Making the Bible Your Own–Incarnational Translations

I took a couple of classes in January at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, beginning a certificate program in Christian formation. One of the most interesting things discussed in my classes was the idea of “incarnational translation” of Bible passages.  This is the idea of taking a verse, or several passages of scripture and rewording it to fit a situation.  I’m so excited to share this with the EYC group and have them take the “live it” bible verses we have been discussing and create incarnational translations.

For example, I adore the movie, “Tombstone.” I love the loyal friendship during the rough days of the “wild west” that Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp share and this movie never gets old to me.  So, I thought it would be interesting to do an incarnational translation, infusing a little “Tombstone” into the words of the Bible.


An Incarnational Translation of:

Psalm 121:1-8

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and for evermore (NRSV)


1 I look up to the vast blue sky—
and I call out for help.
2 My help comes from the One,
who came to gaze on starry nights and  walk dusty paths.
3 Even though I feel I might stumble in boots too big for me;
God will not stumble or forget me.
4 the One who keeps Texas
will wait up at night like a worried parent of a sick child.
5 He will send your defender;
a Doc Holliday to Wyatt Earp.
6 A true friend who will shield you,
Someone to calm the darkness and fear of night
7 The Lord will call to you if you turn away;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and for evermore (NRSV)

Here is another incarnational translation, that maybe young people could relate to:

A New Testament Incarnational Translation of:

Matthew 5:23-24

23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.


Matthew 5:23-24

So when you are going into school one day, and you remember that yesterday you had an argument with a friend at lunch in the cafeteria, go to that person, and ask them to forgive you, and then go about your day and ace that test!

Here is your challenge!  Take a passage from the Bible, and see how you can rewrite it!  Think about your day, or a problem you might be having.  It is a great way to put it in perspective.  You might even solve your problem!  Submit it to me and I will post it on the website!

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