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More churches accepting patois Bible

Tuesday, November 27, 2012    

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DESPITE initial opposition to the translation of the New Testament into patois, more churches are now spreading the gospel using the controversial text.

Reverend Courtney Stewart of the Bible Society of The West Indies told the weekly Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange that acceptance has been slowly building among Jamaican churches for the Jamaican New Testament (translated Di Jameikan Nyuu Testiment).

"It's been an uphill struggle but we are happy that more churches are incorporating it in their worship. Over time, more churches are accepting the notion. We find churches now that one Sunday per month they have readings in Jamaican. Major denominations having assemblies will have readings from the New International version, reading from the King James Version and readings from the Jamaican New Testament and we have no reason to believe that it is not going to continue," Stewart said yesterday.

Sections of the Christian church in Jamaica have been critical of the move to translate the Bible into patois. Some have even gone as far as describing it as almost blasphemous.

But Stewart, general secretary of the Bible Society, argued that getting the word of God across in whatever language is the most important factor.

"We have nothing but the highest regard for the Scripture," he said. "Some people associate the crudeness and vulgarity to which the language can be put but we can do the same thing with English."

The Bible Society of The West Indies has partnered with Wycliffe Caribbean and the Jamaica Language Unit at the University of the West Indies to develop a programme to teach clergymen to read and write Jamaican so as to effectively dispense the scriptures to their flock.

The translation of the Jamaican New Testament involved a team of linguists, translators, editors and speakers who worked around the clock to complete the project, which was translated from the Greek New Testament.

According to Stewart, the Jamaican New Testament is becoming a hit with the younger generation.

"The younger people almost take to it like a duck to water," he said.

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