A New Testament in English by Native North Americans for Native North Americans and all English speaking people.
The First Nations Version New Testament is authored by Terry M. Wildman with input from the First Nations Version Translation Council and with input from Native reviewers. The First Nations Version was first envisioned by Terry M. Wildman and with the help of OneBook.ca and Wycliffe Associates has expanded into a collaborative effort that includes First Nations/Native Americans from over 25 tribes.
This project was birthed out of a desire to provide an English Bible that connects, in a culturally sensitive way, the traditional heart languages of the over six million English-speaking First Nations people of North America. The First Nations Version Translation Council has been selected from a cross-section of Native North American-elders, pastors, young adults, and men and women from differing tribes and diverse geographic locations. This council also represents a diversity of church and denominational traditions to minimize bias.
OneBook Partnered with Rain Ministries to develop the First Nations Version (FNV) of the New Testament. This is the first time OneBook supported the development of a Bible translation project in North America.
By tradition, First Nations people are oral storytellers. The FNV is a retelling of the Creator’s Story—the Scriptures—following the tradition of the storytellers of these oral cultures. Many of the First Nations tribes still resonate with the cultural and linguistic thought patterns found in their original tongues. This way of speaking with it’s simple yet profound beauty and rich cultural idioms, still resonate in the hearts of First Nations people.
The FNV takes into consideration contextual word choices, idiomatic expressions, and modifications in paragraph and sentence structure that clarity and facilitate understanding of the Scriptures. Our translation council is concerned with maintaining the accuracy of the translation and its faithfulness to the intended meaning of the Biblical writers within a First Nations context. The FNV is not a word-for-word translation, rather it is a thought-for-thought translation, often referred to as ‘dynamic equivalent.’
Why English? It is conservatively estimated that over 90 percent of First Nations people do not speak their tribal language, and even fewer can read it. This is the result of several generations of governmental assimilation policies that attempted to eradicate over 250 languages spoken in North America.
This translation is not intended to be tribally specific but to present the Scriptures in a general way, attempting to represent some of the simple yet profoundly beautiful ways our languages can be expressed in English.
We aimed for a style that is easy to read, with an attempt to present, in writing, the cadence and feel of an oral storyteller. A contextual approach was adhered to, using English word choices and idiomatic phrases that are culturally relevant, with an effort to refrain from a stereotypical or culturally degrading simplicity.
I just wanted to express my gratitude to the First Nations Version Project and the wonderful work they have done. I used the words of this version to share the gospel with native students at Fort Lewis College and it’s as if people are hearing these words for the first time. The word of the Lord appears to them as fire dancing in their hearts.
Thank you and Doksa,
Courtland Hopkins, Lakota/Diné, Fort Lewis College, Native InterVarsity USA Staff
I am a college campus chaplain with InterVarsity in San Francisco, and I have found the FNV to be extremely helpful in our ministry with college students of various ethnicities. The FNV is one of the Scripture versions we use in our inductive Bible studies and evangelistic Bible discussions on campus. I have found that Christian students from Catholic and various Protestant backgrounds benefit significantly from the FNV.
At a student leadership conference for Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Middle Eastern college students, we used the FNV in a discussion about the feeding of the 5000 in John 6:1~15. The 150 students & staff resonated powerfully with the FNV’s rendering of the story. One Chinese-American student at UC Berkeley said, “I really liked looking at the passage in John via the First Nations Version. It gave a unique and different perspective of the Bible, especially the ‘hopes and dreams’ of generations.” A Japanese-Chinese student at the University of Nevada said, “My bond with Creator Sets Free (Jesus), and the Lord, the Great Spirit, was strengthened and I feel that I’ve been called to help spread the word about His good deeds and how he is willing to help guide us all.”
