Scripture Translation

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The Gullah Translation

The Gullah New Testament translation project was begun by Pat and Claude Sharpe in 1979 under the sponsorship of Wycliffe Bible Translators, and for most of the time they worked on the translation they were living in the Gullah community, first on Daufuskie Island and later on St. Helena Island. They were helped in the project by Ruth and Elmer Ash, joining the team in 1991. For health reasons the Sharpes moved to Florida in the late 1990s and tried to finish the translation from there. When Pat Sharpe passed away in the fall of 2002, David and Lynn Frank were asked to coordinate the translation project and bring it to a successful conclusion.

New! Click here to find out more about the Gullah New Testament translation, De Nyew Testament.

A previous scripture portion in Gullah was the Gospel of Luke, entitled De Good Nyews bout Jedus Christ wa Luke Write, published by the American Bible Society in 1994. It was very popular, with over 30,000 copies having been sold, and was called the most significant factor in the renaissance of the Gullah Language.*

The following sample of the translation is the draft translation of the Lord's Prayer, from Matthew 6:9b-13...

We Fada wa dey een heaben,
    leh ebrybody hona ya name.
We pray dat soon ya gwine
    rule oba de wol.
Wasoneba ting ya wahn,
    leh um be so een dis wol
        same like dey een heaben.
Gii we de food wa we need
    dis day yah an ebry day.
Fagib we fa we sin,
    same like we da fagib dem people
        wa do bad ta we.
Leh we dohn hab haad test
    wen Satan try we.
Keep we fom ebil.

The Gullah New Testament has now been published by the American Bible Society and was unveiled to the public at the Heritage Days Festival at the Penn Center on St. Helena Island November 12, 2005.

*Katherine Wyly Mille and Michael B. Montgomery, in their introduction (p. xlviii) to new edition of the 1949 classic book Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect by Lorenzo Dow Turner (2002 edition published by the University of South Carolina).