Jamaican “Patois” Version of the Bible – Legitimate?

jamaican patois version of the holy bible

I first discovered that the Christian Bible had been translated into Jamaican Patois at Ant Writes blog.  I don’t remember what I was originally searching for, but was pleasantly surprised when I accidentally found this controversial news.  Imagine, the lilting beauty of the language as expressed in the fiery redemption songs of Reggae music – now being used to describe Jesus Christ’s gift of redemption!

Many Jamaican Christians are talking about how wonderful it is to have the Bible translated into their language of birth.  The people are very excited and feel that the scriptures in patwa (patois) “comes alive” as never before.

“People are diabolically against Bible translation because of what it does for the common people”  at 15:26
John Roomes, CEO, Wycliffe Caribbean

On the other side are those who feel that Jamaican patwa (creole) is too crude and vulgar a language for the Holy Bible to be translated into.  They also feel that patwa is too limited to convey the nuances of the Biblical scripture in the way English does, and that translating the Bible into patwa is a huge backward step for Jamaica.

As a speaker of “ebonics”, I have my opinions about the issue.  In these videos, the people speak on their joy of having the “J.P.” version of the Holy Bible.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Amenta says:

    Literary bias. “On the other side are those who feel that Jamaican patwa (creole) is too crude and vulgar a language for the Holy Bible to be translated into.”

    This is comedy. English is a crude, equivocal languiage. And, surely does a poor job conveying the feeling and intent of the original Asian and East African based languages of the bible.


    1. Anna Renee says:

      All I can do is shake my head like the old people do at the reasoning. There are those who believe that Jesus originally spoke the Word in King James’ English. Umph umph umph.

  2. Lin says:

    Cello, Anna May…

    This could be one of those red button issues that gets folks ALL rile up. Anyway, I’ve sum’m to say. Like tuh hear it? Hereitgo..

    This is just my opinion: Methinks that whatever language something is translated into, it loses something real, vital, exacting from the ORIGINAL text. This is why so many people thru the centuries have totally missed/lost the meaning of, or completely misread/ misinterpreted parts of the Bible, & twisted things to suit their own purposes, devises, or agendas.

    That being said, if one REALIZES that a translation is not MEANT to be taken as word-for-word, verbatim, & literal as the original text of something (not just The Bible) , then it helps to foster some cogent understanding, MAYBE NOT COMPLETE & ABSOLUTE understanding… but at least the gist of what is being presented.

    Smell me?


    1. Anna Renee says:

      Yes Brother Lin, language morphs as its translated.

      The Jamaican Patwa version may take something away, but those who are riled up about it won’t consider that it might possilbly be adding something that more closely resemble the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic that was spoken in the days of Christ on earth.

      We both know its always political when it comes to black language.
      Le Sigh.

  3. sankofa says:

    Just a correction my sister friend. There has been a movement over the past 5 or so years to make Jamaican an official language of the Island, which has gotten lots of traction from the majority in the streets and in “high” places.

    Patois is a French denigration of the colonial subjects attempts to integrate the enslavers means of communication with those of the numerous cross section of languages of the multitude of nations stolen from African and dumped in Jamaica.

    So when anybody denigrate the language of Jamaica or any African based language they show their ignorance and bias towards the language of a people even the Romans thought were beyond help in civilizing.

    When non African come against us, it makes us strong, when knee-grows come against us it frustrate us and weakens us. I believe the bible has been translated into practically every language on the planet, nothing is said about that.

    Anna I think the underline reason is that people still fear/dislike Jamaicans and the spirit of that Island, all the while we continue to influence music, fashion, urban style and yes the insertion of certain phraseology in to gasp! modern language.

    Thanks for this information, I am going to circulate it around to my Christian friends, some who are not even from Jamaica, but are not haters.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Jamaican for Jamaicans. That makes it right. Thanks for the correction my brother.

  4. Hyperlingual says:

    I think this is one of the best stories ever. I cannot wait until Jamaican Patwa becomes the official language of the country, and develops even more of its own identity.
    I’m currently studying Linguistics at college and I honestly get so angry when people discriminate or judge based on different dialects/accents/sociolects. Great to see this huge step towards appreciation of their language.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      I commend you for studying linguistics! But don’t get mad at those who are ignorant, but don’t know it. Usually this ignorance shows itself as arrogance.

  5. This page truly has all the information I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Glad to be of help!

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