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The Scriptures in Nahuatl

Cristo, yaya catli tenextilía Toteco ya ipa itztoya quema ayamo oncayaya nochi catli onca. Cristo senitztoya ihuaya Toteco huan yaya Toteco. Yaya itztoya ihuaya Toteco ipan ipejya nochi catli onca. Cristo quichijchijqui nochi tlamantli, huan niyon se tlamantli catli onca amo yolqui iseli. Yaya nopa nemislismacaquetl huan quinmaca nemilistli nochi catli itztoque. Yaya nopa tlahuili catli quintlahuilía masehualme ipan ininyolo. Ni tlahuili tlahuía campa onca tzintlayohuilotl huan nopa tzintlayohuilotl amo hueli quisehuía.

(Juan 1:1-5)

At El Cañón, the first congregation we visited in the Huasteca, I noticed that even though most all the members knew Nahuatl, the singing was done in Spanish and there was a noted absence of a Nahuatl Bible. I inquired about this there, and as far as I could tell the Bible had not been translated into Nahuatl.

However, at Tlapexmecayo I discovered from the preacher there that a Bible did indeed exist in their native tongue—but it was translated by some denomination, and had doctrinal errors in it. At La Soledad brother Macario Zuniga showed me his Nahuatl Bible, and even brother Pascual owned one.

I was full of questions. If a Nahuatl Bible does exist, why don’t people use them? Are there truly errors in the text that could potentially deceive someone seeking the truth? At the house of brother Pascual (the man who recently started a congregation in his home), José Hernández Félix and brother Nicolás clarified it all for us.

Quite simply, no one reads or writes Nahuatl. Everyone who knows how to read and write does so in Spanish, because Nahuatl is a spoken language only. Granted, it is fairly easy to write the language using the Roman alphabet, but it is not taught in schools and practically no one can do it with ease.

Although some Aztecs have Bibles written in their own language, by far most of them read from the Reina-Valera version in Spanish. Perhaps this situation will change in the future, and only time will tell whether a new Nahuatl translation will be needed to aid the spreading of the Gospel.

10 thoughts to “The Scriptures in Nahuatl”

  1. I think it is a shame that some have written Bibles in only new Testament ,When it should be read in whole
    in order to understand the three angles msg because when we get to Revelation this allows us to recap and understand each book each msg from the beginning to
    the end Revelation .Gods word is more powerful whole
    and should be printed whole in native Nahuatl and other dialects .
    If it is done in only in part ,Then Satan will pick up the slack thus a door has been left open for him and his legions …God bless

  2. While I agree that the Holy Scriptures should be made available in their entirety, the main problem with the currently available Nahuatl Bibles is that they presumably contain doctrinal errors that could lead one astray concerning the truth. And although the Old Testament is certainly useful in understanding the background of the New, I do believe that one can certainly come to understand the truth and be a member of the church without reading it.

    Anyway, thanks for visiting Ziphen Central! Comments are always appreciated.

  3. Hello! I am looking for bibles written in nahuatl. After reading all this comments, I am not sure whether there is a nahualt bible or not. Is there one? I will be traveling to Veracruz in April 2009 and I promised I would have some if I found the bibles written in Nahuatl. I will look until I find them.

    Maria Garza

  4. Yes, there is a Bible in Western Huasteca Nahuatl. However, the varieties of Nahuatl spoken in Veracruz are quite different from this one. Which part of Veracruz will you be going to?

  5. There is a Nahuatl Bible that is bilingual that is used in the Sierra Madres. The address listed in the front is La Biblioteca Mexican del Hogar, A.C Apartado 32-288, Mexico 1, D. F. I know the pastor that uses it and the Witcliff translators who translated it (many years ago). You may be able to write there and see if you can get copies. I’m guessing it is the publisher. The copy I have was given to me by a pastor in Zacoapoxtla, They use it throughout the mountains of Puebla, but I do remember as the main author of this wrote, most the songs were in Spanish, but when we were there they translated messages through 3 languages- English to Spanish to Nahuatl. It was pretty cool.

  6. Thanks Benjamin and Amanda for your replies. This will help me greatly. The places of travel are Cerro Azul and Tlapacoyatl. Speaking of Witcliff translators, I live in the same city. I will contact them as well. Thank you so much.

    Maria Garza
    Dallas, Texas

  7. You can find most of the available Bible translations in Mexican languages at http://www.scriptureearth.org. Many have at least one book in audio that can be downloaded for those who can’t read the language. Most can be purchased through a link to a print-on-demand service if you need a hard copy. The electronic version is free and can be freely copied.

  8. Scripture Earth is a relatively new website sponsored by Wycliffe Canada. It also has Scripture from all over the Americas and a few from other parts of the world.

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