Deaf Ministry 301: Deaf & Bible Translations?

Again, this is only the view of my own perspective, and not in the perspective of the church that I serve for nor the people that i worship with. The correct Bible translation for Deaf people have always been an ongoing debate between many congregations that I have been a part of.

When I grew up, I had a KJV Bible, which was my first Bible given to me from my parents when I was around 10 years old.  Over the years, I really hadn’t been exposed much to different translations out there. My family was pretty much a KJV type of Bible reading throughout my entire childhood. Although, I had a KJV Bible, I honestly have to confess..I did read it but I didn’t fully understand it. Now I know i was not the only one in the world with this problem because KJV tends to be a little hard for some to fully grasp the words.

Today I have probably 8 different versions of Bible translations. I value the Life Application NIV version as it is more easier for me to study from. Now the debate happens that the NIV has some verses missing in its translation, thats good for us to know…but when it comes down to preach those verses, I will pull those verses from the translation that HAS those missing verses..although I don’t think studying about the “worm” (Mark 9:44 which is deleted from NIV) will help much as I have never seen or heard any other pastor preaching about it. But thats the benefit of having more than one version of Bible translations to look into and find the one that is best for signing in American Sign Language. I study from a Life Application NIV and I preach from it as well.

In my Easter sermon 2 years ago, I quoted 5 different translations of what the angel told the women who had come to see Jesus body in the tomb (after it was rolled away)….”Come and see” was the traditional words in all 5 translations. I wanted to make sure that everyone understood that even though the words of all Bible translations maybe different…the important ones are sometimes the same.

Now..enough about my preferences…what about the Deaf congregations? I have seen some use the CEV, the NIV, the KJV, the NASB, the Deaf-easy-to-read, and a few others that I cant think of. Our Deaf church, we have Easy to read versions for those who do not bring their Bibles…I beleive only one person in our congregation has a KJV, many of the others have NIV version. I tell my congregation that what I preach and what I put on my powerpoint slides are NIVs unless noted on the slide. Sometimes i will point out an interesting point of a different translation to make the connection more clear.  I have learned that the KJV is never my interest in preaching, encouraging to purchase it, or even studying from it. My spiritual self feels more connected and more comfortable and led to the NIV.

I had a couple come tell me that they went to another church to visit and came back blasting at me and upset telling me that I should not be preaching or studying from a NIV. Because it was missing verses and that many are saying that it is similar to a Jehovah Witness’ Bible version. That may be true, but I am not Jehovah Witness and I am not hiding any verses. As i said, the time comes..i will preach those verses if needed. In replying back to this couple, I told them..”Ok so you are saying every Deaf person needs to be using KJV only? If that is true, then do you think everyone will understand it and benefit from it?”  It comes back to that verse I mentioned in last post…”Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial” Interesting, the next verse says “Everything is permissible but not everything is constructive”…my point exactly on the Bible translations. Not everyone will benefit from a KJV. I applaud those who do benefit from it, but I do not want to seem pushy towards it and I do not beleive our God wants us to force the one version of KJV on our people.

In closing, I have always told Deaf…you pick a Bible that best fits you. If its a children’s Bible, get it. If its a Deaf Bible, get it. If its a NIV, get it. If its a Picture Bible (from Deaf Missions) get it. I have no problem with translation Bible versions, as long as they speak truth and the individual is being spiritually fed through the Word of God at home and at church. But overall, I think the best version for any Deaf person would be a “Visual-Bible translation” which would include dramas, visuals, and signing of the scriptures.

Some may argue that my perspective seems a little liberal. If we can’t be liberal or flexible in our methods to reach the lost Deaf…we defintely do not need to be legal preaching the only one Bible translation….if we can’t be liberal…and we can’t be legal….then why don’t we all try to be something in the middle…which I like to call..holy.  Again, I close….”If God is in your Bible translation and it leads you to that one translation, who can be against it?” 

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5 thoughts on “Deaf Ministry 301: Deaf & Bible Translations?

  1. Actually there’s nothing “liberal” about that perspective. The reason the NIV “deletes” verses is simply because those verses do not appear in the Greek or Hebrew. Bluntly stated, those verses aren’t in the Bible! They were likely added later.

    What these people who get angry don’t realize is that the JW “bible” was purposely translated wrongly in order to make the Bible fit their doctrines. The NIV simply tries to be faithful to the original writings. This is probably a sin on my part, but I don’t have a lot of patience nor kind words for those who cause trouble over Bible translations.

  2. One thing I forgot: the view of the people who blasted you is actually a minority view, a very very small minority. Unfortunately, these guys are a vocal minority. Generally speaking, they don’t want to do their own homework and find out the truth for themselves, they just follow the silly thinking that “since it was good enough for Peter, Paul, James and John; it’s good enough for me!” 😉

  3. Steve, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who have to put up with others who tells me the KJV is a big must. While I respect KJV, I am more comfortable with my NIV with study guidelines, etc. I have had that bible since 1987…and I get so much out of it.

    Some deaf who are very stubborn and insists KJV is the only way to go, I try to end the subject by saying, “If God wants me to use KJV, He would make it more clear to me. However, God speaks to me through NIV…so be it. But please don’t twist my arm over which translation to read!”

  4. Hi Steve, I truly appreciate for your comments on my blog. I was really very excited to work on what God wants me to share with them, smiles.

    Honestly I am not worried about any Bible translations. I believe that God does speak to every one who uses KJV, NIV, when they read their Bible. I respect that.

  5. Hi Steve, Thought I would check out your blog today and came across this one. This is interesting as right now I am cleaning out a past Deaf Pastor’s house here in Flint. You don’t know this man.. I never knew him myself. He is in hospice care now.

    Anyways, he must have over 1000 Bible related books in his house and I’m selling the majority on eBay for him. Check it out at http://www.bienleindesign.com.

    But, I wanted to point out that there must be over 100 Bibles in this house and very few duplicates. I am simply amazed at all these different translations. I have not studied them to know how they differ but the choices are just amazing.

    As for me, I’ll stick with my NIV Bible that has my kids photos glued on the inside front cover. Can’t get more personal than that!

    Keep up the good work. God bless.

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