Thursday, December 25, 2014

A First Nations Retelling of the Christmas Story

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One final Christmas Day post!

I had begun writing a longer post about this earlier this month, but apparently lost it before saving it.  Anyway, I wanted to get this online during the Christmas season.  

The Birth of the Chosen One is a forty-four page paraphrase of the story of Jesus' birth taken from Matthew and Luke.  The text is taken from the First Nations Version Project (FNV) by Terry Wildman.  Terry is of Ojibwe (Chippewa) and Yaqui ancestry. He is a recording artist, songwriter, storyteller, speaker and published writer. Terry is also the "Chief" of Rain Ministries, a nonprofit organization based in Arizona. Since the year 2000 as "RainSong" he and his wife Darlene have invested their lives in sharing the message of Jesus with Native Americans. 

The book's child-like illustrations were created by artist Ramone Romero of Cherokee and Aztec ancestry.  To see more examples of his artwork for the FNV, click here.

Terry Wildman writes:

The word “translation” doesn’t really describe this project; it is more of retelling of the Scriptures in the tradition of the storytellers of oral cultures—some might call it a paraphrase. It is similar, in concept, to The Message by Eugene Peterson or The Living Bible by Kenneth N. Taylor. But, it is different in the sense that it attempts to convey the rhythm and feel of an oral storyteller. 

The FNV is not intended to replace standard translations but to present the scriptures with word textures and choices that relate in a general way to Native Americans and other First Nations English speaking people. It is also not intended to be culturally or tribally specific. 

My intent is to retell, in the tradition of the oral cultures, the story of the Bible. In doing so, I draw on the 15 years of experience I share in relationship with many Native Americans, and also from the 30 years of ministry experience which has included in depth bible study and theological reflection.  In the eyes of many this may not qualify me, but I am not looking for the praise of people or their opinions. However, I am open to constructive critique from others. 

This retelling is personal, as it reflects my own experience and perspectives. Stories are traditionally told in ways that are unique to the storyteller and meaningful to the listeners, drawing from history, tradition and experience. A storyteller will insure the essence of the story is preserved without the need to present a strict word for word recital.

You can listen here to a sample from the First Nations Version, taken from a narrated CD recording with Cedar flutes in the background blended with drums, rattles, and a sound-scape of Earth tones.  For more information about the CD, click here.  You can also order a FNV harmony of all four Gospels called When the Great Spirit Walked Among Us.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for letting people know about this project. Nicely done!