The standard modern language takes its beginning there. Luther's unifying influence affected not only the German language, but to a greater extent its literature as well, with respect to verbal style and persuasive rhetoric. The sheer volume of his own literary production is indeed staggering. Hirst estimates that Roughly one-third of all German writing appearing between and [even before he really got going!
Thus Luther's Bible became not just a legacy, but an important stage in the still gradually awakening consciousness of man. But what is of prime importance is the spiritual significance of all this literary, linguistic, and cultural influence. It is impossible to evaluate its role in the furthering of the Reformation, for its assistance in spreading the Gospel to the common man was immeasurable. Whitford, ed. Luther's Bible served as a primary source for the translations produced later in Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and England.
Conclusion So what more can we say about a Bible translation that was is confessional, communicative, creative, comprehensive, contextual, collaborative, continuative, and consequential—indeed, consummate? Perhaps nothing needs to be added except a sample from the master translator himself and those whom he has influenced and motivated centuries later in another language and a very different cultural and communicative setting. Brian H. I have modified the script of this text and poetically rearranged its lines. Blessed David, however, lauds and magnifies this noble treasure most beautifully in delightful figurative and picturesque language and also in metaphorical expressions taken from the Old Testament worship of God.
He calls it a fine, pleasant, green pasture; fresh water; the path of righteousness; a rod; a staff; a table; balm, or the oil of gladness Ps. Pelikan, H. Oswald, and H. Lehmann, eds. Chauta ndi dzina lake lochukadi. Chauta is that most famous name of his.
Mwa iye, ine kusowa kanthu ayi. In him, as for me—I lack nothing, not at all. My life he always revives it right there. Though it is and remains a translation of course, it was artistically reborn in the gradual process of its complete vernacularization. It is still similar to, but no longer identical with, the original Hebrew poem… One could hold that it has become a German poem of almost independent artistic significance. For a discussion of this rendering and its distinctive poetic features in Chewa, a Bantu language, see Wendland, Translating the Literature of Scripture, I composed the initial draft of this text, which was subsequently revised and polished up by the students of my Psalms exegetical class Lusaka Lutheran Seminary.
According to his well-known name—Chauta! I happen to walk, Mantha onse balala! All [my] fear GONE! Kunena chakudya, ha! Talk about food, ha! Chiko changa cha madalitso chiri nde-nde-nde! Kwanu inu mwandilandiradi ndi manja awiri. They really follow me during [my] whole life down here. So what did this little translation exercise teach us—my students and me?
Such involvement may include actual translation and review work; the careful comparative study of various translations plus how and why they differ; the consistent support of Bible translation, publication, and distribution work, both at home and abroad—on the mission field. But that is not true in most parts of the world today, though the Internet is helping to break that barrier. There are also the extreme danger zones, like North Korea, where even the possession of a Bible is a capital offense.
For thirty years the Lusaka Translation Centre, located on the campus of Lusaka Lutheran Seminary, was instrumental in the production of 8 full Bibles and another 4 New Testaments in the Bantu languages of south-central Africa. A literalistic version is not really helpful, no matter how familiar its wording may be, or how much it may be used, if the average person, young or old, cannot understand it clearly or correctly without pastoral assistance. Nevertheless, there are many today who by faithfully following Luther's principles aided by computer- based tools and internet technology are together, in corporate cooperation, able to accomplish results that he never dreamed possible.
Commissioned and supported by worldwide mission agencies and umbrella organizations, trained personnel are currently seeking to translate the Word of God accurately and idiomatically in hundreds of non- Indo-European languages. It was a republication of the gospel. He made the Bible the people's book in church, school, and house. If he had done nothing else, he would be one of the greatest benefactors of the German-speaking race. The Bible ceased to be a foreign book in a foreign tongue, and became naturalized, and hence far more clear and dear to the common people. Hereafter the Reformation depended no longer on the works of the Reformers, but on the book of God, which everybody could read for himself as his daily guide in spiritual life.
