A very fresh look at familiar biblical passages

A very fresh look at familiar biblical passages January 29, 2023


Lanai from Lahaina
An evening view from Lahaina across to the island of Lānaʻi.  It’s very similar to the view of Lanai that I have right now, except that I’m considerably closer.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)


We inadvertently attended a Tongan ward in Lahaina this morning and were thoroughly rewarded for doing so.  Almost the entirety of the sacrament meeting was in Tongan, but we had headsets and were able to understand through a very good translator.  The talks were very good.  And the singing?  Spectacular.  Magnificent.  A cappella.  (Nobody was accompanying on the organ or the piano.)  Plainly, our haole wards back in Utah Valley very badly need a transfusion of Polynesians.  I would also add that anybody who either fantasizes that the Restoration is about “white supremacy,” or wants to claim that it actually is about white supremacy, would have found very little to support his or her delusions this morning.  Attending that Tongan sacrament meeting was a high point of our visit to Hawaii thus far.  Next time — always assuming that there will be a next time, which, at my stage of advanced geezerhood, may not be a foregone conclusion — I think that we’ll make a point of attending the Tongan ward; it’s actually closer to us than the ward that we had thought we would attend.


A view from Kaanapali across to Lānaʻi at sunset, taken by my wife with her iPhone during a previous trip


One of my all-time favorite book purchases came here in Hawaii, specifically in Honolulu, several years ago.  It was Da Jesus Book, a translation (entirely serious, I hasten to add, not a joke) of the New Testament into Hawaiian pidgin, a form of English that is spoken by more than a few of the people who live, move, and have their being beyond the sophisticated urban areas of the Hawaiian Islands.   Here is a selection from it, a story from Luke 2 with which, I’m guessing, you’re already familiar:

2 Dat time, da king fo da Rome peopo, Augustus Cesar, wen make all da peopo sign up fo find out how much peopo get every place. Dis da first sign up dey wen make wen Quirinius stay governa fo Syria. Everybody wen go back to da town dea ohana come from fo sign up.

So Joseph wen go from Nazaret town Galilee side, to Betlehem Judea side, King Davidʼs town, cuz he come from King Davidʼs ohana. He go ova dea fo sign up wit Mary, da wahine da ohana wen promise fo marry him. She stay hapai. Wen dey stay dea, da time come fo her fo born her baby. An she wen born her numba one boy, an wrap him up inside some cloths, an lay him down inside one ting fo hold da cows food, cuz no mo room fo dem inside da small hotel.

Dat nite, ova dea inside da fields, get sheep farmas taking care dea sheeps. Right den an dea one angel messenja guy from da Boss Up Dea Inside Da Sky come by dem. All aroun dem one awesome light wen shine from da Boss. An dey wen come real scared. 10 But da angel guy say, “No scared. I come fo tell you guys Good Stuff From God dat goin make you guys an all da peopo stay good inside. 11 Dis day inside King Davidʼs town, one boy wen born dat goin take you guys outa da bad kine stuff you stay doing. He da Christ Guy, da Spesho Guy God Wen Send. He da Boss. 12 Dis how you goin know him. You goin find one baby dat stay wrap up inside plenny cloths, lying down inside one ting fo hold da cows food.”

13 Right den an dea uku paila angel guys from da sky wen show up wit da first angel guy. Dey saying good stuff bout God lidis:

14 “Up inside da sky wea God stay,
    He stay awesome!
An ova hea on top da earth,
    If God like wat peopo doing,
He goin make dea heart rest inside.”

15 Den da angel guys wen go way from dem an go back by God inside da sky. Da sheep farmas tell each odda, “Eh brahs, we go Betlehem fo see dis ting dat wen happen, dat da Boss Up Dea Inside Da Sky wen tell us.”

16 So dey run an find Mary an Joseph, an da baby stay dea, lying down inside one ting fo hold da cows food. 17 Wen dey see da baby, dey tell everybody wat da angel guys wen say bout dis boy. 18 Everybody dat wen hear dat, stay tinking bout wat da sheep farmas wen tell dem. 19 But Mary wen put all dese tings inside her heart, an tink plenny how spesho dey stay. 20 Da sheep farmas wen go back, an dey tell everybody how God stay plenny good an awesome, cuz all da stuff dey wen hear an see, was jalike da angel guy wen tell dem.

To my enormous delight, since my discovery of Da Jesus Book I’ve found Da Befo Jesus Book, which is a translation of nearly 40% of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament into Hawaiian pidgin.  I don’t know how long it’s been around.   To give you a taste of how it reads, however, I offer two passages, chosen essentially at random, from the second chapter of “Da Start” (aka “Genesis”):

God Make Da Firs Guy [Da Start 2:4-7]
Dat time, wen God, da one dey call Yahweh, wen make da world an da sky, All ova da world, neva even have bushes inside da fields. Neva have grass dat come up inside da fields, cuz da God Yahweh neva make da rain come down on top da groun yet, an cuz neva have nobody fo work da groun. Had fog come up outa da groun, an da dew from dat was da ony watta dat da land get, dat time.
Den da God Yahweh take dirt from da groun an make one guy. God blow on top his face fo make da guy come alive. Az how da guy get life inside him.
God Make Da Firs Wahine [Da Start 2:21-25]
21 Den da God Yahweh make da guy lay down an go pass out sleep. Wen da guy sleeping, God take one rib outa him, an den close up da place wit skin. 22 Den da God Yahweh make one wahine outa da rib. He make her go by da guy.
23 Da guy say,
“Now, dis one, jus right fo me!
She da wahine fo me.
Her bones, come from my bones,
Her skin, come from my skin.
Dis one, I goin give her da name ‘Wahine,’
Cuz God wen take her outa me, one guy.”
24 (Dass how come da guys go way from dea fadda-mudda guys, an come tight wit dea wife, an da guy an da wahine, dey come jalike dey one.)
25 Now even so, da guy an da wahine was naked, but dey neva have shame from dat.

This is absolutely marvelous stuff.  Seriously.  The language is sheer joy.  And it’s actually a wonderfully fresh way to read familiar biblical passages.  I love it.


David Palmer's candidate for Cumorah
This hill, Cerro La Vigia, near the town of Catemaco, in the Municipio de Santiago Tuxtla, Veracruz, México, has been proposed by some adherents of a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon as the location of the final Jaredite and Nephite battles (though not, of course, for Moroni’s final burial of the plates to be recovered by Joseph Smith). I think they may be right. If so, the Nephites knew it as “Cumorah,” and the Jaredites knew it as “Ramah.”
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)


I have been remiss in sharing links with you from the unfortunately necessary but generally entertaining Neville-Neville Land blog.  So here are eleven of the most recent.  Enjoy!

“Jonathan Neville takes more swipes at John Sorenson and peer review”

“Jonathan Neville’s claims eerily similar to those in a famous anti-Mormon book”

“Jonathan Neville shills for anti-Mormons (again)”

“Heartlander David Hocking calls Church-approved artwork “pornography””

“David Hocking’s claim about temples and steps”

“Jonathan Neville is unfair and untruthful”

“An open letter to Rian Nelson of the FIRM Foundation”

“My reply to Rian Nelson of the FIRM Foundation”

Another response to Rian Nelson of the FIRM Foundation”

“Neville-Neville Land 2022 year in review”

“Why die on this hill? A reply to Robert Thornton”


Posted from Kaanapali, Maui, Hawaii



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