Jeffrey (Kapali) Lyon, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Department Chair

Curriculum Vitae

Office: Sakamaki Hall A307

Office Hours: Tuesdays 2pm-3pm and Wednesdays 11am-12pm.

Phone: (808) 956-6848


Background and Research Interests
After receiving my PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Literature at UCLA, I worked for over 25 years outside of academia as a software engineer, although I remained active in scholarship, particularly in Hawaiian language and literature. In 2010 I accepted a tenure track position at the University of Hawaiʻi (Mānoa) where I teach biblical literature (Old Testament, New Testament, Life of Jesus, apocalyptic literature), Hawaiian religion and literature, and  offer courses and tutorials in various languages (Ancient Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Classical Arabic, and Hawaiian). My earlier research focused on the Gospels in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic once used throughout much of the ancient Near East, but now work primarily in 19th century Hawaiian language and literature, particularly in connection to the coming of Christianity to Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. The collision of two radically different cultures and world views (Polynesian and Euro-American) produced a remarkable and vibrant society that poured forth a voluminous literature, largely unknown to the outside world. My work in this literature focuses on the translation of the Bible from the biblical languages into Hawaiian) and Native writers who grew up under the traditional, pre-Christian culture (prior to 1820), and then, having received a western education, wrote extensively about the life of kānaka both before and after the adoption of Christianity.


Journal Founder and Editor

Palapala Palapala – He puke pai no ka ʻōlelo me ka moʻolelo Hawaiʻi (a journal for Hawaiian language and literature). University of Hawaiʻi Press. Volume I, January 2016.



The Moʻolelo Hawaiʻi of Davida Malo (vol. I) – Ka ʻŌlelo Kumu o kā Davida Malo Moʻolelo Hawaiʻi

University of Hawaiʻi Press (in press) Expected late 2016 or early 2017.

This is the first volume written entirely in Hawaiian to be published by the University of Hawaiʻi Press. It is an attempt to apply the methodologies of classical philology to an early and important Hawaiian text, Davida Malo’s ethnographic work on classical Hawaiian civilization, Ka Moʻolelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian Ethnography). Following an extensive introduction to the textual sources, their histories, and inner relationships, each page of Bishop museum manuscript HI.L.18, partially in Malo’s own hand, is presented with a facing line-by-line transcription in the left column, a critical Hawaiian text in the right column, and an apparatus critcus underneath.

The Moʻolelo Hawaiʻi of Davida Malo (vol. II) – Text and Translation
by Charles Langlas and Jeffrey Lyon, with a biography of Malo by Noelani Arista
University of Hawaiʻi Press (in press) Expected late 2016 or early 2017.

This volume presents a detailed introduction to Malo’s life and work, focusing on the goals and character of his Moʻolelo Hawaiʻi, perhaps the single most important witness to Hawaiian civilization before Christianity. The bulk of the volume contains the complete critical text of Malo’s original Hawaiian with a new, annotated side-by-side English translation. This volume is the fruit of twelve years of collaborative labor and one which, we hope, will set a new standard for the publication of important Hawaiian language texts.

Syriac Gospel Translations : A Comparison of the Language and Translation Methods used in the Old Syriac, Diatessaron, and Peshitto
Volume 88 from the series Corpus Scriptorum Christianorm Orientaliium (CSCO), Subsidia
Published by E. Peeters, Louvain, 1994

In this work the three oldest translations of the Gospels into Syriac are minutely compared in five passages, one from each Gospel and one common to the Synoptics, in order to ascertain their translation methods and linguistic differences. In the conclusion, guidelines are set forth for their use in the Greek textual apparatus and the linguistic data is applied to four questions: 1) what are the sources of the linguistic anomalies in the Old Syriac, 2) when was the Old Syriac translated, 3) who translated it, 4) what is its relation to the Diatessaron (Peeters 1994).

Selected Articles

Academic Software Development

A complete Latin course (level one and level two) on DVD for Mac or PC, equivalent to roughly two years of college Latin, but intended for home study by high school and college level students. Version one was published in 1995 and version 2.0 in 2007 by the leading publisher of classical texts in the USA, Bolchazy-Carducci publishers. To view a demo, click here.

Courses Regularly Taught

  • REL 200 – Understanding the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible
  • REL 201 – Understanding the New Testament
  • REL 210 – Understanding Christianity
  • REL 300 – The Study of Religion
  • REL 371 – Prophecies of the Last Days
  • REL 409 – Life and Teachings of Jesus
  • REL 600 – History and Theory of the Study of Religion
  • REL 663C – Graduate Seminar in Hawaiian Religion

For complete course descriptions see UH Mānoa Course Catalog.