M. Wildman and plan on reading it again and again… My Brother Terry Wildman has written it from his heart and with such simplicity that anyone can fully understand the story of Creator Sets Free.
All throughout the story, I yellow-highlighted passages/sentences that really stood up and spoke to me personally. It also expanded my own mind to think outside the theological, dogmatic traditions of the organized Churches. I learned to think in terms of another culture that is almost dead. We must resurrect that culture before it is forever lost to the world.
I consider it the best all-around written translation/paraphrase version of the Greatest Story ever told. Its simplicity is phenomenal, beautiful, and very easy to read and understand.
It has been my belief for many years that a version of the Bible like this one should have been written 100 years—even 500 years ago in order to reach the First Nations People of Turtle Island. The problem is that the white Euros who migrated here were too full of greed and hatred, and only thought of themselves (selfishness). The First Nations People would have then listened because it is written in their traditional storytelling format which they could very easily relate to, understand, and heed.
Terry, my Chippewa Brother, keep on writing as the Great Spirit leads you to write. This version is badly needed to help save other First Nations People from experiencing a bad end, and to guide them to a “life of beauty and harmony that never fades away.”
I am proud to recommend this book to you because of its content, and because Jesus did NOT command us to change anyone’s culture; only to present them with His Good News and let the Holy Spirit do His work of guiding them Home to Him. We were never told anywhere in the Bible to dominate another culture with our own culture or opinions; only His Word, and His Word alone, with His Love and Peace!”
Thank you very much for listening to my recommendations.
BA degree from Olivet Nazarene University