Bible offers parallel text in Hawaiian and English
This year, Good Friday and the start of Passover fell on the same day, April 19, also coinciding with a full moon that etched a metallic shimmer on the black Hawaiian sea.
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This year, Good Friday and the start of Passover fell on the same day, April 19, also coinciding with a full moon that etched a metallic shimmer on the black Hawaiian sea. This rare conjunction of the Christian and Jewish holidays and the moon brings to mind the way the Old Testament and New Testament are brought together in a new, bilingual edition of “Ka Baibala Hemolele: The Holy Bible” (Mutual Publishing, $69.95).
The keepsake volume lovingly folds both books between night-black, gilt-lettered leather covers. Hawaiian and English language texts lie side by side, facing each other for easy cross-reference on every moon-white page.
It was stirring to open ka buke to “Kinohi” or “Genesis,” and begin reading “I kinohi hana ke Akua i ka lani a me ka honua”/“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Darkness was upon the waters until God said “I malamalama”/“Let there be light.” One can easily imagine how it must have felt to the Hawaiian scholars, including John Papa Ii, David Malo, Hoapili kane, Kuakini and Samuel M. Kamakau, who worked with the missionaries on the original, 1839 Hawaiian translation of the Bible that meant the key to literacy for their people.
A preface by Helen Kaowili, the Hawaiian Bible project director, gives a history of previous editions of both the English and Hawaiian language bibles that precede this one. “In 1868 the text went through a major revision,” Kaowili said in an email. “The current text is a transliteration and revision of the 1868 text.”
Previous versions have taken out the Hawaiian diacriticals ‘okina and kahako, here replaced, while “w”s have been removed in some cases, for instance, changing the spelling of “auwe” to “aue.” Lovely 19th-century maps of the Holy Land and other places illustrate the endpapers and several interior pages. The book opens flat, inviting easy perusal, and the way that the design enhances the simplicity and directness of the language makes this Baibala a surprisingly quick read.
The 10-year process of producing this bible with a team of scholars and volunteers was led by Partners in Development Foundation (PIDF), a nonprofit that provides a range of free programs in education, social services, environmental sustainability, and integrating Hawaiian language/culture for at-risk communities in Hawaii.
At the season of renewal, it’s timely to have this beautiful new edition of “Ka Baibala Hemolele,” available at local bookstores, Queen Emma Summer Palace shop, and Target as well as through mutualpublishing.com and pidf.org.