Originally scheduled for July 22
There are many translations of the Bible.
Indeed, the Christian who goes to a local bookstore to buy a copy of
the Bible is confronted with a large array of different versions.
Some of these versions are based on the same translation, usually
the New International, and others are completely different
translations — with very different purposes. Some attempt to be a
modern update of the great King James Version; others brag about
their footnotes or even which famous preacher wrote the devotional
commentaries that are included.
There are also some specialty versions. One of
the most common of these is a Bible for someone who's English is not
very good — for example, someone who is a recent immigrant to our
country. There are others which are designed to be used by new
Christians, or for those in a particular age group. We have a wide
variety of these Bibles.
One of the most specialized of these versions
is the Bible for the Deaf. It is not an adaptation, but an original
translation specifically designed to be transmitted in sign
language. Apparently, sign language has its limitations in
transmitting what might be considered the ordinary text of the
Bible. In a sense, it's a translation into a foreign language for
most of us — a language made up of pictures.
It's not entirely a unique idea. There are
several languages on the planet, quite common, which are ideographic
– meaning they are made up of pictures rather than letters. Japanese
is one such language, likewise Chinese and if you go back far
enough, Egyptian hieroglyphics. Our road signs are also
pictographic, which brings with it the advantage that people who
don't speak English can still understand our "no parking" signs. If
you will, everybody "gets the picture."
Communion is pictographic as well. The bread
that we use is a picture of the body of Christ. It's a simple
picture which makes it easy to understand in any language. The cup —
wine in the time of the apostles — was selected because it is red,
and therefore an excellent picture of the blood which he shed on the
Signs and languages have a purpose: to convey a
message. Communion conveys a message too. It tells us that our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ loved us so much that he died on a cruel
cross so that we might be forgiven of our sins. This simple picture
was given to us so that we might remember the greatest gift ever
given to mankind.