Posted by: Chris Sandel | May 29, 2008

Da Jesus Book

I recently got one the best gifts I’ve gotten in a long time.  My friend Jessica, our Early Childhood Minister, went to Virginia last week and she brought back this awesome book for me.  It is an odd version of the New Testament.  It sounds like some kind of Ebonics or creole dialect.  We had lots of fun just flipping through over the last couple of days.  I can’t really do it justice without letting you actually flip through it because every page is better than the last but here is one passage you might recognize.  Can you figure out where it is from?

 “God, you our Fadda.
You stay inside da sky.
We like all da peopo know fo shua how you stay,
An dat you stay good an spesho,
An we like dem give you plenny respeck.
We like you come King fo everybody now.
We like everybody make jalike you like,
Ova hea inside da world,
Jalike da angel guys up inside da sky make jalike you like.
Give us da food we need fo today an every day.
Hemmo our shame, an let us go
Fo all da kine bad stuff we do to you,
Jalike us guys let da odda guys go awready,
And we no stay huhu wit dem
Fo all da kine bad stuff dey do to us.
No let us get chance fo do bad kine stuff,
But take us outa dea, so da Bad Guy no can hurt us.
Cuz you our King.
You get da real power,
An you stay awesome foeva.
Dass it!”

Jessica found it in the humor section at a huge book fair.  She was sure it was a joke Bible (which is understandable).  But the cover said something about “Hawaii Pidgin” and it was actually done by Wycliffe (a famous Bible translation organization).  I wasn’t entirely sure it was fake so I hopped online and sure enough, it is actually a translation from a Hawaiian dialect.  Here are a few quotes from their website explaining their approach to this translation.

  •  “Jesus Christ, he fo everybody. He not jus fo da peopo dat talk English.”
  • “Get plenny peopo dat undastan da local Pidgin mo betta den da English. Az good, dey check out wat God say, dea own language!”
  • “Da Pidgin Bible talk strait to da heart fo plenny peopo. Fo dem, da English talk mo to da head.”
  • “Da peopo dat know Jesus, if dey goin do good job fo help odda peopo find out bout Jesus, an teach, dey gotta use dose peopo’s language, so dose peopo can know him fo real too.”

When Kyle, our student ministry intern saw it he made a classic comment.  He has been an outspoken critic of The Message paraphrase of the Bible (though it is probably exagerated as a joke now).  His first response to Da Jesus Book was “well, at least I like it better than the Message.”   (Maybe you had to be there but it was really funny at the time.)

Anyway, if you ever get the chance, be sure you check this out.  It will paint the Bible in a whole new way for you.

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Responses

  1. Hi! I got a kick out of your comments on the Hawaii Pidgin New Testament! A couple of years ago, when my husband-to-be and I were going through pre-marital counseling, our pastor had us read out of this version (he routinely used it to emphasize portions of his sermons). We laughed every time we tried to get the words out naturally. Now, we both work for Wycliffe Bible Translators and this New Testament has a whole new meaning to me… Wycliffe has a vision to see a Bible translation program started in every language still needing one by the year 2025. Hawaii Pidgin is now one of the just under 2,500 languages that has at least some Scripture translated. Just 2,251 more to go… 🙂

    If you’re interested our website is http://www.wycliffe.org.

    Thanks for making me laugh!

  2. Lord’s prayer, of course… so fun though!

  3. I figured out what it was, and it was well said, I think?

    But it brought back memories of my Sunday School teacher reading to us from, now I am not making this up, it was something like, The Cabbage Patch Bible. I guess I really can’t remember but it was in Southern ex-slave dialectic. It was wonderful! Does anybody know what I am talking about?

    Mom

  4. My grandparents have a copy of this book because they were missionaries through Wycliff in Bolivia. I picked it up off the shelf, and couldn’t believe what I was reading! But I really love this translation because, once you figure out the interesting language and translate it back to English, it is so plain and simple. The Bible can be so confusing to me, and since it’s in English, I find myself getting distracted. But when I have to slow down to figure out exactly what I am reading, it makes much more sense. Can’t wait until they finish “Da Befo Jesus Book”!!

  5. Marvelous! Just got my copies from Borders. It is worth the wait for special order. Absolutely loads of fun to read and interpret. I will be sending ofne to my friend from Hawaii.

  6. “Da Jesus Book” is an excellent job of putting the New Testament into Hawai’i Pidgin. My kama’aina wife’s family assures me it sounds right. Just translating the Lord as “da Boss” puts the Gospels into perspective.

    I’m informed that the prequel translation, “Da Befo Jesus Book,” might be completed in 2009. “Dey stay check all da stuff fo be right,” a site explains. It should be both an instructive read and a fun book to have.

    I note Ms. Sandel’s comment above about the “Cotten Patch Bible.” It was done in the 1970s by the late Clarence Jordan, who ran the Koinonia Farms Community down in Georgia. It might still be available.

    Bert Knupp

  7. I am looking for the publisher of the Cotten Patch Bible. Anyone know where it is published? Please let me know.

    Thank you.

  8. I am searching for “The Cabbage Patch Bible”. Does anyone have any idea where it can be found.

    I have located “Cotton Patch Bible”. I am very curious about “The Cabbage Patch Bible.”

    • What a pleasure to find someone who identifies the issues so clealry

  9. Im looking for psalm 32:5 in da jesus book or maybe in the befo jesus book. every week at church we have a memory verse to learn and I would love to recite this passage from one of these books. Can you help?

  10. Just got news of this Bible at our recent youth conference. This is all we have been talking about. But I do agree with the comment that the translation back into “English” makes the Bible plain and simple. It’s also fun trying to figure out what it is saying….DASS IT!


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