This inestimable blessing of an open Bible for all, without the permission or intervention of pope and priest, marks an immense advance in church history, and can never be lost. Earlier Versions Luther was not the first, but by far the greatest translator of the German Bible, and is as inseparably connected with it as Jerome is with the Latin Vulgate. He threw the older translation into the shade and out of use, and has not been surpassed or even equaled by a successor.
The civilization of the barbarians in the dark ages began with the introduction of Christianity, and the translation of such portions of the Scriptures as were needed in public worship. It is the earliest monument of Teutonic literature, and the basis of comparative Teutonic philology. It slavishly follows the Latin Vulgate. It may be compared to Wiclif's English Version , which was likewise made from the Vulgate, the original languages being then almost unknown in Europe.
Paul to the Laodiceans, which is a worthless compilation of a few sentences from the genuine writings of the apostle. Most of them are in large folio, in two volumes, and illustrated by wood- cuts. The editions present one and the same version or rather two versions,--one High German, the other Low German with dialectical alterations and accommodations to the textual variations of the MSS.
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The revisers are as unknown as the translators. The spread of this version, imperfect as it was, proves the hunger and thirst of the German people for the pure word of God, and prepared the way for the Reformation. It alarmed the hierarchy. Archbishop Berthold of Mainz, otherwise a learned and enlightened prelate, issued, Jan. Even Geiler of Kaisersberg, who sharply criticised the follies of the world and abuses of the Church, thought it "an evil thing to print the Bible in German.
He made judicious use of it, as he did also of old German and Latin hymns. Without such aid he could hardly have finished his New Testament in the short space of three months. It is to all intents a new work. Luther's Qualifications Luther had a rare combination of gifts for a Bible translator: familiarity with the original languages, perfect mastery over the vernacular, faith in the revealed word of God, enthusiasm for the gospel, unction of the Holy Spirit.
A good translation must be both true and free, faithful and idiomatic, so as to read like an original work. This is the case with Luther's version. Besides, he had already acquired such fame and authority that his version at once commanded universal attention. His knowledge of Greek and Hebrew was only moderate, but sufficient to enable him to form an independent judgment.
In the German tongue he had no rival. He created, as it were, or gave shape and form to the modern High German. He combined the official language of the government with that of the common people. He listened, as he says, to the speech of the mother at home, the children in the street, the men and women in the market, the butcher and various tradesmen in their shops, and, "looked them on the mouth," in pursuit of the most intelligible terms.
His genius for poetry and music enabled him to reproduce the rhythm and melody, the parallelism and symmetry, of Hebrew poetry and prose. His crowning qualification was his intuitive insight and spiritual sympathy with the contents of the Bible. A good translation, he says, requires "a truly devout, faithful, diligent, Christian, learned, experienced, and practiced heart. He found for the first time a complete copy of the Latin Bible in the University Library at Erfurt, to his great delight, and made it his chief study.
He derived from it his theology and spiritual nourishment; he lectured and preached on it as professor at Wittenberg day after day. He acquired the knowledge of the original languages for the purpose of its better understanding. He liked to call himself a "Doctor of the Sacred Scriptures. He was urged by his friends, especially by Melanchthon, as well as by his own sense of duty, to translate the whole Bible.
Eine Übung im Stillesein
He began with the New Testament in November or December, , and completed it in the following March, before he left the Wartburg. He thoroughly revised it on his return to Wittenberg, with the effectual help of Melanchthon, who was a much better Greek scholar. Sturz at Erfurt was consulted about coins and measures; Spalatin furnished from the Electoral treasury names for the precious stones of the New Jerusalem Rev. The translation was then hurried through three presses, and appeared already Sept. The Pentateuch appeared in ; the Psalter, They met once a week in his house, several hours before supper.
