The Bible Society of South Africa has asked a team to translate the Bible for the Deaf from editions of the oldest manuscripts of the Old Testament and New Testament. To translate the Old Testament the standard Masoretic Text as published in the 5th revised edition (bibeldigital) of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (edited by K Elliger, W Rudolph, HP Rüger, 1997, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart) was used. The Greek text used in translating the New Testament was the 27th revised edition (bibeldigital) of The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (edited by B Aland, et al, 1993, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart). These are the source texts used by the United Bible Societies worldwide and by almost all the churches.
We do not have the original letters or manuscripts of the Bible writers. The first books were copied by hand and copied again. In some of these copied manuscripts people wrote extra words and verses into the manuscript and today we have different manuscripts of some of the books that are not the same. The Bible Societies always look for the best and oldest texts and that is the texts and manuscripts that are being used in this translation.
May I share the draft translations of the EBD with other people?
Yes, of course. The Bible Society of South Africa and the translators want Deaf people all over the world to read these Bible books and tell us if they understand the draft translations. Please remember that this text is not the final text and that we want Deaf people to help us change the text where they don’t understand it.
Is this the first Bible for the Deaf?
No. The Bible Society of South Africa translated and published Die Bybel vir Dowes for the Afrikaans Deaf in 2007. This Bible was well received and read by both Deaf and hearing people and the Bible Society decided to publish it as Die Bybel vir almal in 2008. The World Bible Translation Centre in Texas published an easy to read Bible which was later named the Holy Bible: English Version for the Deaf. The Deaf in South Africa do not understand this English Version for the Deaf because the level of English in this Bible is too high for our Deaf.
How do the drawings in the Bible help readers?
There are many things in the Bible that modern people and Deaf people have never seen, things like musical instruments, weapons that they used in war, farm equipment and clothes. We have used a lot of drawings to help readers understand better what these things are and looked like, so that they can understand the Bible better.
How many footnotes will there be in this Bible?
At this stage there are more than 1 800 different footnotes in the English Bible for the Deaf, but because we want to show most of the footnotes on the same page as the difficult words appear in the text, there will be a lot of footnotes on each page, and we estimate about 60 000 footnotes in the completed Bible.
When will this Bible be completed?
We planned for the text of the English Bible for the Deaf to be completed in five years, when the layout and printing will start, and we pray that it will be published during 2017.
Who has asked for an English Bible for the Deaf?
The Afrikaans Bible for the Deaf was started because a Deaf man asked for such a translation in 1984. When dr. Hough from the De la Bat congregation for the Deaf in Cape Town visited Kenya in 2011, pastors from churches for the Deaf in Nairobi called a meeting, where he told them about the Afrikaans Bible for the Deaf that was translated by the Bible Society of South Africa. Some of them immediately asked him if he could mediate in translating the Bible in the same way in English for the Deaf. This need was repeated by Deaf people in Cape Town and some of them were willing to help in this project. Dr. Hough conveyed this request to the Bible Society of South Africa and they immediately responded positively and were willing to fund this project. The project was launched in the De la Bat congregation for the Deaf on the 26th of August 2011.
Why can't Deaf people read other Bible translations?
It is difficult for any hearing person to learn Sign Language and even more difficult for Deaf people to learn all the customs and principles of a spoken language like English. Research has shown that the average language development of adult Deaf in South Africa is the same as that of an 8 to 12 year old hearing child. That is why Deaf people struggle to understand existing Bible translations.
Why not create a Sign Language Bible for the Deaf?
Deaf people communicate in Sign Language and they would choose a Sign Language Bible if there were one available on DVD or computer. Unfortunately that is very expensive to make and most of the Deaf in Africa do not have apparatus to watch a Sign Language Bible. In Kenya, DOOR (Deaf Opportunity OutReach) is busy with 5 Sign Language Bibles because the Deaf from different cultures and countries do not use the same Sign Language. If we want to make a Sign Language Bible for all the Deaf in Africa, we would need more than 150 different Sign Language Bible projects. But most of the Deaf in Africa have learnt English at school and they use English when they send SMS messages, e-mails, letters and faxes. This is why we are producing this simplified and easy English Bible for the Deaf.
For whom do you translate this Bible?
There are a lot of hearing impaired people who have lost their hearing after they have developed a spoken language or who are partially deaf. In the United States of America the size of this group is estimated at almost ten percent of the population. Most of them do not need a simplified Bible translation, but people who are born deaf and speak Sign Language, have great difficulty in learning the language of hearing people. The English Bible for the Deaf is meant for these culturally Deaf persons in South Africa, Africa and any other person who wants to use this Bible because it is easy to understand.
Why an English Bible for the Deaf?
Less than 2% (12 000) of the 600 000 Deaf people in South Africa and probably a smaller percentage of the ten million Deaf in Africa have access to a church of any denomination or have a Bible that they can read and understand. Deaf people have asked the Bible Society of South Africa to translate the Bible using easy words so that they can read about the love of God.