Is God hip? Consider this rendering of the Creation: “Now when the Almighty was first down with His program, He made the heavens and the earth.” Such is the tone of the Black Bible Chronicles (African American Family Press), a recently released paraphrase of the Pentateuch.

The book’s colorful text puts the first five books of the Old Testament through the filter of today’s urban slang. And so when God confronts Adam after the Fall, he says, “What’s up, brother? Who hipped you to the fact you don’t have on any clothes?” Or when the Ten Commandments are delivered to Moses, we hear, “You shouldn’t diss the Almighty’s name, using it in cuss words or rapping with one another. It ain’t cool and payback’s a monster.”

The “Almighty” of the Chronicles is a smooth and cool Creator who would feel right at home on the streets of the inner city. And that is exactly what the book’s author, P. K. McCary, is seeking. “It’s important that the Bible be accessible to all of society in a language they can understand.”

McCary, a 40-year-old single mother of three, conceived the idea for the Chronicles 13 years ago when she realized her Sunday-school class of young teens was turned off by the archaic tone of King James English. She slowly began to tailor Bible stories into a style with which they could relate.

Ted Travis, president of Neighborhood Ministries, an outreach to inner-city Denver, says he could use the Chronicles as a tool in reaching kids. “I can see value in it, as long as we recognize its limitations as a paraphrase.”

Though initial response has been generally positive, some church leaders, both black and white, have criticized it as being irreverent or as an endorsement of substandard English.

But McCary is not deterred. She is already working on streetwise adaptations of the Prophets and the Gospels.

By Ed Gilbreath.

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