Each member of the company contributed to the work from his special knowledge and preparation. Melanchthon brought with him the Greek Bible, Cruciger the Hebrew and Chaldee, Bugenhagen the Vulgate, others the old commentators; Luther had always with him the Latin and the German versions besides the Hebrew.
Sometimes they scarcely mastered three lines of the Book of Job in four days, and hunted two, three, and four weeks for a single word. No record exists of the discussions of this remarkable company, but Mathesius says that "wonderfully beautiful and instructive speeches were made. He never ceased to amend his translation. Besides correcting errors, he improved the uncouth and confused orthography, fixed the inflections, purged the vocabulary of obscure and ignoble words, and made the whole more symmetrical and melodious. He prepared five original editions, or recensions, of his whole Bible, the last in , a year before his death.
Some of them are real improvements, e. The charge that he made the changes in the interest of Philippism Melanchthonianism , seems to be unfounded. It passed through innumerable improvements and mis-improvements. The orthography and inflections were modernized, obsolete words removed, the versicular division introduced first in a Heidelberg reprint, , the spurious clause of the three witnesses inserted in 1 John first by a Frankfurt publisher, , the third and fourth books of Ezra and the third book of the Maccabees added to the Apocrypha, and various other changes effected, necessary and unnecessary, good and bad.
Elector August of Saxony tried to control the text in the interest of strict Lutheran orthodoxy, and ordered the preparation of a standard edition But it was disregarded outside of Saxony. Gradually no less than eleven or twelve recensions came into use, some based on the edition of , others on that of The most careful recension was that of the Canstein Bible Institute, founded by a pious nobleman, Carl Hildebrand von Canstein in connection with Francke's Orphan House at Halle. It acquired the largest circulation and became the textus receptus of the German Bible.
Revised versions with many improvements were prepared by Joh. Rudolf Stier , but did not obtain public authority. At last a conservative official revision of the Luther Bible was inaugurated by the combined German church governments in , with a view and fair prospect of superseding all former editions in public use. Duke George of Saxony, Duke William of Bavaria, and Archduke Ferdinand of Austria strictly prohibited the sale in their dominions, but could not stay the current. Hans Lufft at Wittenberg printed and sold in forty years between and about a hundred thousand copies,--an enormous number for that age,--and these were read by millions.
The number of copies from reprints is beyond estimate. Cochlaeus, the champion of Romanism, paid the translation the greatest compliment when he complained that "Luther's New Testament was so much multiplied and spread by printers that even tailors and shoemakers, yea, even women and ignorant persons who had accepted this new Lutheran gospel, and could read a little German, studied it with the greatest avidity as the fountain of all truth.
Such were made by Emser , Dietenberger , and Eck , and accompanied with annotations. Panzer already knew fourteen; see his Gesch. The first four, in large folio, appeared without date and place of publication, but were probably printed: 1, at Strassburg, by Heinrich Eggestein, about or before the falsely so-called Mainzer Bibel of ; 2, at Strassburg, by Johann Mentelin, ? The others are located, and from the seventh on also dated, viz. Sorg, , folio. The Low Dutch Bibles were printed: 1, at Cologne, in large folio, double columns, probably The unknown editor speaks of previous editions and his own improvements.
Stevens Nos. Kehrein I. Stevens gives the full titles with descriptions, pp. Seminary, New York. I examined them. They are ornamented by woodcuts, beginning with a picture of God creating the world, and forming Eve from the rib of Adam in Paradise. Several of them have Jerome's preface De omnibus divinae historiae libris, Ep. Das erst capitel. Krafft illustrates the dependence of Luther on the earlier version by several examples pp.
The following is from the Sermon on the Mount, Matt. Ich des gerichts. Der aber spricht sagt, Racha, der ist des zu seinem bruder. Darum ob du auff den altar opfferst, un opfferst dein gab zu dem wirst alda eyngedenken, attar.
