The Jamaican Patois translation of the New Testament of the Holy Bible had its official launch in London recently at the Jamaican High Commission. In this post, I want to make a rare injunction into the debate, by making the case for the need for this Bible translation. This is in part motivated from an online discussion or debate on the subject that I had with my Facebook friends.
My point is basically that the God of the Bible wants his message to be given in every tongue, tribe and nation, and as such, Jamaican English or Patois (Patwah) is one such tongue that I do not think he would want to ignore. This is quite evident in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, that on the day of Pentecost, every member of the Jewish diaspora visiting Jerusalem could hear their dialect being spoken by the Jewish Galileans. God gave sound to every dialect that day, and the same God of yesterday would want to give his message in the Jamaican dialect today. In fact Apostle Paul states: "There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance" ( 1 Cor. 14:10).
For those Jamaicans who can read the Jamaican Patois Bible, I believe it can have a more local and personal impact than the King James English. Already, I know that Jamaican pastors and Evangelists preach in Jamaican patois. So why not also read the word in patois as well as preach in patois? Especially if pastors and evangelists during their sermons need to preach the word so that the common and poor man can understand. As the Bible says, Jesus came to preach to the poor, not the well educated and rich (Luke 4:18). So having a bilingual sermon that both preaches and reads the word in the language that the common man can understand, enables them to receive the message. It seems hypocritical that we can have the pastor preach bilingually in patois and English, yet have the Bible verse read only in English. Why not do both conducting the service fully bilingually?
Next up, we need to do the hymns. As the apostle says, sing but sing with understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15). In addition, he said that he would rather preach a short sermon that everyone can understand, than speak in different languages/tongues (1 Corinthians 14:19). Hopefully, even more Jamaicans will be interested in reading the Bible in their own language. And hopefully, they study both English versions and Jamaican English versions.