The British Sign Language project stretching back 2,000 years | BBC News

Sign language has experienced a surge of interest in the past couple of years.

Deaf actress Rose Ayling-Ellis wowed on Strictly Come Dancing last year – and the film Coda, about a teenager who is the only hearing member of a deaf family, won best picture at the 2022 Oscars.

Now another project under way, with its roots stretching back more than 2,000 years: the Bible is being translated into British Sign Language (BSL).

Rev Dr Hannah Lewis, a Deaf priest based in Liverpool, always believed she had a good understanding of the Bible. As someone who is “completely bilingual in English and BSL”, she didn’t think she was missing out.

“I can read it, I can understand it, I can preach on it. But when I see the Bible in BSL it just hits me – emotionally, spiritually – in a way that reading never will.

“However good the interpreter, you’re receiving the Bible once-removed,” she told Radio 4’s Sunday programme.

BSL is Hannah’s first language and, as such, the most meaningful.

Currently, while there are some non-traditional versions of the Bible available in BSL, there has been no official translation until now. Previously it had come down to the subjective reading of individual interpreters – their take on the stories and words on any given day. Come the following week, or a different interpreter, the Bible stories might be signed slightly differently and convey slightly different meanings.

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