Bis deyn gabe. Sey willfertig gehellig deim deynem widersacher, bald, widerwertigen schyer. Un Gott auff den wassern. Es werde liecht. Es werde dz liecht. Und es ward liecht. Un das liecht ist worden. The precise origin of the mediaeval German Bible is still unknown. On the other hand, Dr. The same author promises a complete history of German Catholic Bible versions. The question has been discussed in periodicals and reviews, e.
Literaturblatt," Leipzig, and Nos. The arguments for the Waldensian origin are derived from certain additions to the Codex Teplensis, and alleged departures from the text of the Vulgate. But the additions are not anti-Catholic, and are not found in the cognate Freiberger MS.
The text of the Vulgate was in greater confusion in the middle ages than the text of the Itala at the time of Jerome, nor was there any authorized text of it before the Clementine recension of The only plausible argument which Dr. Keller brings out in his second publication pp. Dutch, French, and Italian versions also appeared among the earliest prints. See Stevens, Nos. Venetia: per Joan. Rosso Vercellese, , fol. A Spanish Bible by Bonif. Ferrer was printed at Valencia, see Reuss, Gesch. The Bible is the common property and most sacred treasure of all Christian churches.
The art of printing was invented in Catholic times, and its history goes hand in hand with the history of the Bible. The Bible was the first book printed, and the Bible is the last book printed. Between and , an interval of four centuries and a quarter, the Bible shows the progress and comparative development of the art of printing in a manner that no other single book can; and Biblical bibliography proves that during the first forty years, at least, the Bible exceeded in amount of printing all other books put together; nor were its quality, style, and variety a whit behind its quantity.
It was, from beginning to end, a labor of love and enthusiasm. While publishers and printers made fortunes, Luther never received or asked a copper for this greatest work of his life. A German translation from the original languages was a work of colossal magnitude if we consider the absence of good grammars, dictionaries, and concordances, the crude state of Greek and Hebrew scholarship, and of the German language, in the sixteenth century. Luther wrote to Amsdorf, Jan. The science of textual criticism was not yet born, and the materials for it were not yet collected from the manuscripts, ancient versions, and patristic quotations.
Luther had to use the first printed editions. He had no access to manuscripts, the most important of which were not even discovered or made available before the middle of the nineteenth century. Biblical geography and archaeology were in their infancy, and many names and phrases could not be understood at the time. In view of these difficulties we need not be surprised at the large number of mistakes, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies in Luther's version. They are most numerous in Job and the Prophets, who present, even to the advanced Hebrew scholars of our day, many unsolved problems of text and rendering.
The English Version of had the great advantage of the labors of three generations of translators and revisers, and is therefore more accurate, and yet equally idiomatic. He derived the text from a few mediaeval MSS. Stephen, in his "royal edition" of the basis of the English Textus Receptus , and by the Elzevirs in their editions of and the basis of the Continental Textus Receptus , and which maintained the supremacy till Lachmann inaugurated the adoption of an older textual basis Luther did not slavishly follow the Greek of Erasmus, and in many places conformed to the Latin Vulgate, which is based on an older text.
He also omitted, even in his last edition, the famous interpolation of the heavenly witnesses in 1 John , which Erasmus inserted in his third edition against his better judgment. Saxons and Bavarians, Hanoverians and Swabians, could scarcely understand each other. Nobody seems to care sufficiently for it; and every preacher thinks he has a right to change it at pleasure, and to invent new terms.
Luther brought harmony out of this confusion, and made the modern High German the common book language. He chose as the basis the Saxon dialect, which was used at the Saxon court and in diplomatic intercourse between the emperor and the estates, but was bureaucratic, stiff, heavy, involved, dragging, and unwieldy. He enriched it with the vocabulary of the German mystics, chroniclers, and poets. He gave it wings, and made it intelligible to the common people of all parts of Germany. He adapted the words to the capacity of the Germans, often at the expense of accuracy.
