The Journey of Life – Pilgrim’s Progress for Contemporary Africa

Paperback; 158 pages, Published by Opal Trust, 1 Glenannan Park, Lockerbie, DG11 2FA, Scotland. ISBN 978-1-907098-04-8.

Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, a wonderful narrative of life as a journey, caught the imagination of the English-speaking world for many years, and no Christian book has probably had a bigger impact after the Bible. Let us hope that this may happen in Africa with this adaptation! Certainly the publication is attractively presented.

The author has adapted the language, the range of vocabulary is restricted and the sentence length is ‘short to medium’ so that it reads well! The setting is also adapted; the place is southern Africa. Apollyon is not a foul fiend with darts but an evil-looking snake which spits poison; Christian bemoans the sin of allowing his wife to go to the witchdoctor. The time has changed; we are in the modern world. Faithful meets a woman called ‘No Morals’ who seeks to seduce him, but he resists her not only because he remembers parts of the book of Proverbs, but also because of the danger of HIV/Aids. ‘Hold-to-the-World’ teaches the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ – with the blessings of cell-phones, new cars, and clothes. ‘Money-Lover’ tells a business man to be religious and go to a large church where he will get more customers and have a good chance of marrying a rich, religious wife. Names of characters and places are changed, so ‘Pick-Thank’ becomes ‘Yes, bwana’, and ‘Vanity Fair’ ‘Great Market’.

Another change is that longer passages of teaching and conversation have been reduced or omitted, whilst illustrations have been introduced which are very helpful in adding much colour, and a flavour of the setting. Five or six questions under headings with scripture references feature at the end; for example, ‘"Money Hill" – Why is “Money Hill" so dangerous? Luke 16 vs. 11-14; Acts 5 vs. 1-11; 1 Timothy 6 vs. 9-10; Hebrews 13 v. 5’. Another pertinent question at the end is, ‘Why are there so many officials like “Desire for Empty Glory’, “Great Wealth”, “Sexual Sin”, in our countries and governments?’

This last point reminds us that Bunyan’s original has timeless features; treasure and pleasure remain strong sources of temptation in our world! Another common feature is the frequent use of realistic dialogue, and, of course, the plot. For readers in the UK, read Bunyan first. However, both books will encourage and uplift any believer.

[Our thanks to Bryan Charles, Appledore, Devon, England, for this review]


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