HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - “Da one in charge take kea his peopo, one David kine song fo God,” Pastor Earl Morihara said, reading from a new pidgin version of the complete Bible.
“Most people who are born and raised in Hawaii, they understand pidgin,” he said.
Morihara grew up speaking pidgin.
He’s so good at talking “la dat” that in 1985 he and linguistics professor Joseph Grimes of Wycliffe Bible Translators started translating the New Testament of the Bible into Hawaii pidgin.
"We just started to translate a few verses, and for me it spoke to me," he said.
Turns out, it spoke to a lot of people. Other pidgin speakers pitched in and Da Jesus Book was born. The New Testament in pidgin was released in 2001.
Then the translators went to work on the Old Testament. It turned into a 20-year project.
"Sixty-six percent of the whole Bible is the Old Testament, and it's in another language. It's in Hebrew," said Morihara, a campus pastor at New Hope Central Oahu.
It took three decades to do the entire Bible. But it’s finally finished.
"It's called Da Good An Spesho Book," Morihara said.
Bulla Eastman of Free Inside Ministry uses the pidgin Bible when he preaches to prison inmates.
“To me the legacy is if one person can come into the kingdom because of the publication of Da Good and Spesho Book, we’ve hit the home-run,” he said.
Translating scripture is hard work. Words must match the intent of the original languages, and it needs to be readable.
"We didn't want just a great translation to be sitting on a shelf somewhere. We wanted it to be dog-eared, or written up, where people are using it, crying on it, reaching their soul," he said.
About 30 people worked on the Hawaii pidgin’ version of the Bible, and it’s become a model.
"This translation is also helping and influencing other translation projects around the world," Morihara said.
The Good An Spesho Book will be in stores in September. It’s lavishly illustrated and includes maps, charts, and definitions of English words that were too tough to translate.
Now Morihara’s working on an audio version.