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The Cockney and the Aussie Bibles (Well, Bit of ’em anyway) December 17, 2022

Posted by Pete B in Bible Translation, Dialect versions.

Covers of the Bible in Cockney a nd the Aussie Bible

When the Gospels in Scouse were published in 1967, the publishers advertised five other versions in preparation for series:

  • The Gospels in Cockney
  • The Gospels in Geordie
  • The Gospels in Brum
  • The Gospels in Glasgae
  • The Gospels in West Indian

As far as I can tell these particular versions were never published but drafts may live on in some distant corner. Over 30 years later a London RE teacher, Mike Coles tried to make Bible stories more engaging to pupils by retelling them in an East London dialect complete with Cockney Rhyming slang. The retold old testament stories lead to a verse by verse translation of the gospel of Mark and by the time it was published it received an endorsement by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey.

If you find that hard to believe you are not alone. A decade after the original publication it was featured on British TV show Would I lie to you, were panellists pondered whether it was true or not, possibly the only time in which the Lord’s prayer was read on the show.

After selling over 20,000 copies it was printed again, and has just been re-released, this time by the Bible Reading Fellowship as a “luxury commemorative edition of a classic title“.

In Australia it inspired the Aussie Bible which sold over 100,000 copies in the first few years, was published by the Bible Society of Australia and endorsed by many including the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney and Australia’s deputy prime minister.

The official website for the Aussie Bible is no longer online but lives on at the internet archive.

As mentioned, I can find no record of the other gospels by the same publisher in Geordie, Brum, Glasgae, and West Indian mentioned as “Titles in preparation”, back in 1977 when my copy of the Gospels in Scouse were published. But there was a collection of Geordie Bible stories published in the 1970’s. I am not aware of any published gospels in Brummie (Birmingham), but there are some in the neighbouring Black Country dialect.

Jamie Stewart’s Glasgow Gospel were published in 1992 and chapters serialised in Glasgow’s Evening Times. The author died in 2022 at the age of 95 (read more here and access a free copy of Psalms for the People).

2010 saw the publication of the Gospel of Luke in Jamaican Patois with the full Jamaican New Testament published in 2012 and available on YouVersion in text and audio. The Jamaican New Testament is undoubtedly a ‘proper’ translation but what should we call the others?


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