He cared more for the substance than the form. He substituted even undeutsch! Still greater liberties he allowed himself in the Apocrypha, to make them more easy and pleasant reading. He avoided foreign terms which rushed in like a flood with the revival of learning, especially in proper names as Melanchthon for Schwarzerd, Aurifaber for Goldschmid, Oecolampadius for Hausschein, Camerarius for Kammermeister. He enriched the vocabulary with such beautiful words as holdselig, Gottseligkeit. Erasmus Alber, a contemporary of Luther, called him the German Cicero, who not only reformed religion, but also the German language.
Luther's version is an idiomatic reproduction of the Bible in the very spirit of the Bible. It brings out the whole wealth, force, and beauty of the German language. It is the first German classic, as King James's version is the first English classic. The best authority in Teutonic philology pronounces his language to be the foundation of the new High German dialect on account of its purity and influence, and the Protestant dialect on account of its freedom which conquered even Roman Catholic authors. Emser, one of the most learned opponents of the Reformation, singled out in Luther's New Testament several hundred linguistic blunders and heretical falsifications.
He published, by order of Duke George of Saxony, a new translation for the purpose of correcting the errors of "Luther and other heretics. The most important example of dogmatic influence in Luther's version is the famous interpolation of the word alone in Rom. It is well known that Luther deemed it impossible to harmonize the two apostles in this article, and characterized the Epistle of James as an "epistle of straw," because it had no evangelical character "keine evangelische Art".
He therefore insisted on this insertion in spite of all outcry against it. His defense is very characteristic. For we do not want to be pupils and followers of the Papists, but their masters and judges. Paul in dealing with his Judaizing opponents 2 Cor. Are they learned? Are they preachers? Are they theologians? Are they disputators? Are they philosophers? Are they the writers of books? And I shall further boast: I can expound Psalms and Prophets; which they can not.
I can translate; which they can not Therefore the word allein shall remain in my New Testament, and though all pope- donkeys Papstesel should get furious and foolish, they shall not turn it out. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic translators used the same liberty of marginal annotations and pictorial illustrations in favor of the doctrines and usages of their own church. Emser's New Testament is full of anti-Lutheran glosses. In Rom. And yet even in the same chapter and throughout the whole Epistle to the Romans, Emser copies verbatim Luther's version for whole verses and sections; and where he departs from his language, it is generally for the worse.
The same may be said of the other two German Catholic Bibles of the age of the Reformation. Dietenberger adds his comments in smaller type after the chapters, and agrees with Emser's interpretation of Rom. Eck's German Bible has few notes, but a strongly anti-Protestant preface. A translation is an interpretation. Absolute reproduction is impossible in any work.
And even where they agree in words, there is a difference in the pervading spirit. They move, as it were, in a different atmosphere. A Roman Catholic version must be closely conformed to the Latin Vulgate, which the Council of Trent puts on an equal footing with the original text. The Romanist must become evangelical before he can fully apprehend the free spirit of the gospel as revealed in the New Testament.
There is, however, a gradual progress in translation, which goes hand in hand with the progress of the understanding of the Bible. Jerome's Vulgate is an advance upon the Itala, both in accuracy and Latinity; the Protestant Versions of the sixteenth century are an advance upon the Vulgate, in spirit and in idiomatic reproduction; the revisions of the nineteenth century are an advance upon the versions of the sixteenth, in philological and historical accuracy and consistency.
A future generation will make a still nearer approach to the original text in its purity and integrity. If the Holy Spirit of God shall raise the Church to a higher plane of faith and love, and melt the antagonisms of human creeds into the one creed of Christ, then, and not before then, may we expect perfect versions of the oracles of God. He says in his Philosophie der Geschichte, p. Hoeppe , W. Skeat The Codex contains also homilies of St. Augustin and St. Chrysostom, and seven articles of faith. The last especially have induced Keller and Haupt to assign the translation to Waldensian origin.
