The Apostles’ Creed for the Maasai

The Apostle’s Creed is a favorite of mine, so too the topic of translation. While we sit and debate the proper method of biblical translation, I think that an example such as this should enter into our conversation. How would you translate something so simple as the Apostle’s Creed into a foreign culture so as to make it compatible with their mind? The following was translated for the Maasai people in East Africa.

Maasai Apostles’ Creed

Greek icon of the Twelve Apostles (in the fron...
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We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created man and wanted man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the earth. We have known this High Go

d in the darkness, and now we know him in the light. God promised in the book of his word, the Bible, that he would save the world and all nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good his promise by sending his son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing that the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He was buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, he rose from that grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him. All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love, and share the bread together in love, to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe.
Amen

So, how does this translate into the topic of bible translation? I think that cultural and local experience plays a part in biblical translation, dispelling the notion that a word for word translation (which is hardly completely possible) is always needed or preferred. If the point of translation is to get the audience to understand what is being said, we need to open up a little on those translation styles.

You might also enjoy a lecture by Jaroslav Pelikan on the topic on Creeds and local experience.

The Carpenter’s Table: Masai Version of the Apostles’ Creed.

Post By Joel Watts (10,052 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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2 thoughts on The Apostles’ Creed for the Maasai

  1. I like the section that says ‘ He created man and wanted man to be happy in the world’. Hakuna matata!

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