Thu | Sep 28, 2023

Old Testament Books in Patois to be launched this year

Published:Monday | February 6, 2023 | 12:12 AM

A number of churches across different denominations in the Corporate Area currently conduct Sunday services in patois through songs, sermons and readings from the Jamaican patois translation of the New Testament. These include Methodist churches, the Covenant Bible Chapel, St Andrew Parish Church and Webster Memorial United Church.

“The Word of God in the mother tongue is a liberating catalyst for both mental and spiritual emancipation. That is exactly what God’s Word in the various creole languages is for our Caribbean peoples,” said Bishop Lloyd Millen of the Covenant Bible Chapel.

According to Rev. Father Bertram Gayle, priest of the St. Andrew Parish Church, “The translation of the Bible into Jamaican Creole is a vital tool for religious education, cultural preservation and personal growth. It represents a step forward in making the teachings of the Bible accessible to all, regardless of language or cultural background and is a powerful tool for fostering pride and a better appreciation of our language and heritage. I am honoured to have played a role in bringing this to fruition and highly endorse the translations, while encouraging its widespread use and adoption.” Rev. Father Gayle was the first priest at St. Andrew Parish Church to conduct a full service in patois.

In addition to the full New Testament already translated, Wycliffe Bible Translators Caribbean (WBTC) will be launching the first of the Old Testament Books to be published on Tuesday, February 21. The three Old Testament books are Jonah, Esther and Ruth, which have been translated into Belize Kriol, Jamaican Creole and Islander Creole for San Andrés. The launch event is set to take place at the Hope Fellowship Church, 23 Molynes Road, on International Mother Language Day, which is dedicated each year to promoting linguistic, cultural diversity and multi-lingualism around the world.

The first print of the recent translations will be distributed to churches and schools in Belize, Jamaica and San Andrés.

Guest speaker at the launch will be Rev. Dr Marlon Winedt, global translation advisor to the United Bible Societies. Born in Curaçao, he returned home after doing a master’s degree at the University of Tilburg, Netherlands and got involved with the “Kas di Beibel” project, where he translated the first drafts of the New Testament and helped to revise parts of the Old Testament.

In celebration of the latest books to be translated, Bishop Christine Gooden Benguche, Bishop of the Jamaica Methodist District said, “The journey has been long, but God has delivered through his servants. Thank you Wycliffe Caribbean for the work that you continue to do and your dedication to ensuring that scriptures are produced in the native languages of the peoples. The Methodist Church has embraced the use of the Jamiekan Nyuu Testiment in our worship services. We commend its use to others as we look forward to purchasing and utilising the latest publications,” she said.

Oral McCook, chairman of Wycliffe Bible Translators Caribbean said, “We envision that with more translations available, more local churches will be encouraged to use the books of the Bible available in patois in their various services going forward.”

He also noted that 12 Caribbean nations were invited to participate in a Caribbean Translation conference in 2019 in Kingston to discuss the translation needs of the Bible. “From that conference we confirmed that there were four nations in the region that already had the New Testament translated in their creoles and wanted the Old Testament to be done likewise. Following further discussions, it was agreed that we would proceed with three nations: Belize, Jamaica and San Andres,” he said.

In October 2021, the Seed Company agreed to be the major financial partner to retain the services of full time translators in the three countries. In addition to completing the translations of Jonah, Esther and Ruth, the translators have also done the first draft of the book of Genesis.

The partners in the Bible translation project are, Wycliffe Bible Translators Caribbean, managing partner; The Seed Company, financial partner, as well as the Jamaica Language Unit at UWI, Mona Campus, SIL, United Bible Societies as technical partners, and the Bible Society of the West Indies and the local churches in the three nations, as resource partners.