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Interpreting spoken English clearly into American Sign Language sometimes requires describing in detail words, concepts, or phrases. This process is called ASL Expansion. One expansion technique is called Describe, Then Do. Consider how you would explain these words in sign language.

1 Timothy 3:16 – Inspiration – The sign “inspire” means to fill with emotion, or to be encouraged. But here the word “inspiration” means “God-breathed.” So, how can that be signed for clear understanding? An interpreter could sign, “I-N-S-P-I-R-E. God breathe. You know, God, Heaven, Himself speak (mime speaking going down to Earth). Man writer // God, His speak // (mime God’s speaking coming down to you as the writer) Understand. Write. Words write from? God.” – Please understand that it is difficult to write sign language exactly. Hopefully this example helps.

Philippians 2:7-8 – No Reputation – This term has a lot of meaning. Simply put, one could sign, “None R-E-P-U-T-A-T-I-O-N. Jesus Christ himself in Heaven, equal God. Same-as God. Jesus boss, superior, high, king. Himself king robe take-off, lay-down. Himself (mime CL:L come-down-to-earth). Now Earth, Jesus high, king, boss, superior, NOT. None boss superior.

How would you clearly sign or expand these words? Accompany (Heb 6:9) – Impute (James 2:23) – Ransom (Matt. 20:28) – Redemption (Col 1:14) – Regeneration (Titus 3:5) – Justify (Rom. 3:24) – What other Bible words would become visually clear using ASL Expansion? Although church interpreters may not have enough time to fully expand all unfamiliar words, Bible teachers can use these techniques to help their lessons become very clear.

Bring your “hard Bible words” to ASL Institute this summer. The interpreter track will take time to answer your questions and give alternative ways to sign these words, while maintaining the integrity of Scripture, preaching, and sound doctrine. See you there! – JB
More information: SilentWord.org/ASLI
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