If you will all please turn to Genesis 6: 12-13...


September 03, 1993

AND NOW, if you will all please turn to Genesis 6: 12-13, we will read together:

"So the Almighty was hipped to what was going down. He told Noah that because of these hard times He was gonna get rid of the world. 'I'm fed up, Noah, with what's happenin' 'round here. These folks ain't what's happenin' anymore, so I'm gonna do what I gotta do, and end things once and for all. Man, I'm gonna blow the brothers clear outta the water.' "

The Almighty hipped? Gonna blow brothers outta the water? Are we reading the same book?

Yes and no. We are reading the "Black Bible Chronicles," an "interpretation" of the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, by Houston writer P. K. McCary. Published by African American Family Press ($14.95), the book will hit bookstores in September. But already a first printing of 40,000 has sold out.

Subtitled "A Survival Manual for the Streets," "Black Bible Chronicles" retells the well-known stories in street talk: "And that bad ol' serpent told the sister, 'Nah, sister, he's feeding you a line of bull. You won't die. The Almighty just knows that if you eat from the tree, you'll be hipped to what's going down."

Admittedly, these are not the rolling cadences of the King James Version.

"When I first wrote it in 1980, I thought of it as black dialect," the author says. "I just thought of it as black slang."

The 40-year-old single mother of three began telling Bible stories in slang as a sometime Sunday school teacher in Prairie View, Texas, in suburban Houston.

"Over the years, I have found that kids just pick up on this language. For them, it's a kick. As my daughter would say, 'It's tight.'"

McCary says she is aware, but not particularly concerned, that the street language in her paraphrase may provoke criticism. "If you look in the unabridged dictionary, 'ain't' is now accepted, and 'hi' for 'hello.'"

Besides, "I tell people not to use it by itself. This is just a beginning. I recommend people use it with a study Bible." A footnote to each story in the "Chronicles" tells readers where to ,, find the equivalent passage in the King James Version.

The point, she says, is to make the Bible accessible. "At one time, the Bible wasn't even allowed in the hands of common people.

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