Bible translators plan Scripture versions in 400 sign languages for deaf people around the world

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – IllumiNations, an alliance of 11 Bible translation organizations, has added 400 sign languages to the thousands of Bible language versions it wants to provide for people around the world, Christianity Today (CT) reports. illumiNations has a stated aim of providing Bibles in all languages by 2033.

It took 40 years and 50 translators to complete the American Sign Language Version (ASLV), currently, the only Bible translation for the deaf, CT reports.

In a statement to CT, J. R. Bucklew, the founder and former president of the Deaf Bible Society, and director of major gifts at Pioneer Bible Translators said: “Still only one sign language of the over 400 has a complete Bible. And still, no other sign language outside of the American Sign Language has a full New Testament. There’s a lot of work ahead of us.”

Many deaf ministries, Bible societies, and Bible translations organizations are rallying to support the development of new sign language versions, but the enterprise requires considerable funding – $195 per verse, CT says. Fundraising led by Christian groups such as Passion has already begun: the estimated cost of translating 400 sign language Bibles is $350 million.

However, money is not the only challenge to this immense project. Multilingual deaf Bible translators are needed to translate from the original or from American Sign Language, CT reports. This is a challenge as many deaf people around the world are not offered an education or taught sign language.

Nevertheless, according to Bucklew, an increasing number of deaf leaders are coming to the fore in Bible translation work, and are helping to overcome the challenges. “Through a bunch of imperfect people and imperfect institutions, a holy God is doing a perfect work,” Bucklew said.

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