One of Australia’s top Anglican leaders yesterday admitted to being sceptical about the idea of an Aussie Bible – until he’d actually read it.
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, said he had been hesitant before picking up “The Aussie Bible (Well bits of it anyway!)“, a retelling of the story of Jesus’ life from the New Testament using the Aussie idiom.
“I was very sceptical before reading it, you have to be very careful that we give (the message of) the real Bible,” Dr Jensen said at the launch of the book in Sydney.
Author Kel Richards described the book as a story of the Bible being told by the kind of bloke who stands around a barbecue in Bondi with his friends.
For example, when Mary is told God has chosen her to be the mother of Jesus: “The angel said to her, ‘G’day Mary. You are a pretty special sheila. God has his eye on you’.
“Mary went weak at the knees, and wondered what was going on. Then she said, ‘My soul is as happy as Larry!”‘
Dr Jensen said his original problem had been accepting this kind of language.
“No-one actually talks like this, I don’t talk like the people in the book so that made me a bit sceptical,” he said.
“But when I read it, there is so much in it that is Australian, that I could see myself in it.”
Dr Jensen said the book’s illustrations had also shocked him by portraying Jesus as an Australian.
“I’ve never seen that before, he’s always portrayed as a… northern European or a person from the Middle Ages, (but) suddenly he’s an Aussie and it makes a difference.”
Bible Society CEO Daniel Willis said the publication was important for the church’s message.
“Last year, 62 million copies of the Bible were distributed worldwide, but the ability of people to read and understand the Bible has actually dropped significantly,” he said.
“Our mission is to ensure that all people have access to… the Bible, in a format that they can understand.”
Richards had retold some of the story of Jesus using “typical Aussie larrikin tongue-in-cheek humour”, Mr Willis said.