But these Addenda are not uncatholic, and at most would only prove Waldensian or Bohemian proprietorship of this particular copy, but not authorship of the translation. See Notes below, p. It can therefore not be used as an argument for or against the Waldensian hypothesis of Keller. See Fritzsche in Herzog ii, vol. The Gospels for the year were printed about 25 times before ; the Psalter about 13 times before He adds, however, very justly l.
Denn soll einer von einem Dinge reden, so muss er die Sache [Sprache? With wood-cuts by Lucas Cranach, one at the beginning of each book and twenty-one in the Apocalypse.
The chapter division of the Latin Bible, dating from Hugo a St. Caro, was retained with some paragraph divisions; the versicular division was as yet unknown Robert Stephanus first introduced it in his Latin edition, , and in his Greek Testament of The order of the Epistles is changed, and the change remained in all subsequent editions.
Some parallel passages and glosses are added on the margin. It contained many typographical errors, a very curious one in Gal. It has the famous preface with the fling at the "rechte stroern Epistel" of St. James, which was afterwards omitted or modified. The triple papal crown of the Babylonian woman in Rev. Fritzsche l. Auffs neu zugericht. Durch Hans Lufft, M. A copy in the Canstein Bibelanstalt at Halle. The Union Theol.
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The margin is ornamented. See Lit. Lutheri ad Ann. Gieseler IV. Eck's Bible appeared in , at Ingolstadt, Bavaria. Video nunc, quid sit interpretari, et cur hactenus a nullo sit attentatum, qui proficeretur nomen suum. A copy in possession of Dr. Ginsburg in England. See Stevens, l. Portions had been printed before. Grimm, Gesch. His influence on Luther is expressed in the well-known lines "Si Lyra non lyrasset, Lutherus non saltasset. At the end is a Latin letter of Frobenius, the publisher, dated "Nonis Fehr. Anno M. But Dr. Reuss of Strassburg, who has the largest collection and best knowledge of Greek Testaments, denies this.
Schriften des N. Tyndale's English version was likewise made from Erasmus. Graece et Germanice, Preface, p. Scrivener, Introd. The revised Luther- Bible of strangely retains the passage, but in small type and in brackets, with the note that it was wanting in Luther's editions. The Probebibel departs only in a few places from the Erasmian text as followed by Luther: viz. In this respect the German revision is far behind the Anglo- American revision of , which corrects the Textus Receptus In about five thousand places.
Louis the Bavarian introduced the German in See Wilibald Grimm, Gesch. The German Probebibel retains it in this and other passages, as Gen. He judges that Luther's version of Ecclesiasticus Jesus Sirach is by no means a faithful translation, but a model of a free and happy reproduction from a combination of the Greek and Latin texts. Opitz, Ueber die Sprache Luthers, Halle, Lehmann, Luthers Sprache in seiner Uebersetzung des N. I have before me an edition of Freiburg-i. Emser charges Luther with a thousand grammatical and fourteen hundred heretical errors. He suspects p.
He finds p. In our days, one of the chief objections against the English Revision is the omission of the doxology. Leipzig, The first edition appeared before Emser's death, which occurred Nov.
Eine Übung im Stillesein
I find in the Union Seminary four octavo copies of his N. On the concluding page, it is stated that errors of Luther's are noted and corrected. The Cologne ed. Most editions contain a Preface of Duke George of Saxony, in which he charges Luther with rebellion against all ecclesiastical and secular authority, and identifies him with the beast of the Apocalypse, Rev. In his Luther, eine Skizze Freiburg-i.
Trench considers the main objections in his book on the Authorized Version and Revision, pp. The chief passages objected to by Romanists are Heb. The E. See Meyer on Rom. It was published in September, , with special reference to Emser, whom he does not name, but calls "the scribbler from Dresden" "der dresdener Sudler". Grimm, the lexicographer l. I have an old copy of Luther's Testament, without titlepage, before me, where the word allein is printed in larger type with a marginal finger pointing to it.
