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Monday, 26 February, 2001, 16:56 GMT
Would you Adam and Eve it?
religious generic
It is hoped the translation will attract new bible readers
A teacher who has translated the Bible into cockney rhyming slang to make it more fun for his pupils has received the full backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The new interpretation of nine stories from the Old Testament and Mark's Gospel, to be published in May, finds Jesus walking on "fisherman's daughter" (water), breaking "Uncle Ned" (bread) and turning water into a glass of "rise and shine" (wine).

"If it manages to get people reading the Bible who would not normally do so, then it has achieved an invaluable work."

Dr George Carey,
Archbishop of Canterbury
Author Mike Coles, who has lived and taught religious education in the East End of London for 15 years, began re-writing the stories after pupils were amused by his references to Jesus as a "geezer", and his friends as "china plates" (mates).

He told BBC News Online he had been surprised by the positive reaction to his translation.

"I fell in love with the cockney idea," he said.

'Need for respect'

Although admitting that rhyming slang is not widely used among children, Mr Coles, who teaches at Sir John Cass C of E Secondary School in Stepney, points out that certain phrases, such as "porkies" (pork pie = lie) have been absorbed into the national vocabulary.

But he has drawn the line at changing Jesus Christ to "cheese and rice", after deciding there was "a need for a bit of respect".

Cockney rhyming slang used in the translation includes:
Mickey Mouse (house)
Finger and thumb (mum)
Uncle Ned (bread)
Rise and shine (wine)
Fisherman's daughter (water)

Mr Coles hopes the "Captain Hook" (book), featuring a foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, will encourage children to take more of an interest in the bible and the message behind it.

It might even persuade "saucepan lids" (kids) to spend more time reading and less time in front of the "custard and jelly" (telly).

Dr Carey said: "The Bible in cockney takes it out of the formal church setting, and puts it back into the marketplace, into the streets, where it originally took place.

'Invaluable work'

"This version puts the energy and passion back into the stories.

Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes the cockney bible
"If it manages to get people reading the bible who would not normally do so, then it has achieved an invaluable work."

Tony Maher from the Plain English Campaign said he doubted the translation would further the cause of plain speaking, but he welcomed the intentions behind the project.

He said: "If they are actually communicating to people then that is fair enough."

Pointing out that young people invented their own "doublespeak" without the help of cockney bibles, he said: "Anything you can do to increase literacy skills and get children to read is a good thing."

A spokesman from the Department for Education declined to comment on the possible effect of the book on literacy and standards, saying it was "a matter for the Church".

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