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?”