The Black Bible Chronicles
In September of 1993, P.K. McCary published the first of a two-volume set entitled Black Bible Chronicles. McCary explained that she wanted to create a version of the Bible that would relate to young people “in the streets”, and insists that there is no meaning lost through the translation. She felt that in order to reach young people of the streets and to get them to learn about God, the Bible has to be translated into a language they could understand–namely, African American English. Her version of the Bible is written with AAE features and vocabulary.
Former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young wrote the introduction to McCary’s chronicles, and had this to say about her version:
“This is in keeping with the very origins of the Bible,” said Young, who is an ordained minister. “The New Testament was originally written in Koine Greek, the street language of the people. Subsequently, Martin Luther and others translated the Bible into the language of the people of their day.”
This article from the National Catholic Reporter further explores her intentions.
What do you think of the Black Bible Chronicles? Do you think it will actually have a positive effect on the lower-class community and among speakers of AAE? Many people are likely to find her work offensive; not only within the religious sphere (for altering the Bible), but also among African Americans themselves, for numerous reasons. One is that the title (Black Bible Chronicles) suggests that all black people need or would benefit from a version of the Bible translated into AAE. We know this is not true, since every African American is not an AAE-speaker. Also, McCary’s version contains controversial and outdated terms and phrases, several of which are more like slang than AAE. Many people may also see her work as comical, and therefore fail to take it seriously. This would defeat the purpose of helping African American English speakers better understand and relate to God and Christianity.
- I am the Almighty, your God, who brought you outta Egypt when things were tough. Don’t put anyone else before Me.
- Don’t make any carved objects or things that look like what is in heaven or below. And don’t bow down to these things like they are anything heavy. Not ever!
- You shouldn’t dis the Almighty’s name, using it in cuss words or rapping with one another. It ain’t cool, and payback’s a monster.
- After you’ve worked six days, give the seventh to the Almighty. (The Almightly made the heavens and earth in six days. He rested on the seventh day and blessed it as right on.)
- You shouldn’t be takin’ nothin’ from your homeboys.
- Give honor to your mom and dad, and you’ll live a long time.
- Don’t waste nobody.
- Don’t mess around with someone else’s ol’ man or ol’ lady.
- Don’t go ’round telling lies on your homebuddies.
- Don’t want what you can’t have or what your homebuddy has. It ain’t cool.