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Wednesday, 12 July 2017 21:13

Joy as Arrernte language Bible launches

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naidoc wk languages poster 150The people of Central Australia [recently celebrated] NAIDOC week with the launch of the Bible translated into the local Arrernte language – a project which has taken more than 30 years to come to fruition.

The ‘Angkentye Mwerre’ Eastern and Central Arrernte Shorter Bible [was launched] by the local Aboriginal people of Santa Teresa and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish, Alice Springs, in a special Mass on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday in NAIDOC Week.

Parish Priest of OLSH Parish, Fr Asaeli Raass SVD, says the translation has been a long-term project.

“It started about 25 to 30 years ago and is a project of the Catholic people of Santa Teresa and OLSH Parish,” Fr Raass says.

“Neil Broad, who was the Director of AUSIL, Australian Indigenous Languages, and is an expert in translation has brought it to this point, where, with the help of the Bible Society who have published it, we can launch it.”

Fr Raass says the translation is not complete, thus the title ‘Shorter Bible’.

“It has all 27 books of the New Testament as well as three books from the Old Testament, namely Genesis, parts of Exodus and Ruth. There’s still a lot of work to be done to fill in the missing chapters.”

While the project started decades ago, it is also a fitting response to St John Paul II’s call to indigenous people when he came to Alice Springs in 1986.

“He really encouraged all Aboriginal people in Australia to read and hear the Word of God in their own language,” says Fr Raass.

“It’s really about being able to access the Bible in your heart language, in the language that you think and speak in.”

The fact that many indigenous people in Central Australia cannot read in any language has led the developers to also produce an audio recording of the Bible being read in Arrernte.

“The people have been wanting this for a long time and it’s had the support of both Bishop Ted Collins and Bishop Eugene Hurley, bishops of Darwin.”

This story was edited to reflect the present date and was first published in 28 June 2017 announcing the launch of the Arrernte Bible. Read the full story at the website of the Society of the Divine Word Australian Province.