Zunis Narrate Bible for Film

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Bible translators in the Native American community of Zuni, N.M., are making the first movies in the Zuni language.

The translation team meets at Zuni Christian Reformed Church, where native Zuni speakers and trained Bible translators agree how to translate a passage. Then Zunis record the words for dubbing into a movie version of the Bible. Volunteers mail the finished movies to every house in town. Translator Carolyn Murray said many Zuni people are excited to receive them.

“When they get these films in their mailboxes, they watch them because it’s a novelty, it’s in their language,” said Murray.

Most Zuni people speak their language at home or in traditional ceremonies, but, Murray said, might struggle to read a printed Zuni Bible since the language is seldom written. Movies make the Bible accessible.

“That’s how people will come to know God,” said one Zuni translator. Zunis on the team have decided to keep their names off the project.

The translators finished voice work on their fourth movie just before Christmas. That movie required 32 Zuni voices. Many Zuni CRC people spoke parts. Some brought friends who don’t attend church but wanted to be part of the Zuni-language project.

“It’s a wonderful witness for them to come and be speaking these words from the Bible,” said Murray. “We just keep praying that it’ll have an impact.”

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