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Jamaican Bible ready for launch

Linguist and Di Jameikan Nyuu Testiment project member Bertram Gayle.

KINGSTON — The Jamaican New Testament, the patois translation of the second half of the Christian Bible, was produced at a cost of US$350,000 – $32 million at the current exchange rate – the Bible Society of The West Indies revealed yesterday.

Translated Di Jameikan Nyuu Testiment, the work is the product of four years of research and testing. It is scheduled to be launched at Bethel Baptist Church in Half-Way-Tree, St. Andrew on December 9.

Ever since it started, the project has attracted criticism, with some detractors saying the monies could be put to better use. But reacting to those critics, general secretary of the local society Rev. Courtney Stewart hit back yesterday by saying all the funds were raised overseas with the express intention of translating the text.

“All the funding came from abroad; we didn’t raise any money here in Jamaica,” Stewart told the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.

“Some persons have said that this is money we really are wasting and we could have used it to fix roads and for the school-feeding programme, and for hospitals and that kind of thing. The truth of the matter is that none of that money that we were able to pull could have been used to fix roads, fix hospitals, provide drugs and feed kids. That was money that was provided exclusively for translation,” he stressed.

Among the donors he listed were the American Bible Society, Wycliffe Group of Companies, British and Foreign Bible Society, and Spring Harvest.

Explaining the rationale for a Jamaican translation of the New Testament, Stewart questioned whether people were really understanding the traditional text and whether churches could make a greater impact if the text was in their mother tongue.

“The main motivating factor behind that is that a major mission of the Bible Society is to make the Scriptures available to people at affordable prices and in their mother tongue, even though they may already be available in the official language,” he said.

The Nyuu Testiment was the production of linguists from the University of the West Indies’ Jamaica Language Unit (JLU) and exegetists from Northern Caribbean University, United Theological College of the West Indies and Jamaica Theological Seminary. It was also the subject of multiple islandwide focus groups. (Observer)

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