American Sign Language Bible now complete after 39 years

by Jenny Mount · Sep 22nd, 2020 3:38 pm
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Last Updated Sep 23rd, 2020 at 12:27 pm

A translation of the Bible in American Sign Language has just been completed after 39 years of work.

Work on the translation into ASL began in 1981 with Independent Christian Church minister Duane King.

In 1970, after meeting a deaf Christian couple who avoided going to church because they did not understand what was going on, King decided he wanted to learn how to sign so that he could help the deaf community.

After King and his wife, Peggy, planted a church and a mission for the deaf in Iowa, King started working on an ASL Bible.

"Most hearing people don't understand how difficult it is to learn to read what you cannot hear," King said last year. "Deaf people rely so much on their eyesight that they want everything to be tangible — they want to be able to see everything."

Harold Noe, who worked with Deaf Missions and was a Hebrew and Greek scholar, said in a 2004 interview that the translation is sometimes difficult due to ASL having a different syntax than English.

"The same sign used for `resurrection' is the sign for `stand up,'" explained Noe. "I recall working with some children at the Iowa School for the Deaf. When I signed that sign for resurrection, the kids would stand up. I kept saying, `No, it's not time to go yet.'"

To watch the ASL videos or for more information on Deaf Missions, visit the organization's website at deafmissions.com. The organization also offers classes and produces devotionals for the deaf.


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