Becoming a True Human Being: First Nations Version

In How to Read the Bible and Love It, I share ten ways of staying engaged with Scripture. Today I’m taking my own advice with variation #1 – try a different translation.

Ever since its publication last year, I’ve been wanting to read the First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament by Terry M. Wildman, First Nations Version Translation Council  (IVP Books, 2021). Below you’ll see why I’m so intrigued—with the First Nations Version of Romans 12:1-2 compared with some of my other favourite Bible translations. You can also download a sample from the IVP website.

First Nations Version
My current Bible reading.


So then, my sacred family members, because Creator has shown us such mercy and kindness, I now call on you to offer your whole beings, heart, mind, and strength, to the Great Spirit as a living sacrifice. Do this in a sacred and spiritual manner that will make his heart glad.

Do not permit the ways of this world to mold and shape you. Instead, let Creator change you from the inside out, in the way a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. He will do this by giving you a new way of thinking, seeing, and walking. Then you will know for sure what the Great Spirit wants for you, things that are good, that make the heart glad, and that help you to walk the path of becoming a mature and true human being. – Romans 12:1-2


The Message
The Bible in conversational English, written by Eugene Peterson.


So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. – Romans 12:1


New Living Translation
The Bible in clear, contemporary English.


And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. – Romans 12:1


New International Version
The translation used most often in the liturgy of my congregation.


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. – Romans 12:1


New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition
The New Revised Standard Version published in 1989 has been my basic go-to Bible for personal reading, study, and writing. This updated version was published in 2021.


I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, on the basis of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship. – Romans 12:1


Writing/Reflection Prompt: What is your go-to Bible translation, and why?


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7 thoughts on “Becoming a True Human Being: First Nations Version

  1. That First Nations version intrigues me. I had not heard of it. It sounds fresh and relevant. I like the name “Creator” for God. It does away with the “He”, “She” dilemma! My husband is a Bible translator (now retired) and his favourite version is Eugene Peterson’s, The Message.

    1. Yes, like The Message, the language in the First Nations Version communicates in a fresh way. On gender, the introduction says “We are of the understanding that the Great Spirit is nether male nor female….However, it is clear in the Scriptures that Creator Sets Free (Jesus) was literally born into this world as a male human. In this translation we follow in the footsteps of the writers of the New Testament and use male prounouns for the Great Spirit. This was also the practice of many of our Native peoples as they spoke of the Supreme Being.”

  2. I had not heard of that First Nations version yet. It sounds fresh and relevant! I love the term “Creator” for God as it does away with the gender issue. My husband is a Bible translator (now retired). His favorite version is Eugene Peterson’s “The Message.”

    1. I can imagine that as a Bible translator, your husband would have an even greater appreciation for some of the challenges and choices that faced the translation council for the First Nations Version. I’m looking forward to continuing my reading.

  3. I hadn’t heard of this translation. It will be interesting to use as an alternative to my current version, TNIV. I wlll read it to see how it may be more useful with my ‘street friends’ who are turned off by the churchy language of current christians. So it may become part of the other alternatives I use such as the CJB, OJB, TLV, ESV, etc. But my favorite since I was 12 years old– the JB Phillips NT — I loved it immediately because he translated Acts 8:18-21 as it really meant. Here was a translation I could trust. Right on, JB!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Phil I haven’t read the JB Phillips translation for a while, and your comment sent me to check out Acts 8:18-21. It shows the value of different translations bringing out the different nuances of a text. That’s a great gift. I hope you’ll also be enriched by the First Nations Version.

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