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Monday, March 07, 2011

Gullah Bible at Your Fingertips

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I’m so excited I’m about to jump up and down! I just discovered today that my precious Gullah New Testament Bible, De Nyew Testament, is ONLINE.

Oh hallelujah and praise God, now the translations of the New Testament passages, in the beautiful and musical Gullah language, are at my fingertips. Oh – what joy!

Today I started here:

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (Gullah New Testament)
Stillyet, eben dough God da gii we dis tredja dey eenside we, we stan jes like ole clay jug. We weak an plain. Dat show dat de powa dey een God han. Fa true, we ain got dat powa. Plenty time we got trouble ebryweh, bot dat ain mek we gii op. Plenty time we ain know wa fa tink, bot we ain loss we courage. People mek we suffa, bot all de time God dey wid we. Dey kin knock we down, bot dey ain able fa stroy we.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (King James Version)
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
Go here to access The Gullah Bible Online.

16 comments:

Sistergirl said...

I really want to know why there is a need for bibles in various dialects? I am trying to understand didn't the people long ago read from and was able to comprehend the King James Version? I have been trying to figure out if the publishers just want to make money, think we are just illiterate or using these things to make fun of our people?

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Sistergirl,
Thank you for commenting. Your questions are very good ones. I probably don't have quite enough knowledge about the Gullah language to do this answer justice but here goes:

Some scholars believe that the Gullah language came from a pidgin English language PLUS the language spoken by West Africans who were enslaved in South Carolina and Georgia (some also say parts of Florida). So they COMBINED the languages to form their own. Gullah is recognized as a distinct language by linguists. So, no it's not a joke at all, but part of our history. I happen to think the language is beautiful and musical. I think the reason you and others who may think people are making fun of our people is because this Western culture has denigrated much of what our people have created -- the way we talk, how we act, our musicality, poetry, beauty, wit, etc.
In closing, let me say that I posted this and other info. about the Gullah language and the Gullah Bible with love and respect.
Peace to you sister.
Alicia

Anonymous said...

That was Beautifully put.
All versions of the Bible talk about 'In all ur understanding, get a good
understanding'. Thank you.

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Amen sister! I knew you'd understand.

Anonymous said...

Additionally, the purpose of the King James Version was to give the people of that time and place, access to God’s written word in the way of speaking that they could understand and relate to, rather than having to read the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Aramaic of the original texts (or German, the first modern language the Bible was translated into). The King James Version went out into all of the places that the British Empire colonized, even as most of the people were illiterate and had Scripture read to them. One of the great gifts of Christianity is that there is supposed to be no such thing as a holy language or as a preferred people. Even the Catholic Church gave up Latin as the language of the church. Jews must read Scripture in Hebrew and the Koran is only supposed to read in Arabic.

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Amen sister. This is a thorough explanation that will educate a lot of people, I'm sure. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Lisa!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Auntie!

Anonymous said...

The Bible is the only book that has been on the best sellers list for over 2,000 years. It was the only book that our ancestors could sneak to learn to read from. No doubt when they quoted from it they spoke Gullah so why not have a Bible in that tongue. There are Americans that still speak fluent Cajun, I don't believe that too many people make fun of them but I might just be wrong. There are a lot of small minded people in this world.

Thank you
Cynthia Glass Jobe

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

MaDear,
Spoken like a true historian! You're right -- I'm sure the Gullah folks recited passages from the Bibile in their own language, even when they were reading the KJV or hearing other people speak it in English, and I know it must have sounded beautiful. Thanks for your wisdom.
:-)
Alicia

Anonymous said...

And concerning Cajun; there have been potato chip commercials done in the Cajun accent. Gaw-ron-tee! (Guaranteed!, remember?) Even the mosquito in the “Princess and the Frog” had a Cajun accent. Why are we so ashamed of anything that speaks to our authenticity a Black, African-derived people in our historical American experience?
Marilyn

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Yes Marilyn,
They belittle our culture and creations, yet they steal from us too. "They've taken our blues and gone."

Anonymous said...

The language of the Bible doesn't really matter as much as it is NOT the letter of the Bible that gives understanding, but the SPIRIT. the SPIRIT pervades all languages and even has His own language. Language doesn't bring understanding although it brings the word and the message and lends clarity, but the Spirit brings understanding.

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Well said! Someone else mentioned the importance of the spirit when reading the Bible a few days ago. It's an important point.
Thank you!

Ron Lusk said...

At the time that the Gullah translation of the New Testament was started, there were 250,000 Gullah speakers in the US, and 50,000 spoke only Gullah. They had no access to the Bible in the language that was closest to their hearts, that they may have grown up with.

Gullah is therefore not a joke, but a "Creole" language, one that arose out of cultures where parents might not speak each other's languages, and also not the dominant culture's language (English, in this case). Children then develop a language over succeeding generations that borrows heavily from the dominant language, but also reflects the languages of the parents, usually with distinctive grammar/syntax.
My West African friends have noticed similarities between Gullah and their languages, and others have told me it sounds like the language their grandmother used to use.
I am grateful it has been preserved through the years, and that someone cared enough to make the Word available to those who needed it.
One elderly woman had not spoken for years. When she heard a portion of the Gullah Bible read, and she cried out, "Thank you, Jesus! That's the word of God I love!"

As for me, I find a power and freshness in it that helps me appreciate the Good News better: "All wa de angel done tell um, e stan jes like e say."

(Data and anecdote from Wycliffe Bible Translators, 1996 or so.)

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Ron,
It's obvious that you have a great deal of knowledge about the Gullah language. I'm so sure that West Africans noticed similarities between Gullah and their language -- isn't that where it originated from? It's truly a blessing that the language continues on with those who received it from their ancestors.
I am soooo very grateful for the Gullah Bible. When I heard the language, I immediately felt that somewhere in my psyche I know this tongue. Also, I have relatives from South Carolina who have the accent -- the lineage is obvious.
Thank you so much for your comments. I truly appreciate them and I'm sure other readers will as well.
- Alicia