The Chinook Old Testament is full of Jesus!

Jesus or “ShK”, as Shisyu Kri is almost always abbreviated in the shorthand, has a surprising and enormous presence in the BC missionary text summarizing the contents of the Old Testament.

(For my non-Christian compadres: surprising because Jesus doesn’t show up until the New Testament half of the that Bible.)

I’m currently working on a ready example of this paradox of Christian didactics. Kamloops Wawa #118, July 1894 carries a long section from the start of Bishop Durieu’s History of the Old Testament. 

Witness four examples of what’s going on here, then let’s talk reasons:

Page 2:

liiam tolo (2)

Liiam tolo ilip man pi ilip klushmin kopa ukuk iht
stik, kakwa iaka mamuk masachi kanawi tilikom.
ShK alki tolo liiam kopa iht wiht stik, lakrwa
stik: iawa ShK piii kopa masachi.

“The devil won out over the first man and first woman with that one
tree, so he made all people bad.
Jesus would later beat out the devil with another tree, the cross
tree: that’s when Jesus paid for sin.”

cain abel

Page 2 also:

Ukuk tlus Ibil mimlus iaka kakwa pus iht cim
kopa nsaika, pus nsaika chako komtaks kata alki nsaika
taii ShK mimlus. Pi ukuk masachi Kin kakwa pus iht cim
kopa nsaika pus nsaika nanich kata alki Chudas pi Shyus
tilikom mamuk kopa ShK, pus klaska mamuk mimlus
iaka kopa lakrwa.

“This good Abel’s death means the same as a writing
for us, so that we learn how later our
chief, Jesus, will die. And this bad Cain is the same as a writing
for us so that we see how Judas and the Jews will later
act toward Jesus, when they kill
him on the cross.”


Page 3:

Tlus msaika komtaks: ukuk Noi kakwa ShK alki: ukuk
aias knim kakwa liglis Katolik alki. Klaksta wik mitlait
kopa Noi iaka aias knim iaka mimlus kopa chok: klaksta tilikom
alki wik mitlait kanamokst ShK kopa iaka styuil haws, iaka
mimlus kopa masachi, wik kata pus iaka klatwa kopa
sahali ilihi kah nsaika kwanisim tlus.

“You folks need to understand: this Noah is like Jesus is going to be later: this
ship is like the Catholic Church will be. Anyone who wasn’t
on board Noah’s ship drowned: any person
later who isn’t with Jesus in his church,
dies from badness, there’s no way he can go to
heaven where we will always be all right.”

crow dove

Page 3 also:

Pus iht man mamuk masachi pi wik iaka tiki kopit
wik iaka tiki kilapai kopa tlus, iaka drit kakwa ukuk kro Noi
mash klahani kopa ark. Ukuk kalakala nanich ayu tilikom,
ayu mawich mimlus kopa ilihi, iaka mamuk yutl iaka tomtom
pus iaka makmak klaska puli itluil, kakwa wik iaka kilapai
kopa ark. Tlus tilikom, iaka drit kakwa ukuk pishon Noi mash
klahani kopa ark, wik kata iaka yutl tomtom kopa masachi,
kopit iht iaka tiki; iaka pus kwansim iaka mitlait kanamokst
ShK kopa iaka styuil, kopa iaka chirch.

“If a man does bad things and he isn’t willing to stop[,]
[and] he doesn’t want to turn back toward the good, he is the same as this crow that Noah
sent out from the ark. This bird saw a lot of people [and]
a lot of animals dead on the earth, it took pleasure
in eating their rotten flesh, so it didn’t turn back
to the ark. A good person, he is just like this pigeon that Noah sent
out from the ark, he is incapable of taking pleasure from bad things,
there is only one thing that he wants; that is to stay with
Jesus in his prayers, in his church.”

The missionaries felt the need to explain to “the Indians” just about everything they were saying in this Chinook translation.

Since they had a huge task in the form of Christianizing the speakers of numerous Aboriginal languages up to the level of competency of mastering the Catholic catechism — a long series of theological questions, each having only one right answer — they economized wherever reasonable.

In effect, in movie-review terms from 2015, one result was this unique genre that combined Old Testament foreshadowing with New Testament spoilers.

The OT’s colorful, fanciful myths came in handy as mnemonic hooks on which to hang the ultimately more important facts of Jesus’ story.

In this way, Bishop Durieu and crew took essentially the same approach as many Bible translators, especially Protestant ones, in making sure to teach people about Jesus first and foremost.

Look at how many languages possess Bible translations only of the gospel of Mark, for example (like the Chinook Jargon St Marks Kloosh Yiem).

Translators in the field often have only so much time and energy to accomplish even a fraction of the job they were sent to do, so they strategize a choice of a representative Bible selection to finish.