The FNV is my favorite version of Scripture to use for engaging non-Christian college students. The way that the FNV describes spiritual terms and concepts is often more intuitive and easily understandable for non-Christian college students. For example, the “Son of Man” is expressed as the “True Human Being,” and the “Kingdom of God” is expressed as “Creator’s Good Road.” Sometimes non-Christian college students have negative associations with the word “God,” and in those situations, the more neutral word “Creator” is a name for God that students respond more positively to.
Eliana Land, InterVarsity San Francisco, Campus Chaplain
The First Nations Version is a beautiful gift from First Nations followers of Christ – not just to First Nations People, but to the entire Church in North America. It enables us to read the Bible afresh by using names that capture meaning, like Creator Sets Free (Jesus) and the Separated Ones (Pharisees). It reminds us of the spiritual realities assumed by biblical authors but forgotten by most Westerners. Depth and texture is breathed into words like “sin” and “Church” by the translators’ astute choice of “bad hearts and broken ways” and “Sacred Family”. I can’t wait for the rest of the New Testament! I love the First Nations Version of Luke and Ephesians! I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fresh read of Scripture.”
Lindsay Olesberg, National Director of Scripture Engagement, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA
“The never ending call to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” is a challenging call. With the diversity of nations comes the challenge of relating to the ethnos, or the multitudes of tribes encountered. When the first Christians touched the shores of the North American continent in 1607 they were not equipped to bring the Gospel in the context of the North American ethnos, therefore, even today it can be said that less than 10% of Native Americans are Christian. The publication of Walking the Good Road: The Gospels and Acts with Ephesians in this new and exciting First Nations Version is the first fruits of the work of Rev. Terry Wildman and the First Nations Version Translation Council. This work is designed to bring a native understanding of the Good News of Jesus Christ. With the technical assistance from OneBook of Canada and the world renowned Wycliffe Associates this project has kept the integrity of the original writings of the Gospels and the letters. I wholeheartedly support this exciting project and know you will too.”
Rev. Alvin Deer, Kiowa/Creek, retired Chaplain, Okla. City Muscogee Creek Community and Former Executive Director of the Native American International Caucus of the United Methodist Church
“The First Nations Version of the New Testament is one of the more important developments in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Indigenous peoples to come along in a very long time. To have a version of the Bible that speaks to the inner Native voice is something that will resonate as we share the Good News with our Native brothers and sisters. Lutheran Indian Ministries is proud to attach its name in support of this great work and we are excited to be a part of the team in helping it to get into the hands of Native peoples everywhere.”
Tim Young Eagle, Executive Director, Lutheran Indian Ministries
“The FNV has quickly become a go to resource for Native InterVarsity across the nation. We are using it in our small group Bible studies and it is influencing the words we choose when we invite students to the full life that Creator Sets Free offers. The word choices of the FNV not only resonate with Native students, but they are offering a fresh hearing of Scripture for non-Natives. For example when we talk about ‘bad hearts’ and ‘broken ways’ people can see that in themselves and others. But when we talk about ‘sin,’ defenses and blinders go up immediately. I would recommend FNV to any Native person who wants to learn more about Jesus and any non-Native person who longs to be able to read scripture with new eyes.”
Megan Murdock Krischke, Wyandotte\Cherokee, Native InterVarsity Coordinator, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, USA.
“Reading the First Nations Version: New Testament is like listening to a wise elder pass down ancient teachings. Its oral cadences give the Scriptures new room to breathe. While contemporary translations focus on updating language in a modern mode, the FNV recaptures the sense of tradition that binds faithful readers to our past and to the story that tells us who we are. It is a good gift to everyone who walks the Jesus Way.”
L. Daniel Hawk, Ph.D. , Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Ashland Theological Seminary
“The First Nations Version is awesome! I like using Luke and Ephesians FNV for Bible study at San Juan College. It brings more discussion as well as answering questions on certain phrases about what Jesus says in the gospels. I recommend this book to use from a First Nation perspective. Thank you First Nations Version Project for the work you’re doing for First Nations people.”