Da Jesus Book is the New Testament translated into Hawaii Pidgin — the language spoken by about 600,000 people in Hawaii. Many locals in Hawaii have a hard time relating to English bibles that have unfamiliar words like: justification, sanctification, righteous, covenant, etc. For example, Lord is translated “Boss,” sin is translated “do bad kine stuff,” righteous is translated “get um right wid God, do da right ting, and “abide in Christ” is translated “stay tight wid Christ.”
Joe and Barbara Grimes came to Hawaii in 1989 to work with local people translate the Bible into Pidgin. They worked with about 20 people all over in their homes or in fast food places. I was one of the translator guys who worked with Joe and Barbara. The Pidgin Bible is a serious project. We started with the Greek text and sought to put the meaning of the Greek text into the way Hawaii Pidgin speakers would say it.
The Grimes were part of Wycliffe Bible Translators and translated the Bible into Huichol language for the Huichol people in Mexico. Joe was a linguistics professor at Cornell University before he moved to Hawaii. His wife Barbara wen mahke 2014. Joe and pastor Earl Morihara are working to finalize Da Befo Jesus Book (Old Testament).
Translating the Bible into local languages (vernacular) is part of the Orthodox Tradition. In the 800s, two Orthodox Christians, Kyril and Methodios, were sent by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Photios, to be missionaries to the Slavs and to translate the Bible and the Liturgy into the language of the Slavs. This approach to doing missions was different from the missionary strategy of the Latin West which insisted that worship be done in Latin and insisted that the Slavs follow only Latin customs and practices. When Orthodox missionaries came to Alaska, they sought to translate the Bible and the Liturgy into the languages of the indigenous peoples of Alaska and the Kodiaks. As a result, Orthodoxy is deeply rooted in Russia and among the indigenous peoples of Alaska and the Kodiak.
The Pidgin translation will play an important part in Orthodoxy’s outreach to Hawaii’s Local population. Pidgin is the heart language for many Hawaii Locals. Pidgin is very much a part of Hawaii’s multi-cultural society as Olelo Hawai`i (Hawaiian) is intrinsically part of Hawaii. If our Orthodox missions out in West Oahu welcome the use of Pidgin then we will send a powerful message to the Locals that Orthodoxy is not some weird outside religion, but God showing plenny love an respeck fo da Local peopo. That they no need come all haolified if they become Christians (Christ guys). That Jesus’ message for them and their friends and family all over Hawaii. Let us go ask God that this going happen real soon!
See Pastor Dan Chun’s article about Joe and Barbara Grimes.
See Barbara’s obituary by Brian Migliazza
See James Stamoolis’ article: “Eastern Orthodox Mission Theology.”
Watch Marlene Booth’s video: “Pidgin the Voice of Hawaii.”