The most important is his preface to the Epistle to the Romans, and his most objectionable that to the Epistle of James. Durch D. Johan Dietenberger, new verdeutscht. Gott zu ewiger ehre unnd wolfarth seiner heil. Christlichen Kirchen Meynz, , fol. From a copy in the Union Seminary Van Ess library. Well printed and illustrated. They were printed at Ingolstadt, and agree in the number of pages , and vary only in the date of publication. Jerome speaks of versiones which are eversiones. As Trench says, there are in every translation "unavoidable losses inherent in the nature of the task, in the relations of one language to the other, in the lack of accurate correlations between them, in the different schemes of their construction.
Some of them have been silently removed in modern editions. The notes of the older editions abound in fulminations against heretics. Bindseil und H. Halle, , in 7 vols. The N. A critical reprint of the last edition of Luther Niemeyer died after the publication of the first volume.
Not in De Wette's collection, because of its polemical character. A defense of his version against the attacks of the Romanists. Mathesius, in his thirteenth sermon on the Life of Luther. On the merits and history of Luther's version. The best works are by Palm Schott , and the introduction to the Probebibel On the pre-Lutheran German Bible, and Luther's relation to it. Jena, Kehrein Rom.
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Stuttgart, Fritzsche in Herzog, 2d ed. Bonn, 25 pages. Ich will Ehre einlegen unter den Heiden; ich will Ehre einlegen auf Erden. He came to symbolize everything the Protestant Reformation stood for. No other work has had as strong an impact on a nation's development and heritage as has this Book. In Luther's time, the German language consisted of several regional dialects all similar to the tongue spoken in the courts of the Hapsburg and Luxemburg emperors.
How were these scattered dialects united into one modern language? The rise of the middle class, the growth of trade, and the invention of the printing press all played a part. But the key factor was Luther's Bible. Luther settled down and translated Erasmus's Greek New Testament in only eleven weeks. This is a phenomenal feat under any circumstances, but Luther contended with darkened days, poor lighting, and his own generally poor health. Das Newe Testament Deutzsch was published in September A typographical masterpiece, containing woodcuts from Lucas Cranach's workshop and selections from Albrecht Durer's famous Apocalypse series, the September Bibel sold an estimated five thousand copies in the first two months alone.
Though well taught in both Greek and Hebrew, he would not attempt it alone. Never before, and not for many years after, was the scholarship of this body equaled. Forcing Prophets to Speak German Luther remained the principal translator, however. His spirit motivated and guided the Sanhedrin in producing a translation that was not literal in the truest sense of the word.
He wanted this Bible to be in spoken rather than bookish or written German. Before any word or phrase could be put on paper, it had to pass the test of Luther's ear, not his eye. It had to sound right. This was the German Bible's greatest asset, but it meant Luther had to straddle the fence between the free and the literal. To translate properly is to render the spirit of a foreign language into our own idiom. I try to speak as men do in the market place.
In rendering Moses, I make him so German that no one would suspect he was a Jew. Luther, a relentless perfectionist who might spend a month searching out a single word, talked at length with old Germans in the different regions. To better understand the sacrificial rituals in the Mosaic law, he had the town butcher cut up sheep so he could study their entrails. When he ran into the precious stones in the "new Jerusalem" that were unfamiliar to him, he had similar gems from the elector's collection brought for him to study. Luther longed to express the original Hebrew in the best possible German, but the task was not without its difficulties.
They have no desire to give up their native Hebrew in order to imitate our barbaric German. It is as though one were to force a nightingale to imitate a cuckoo, to give up his own glorious melody for a monotonous song he must certainly hate. The result was a German Bible of such literary quality that those competent to say so consider it superior even to the King James Version that followed it. And because it sounded natural when spoken as well as read, its cadence and readability have made it a popular Bible in Germany to this day.
The Book Must Be in German Homes Germans everywhere bought Luther's Bible, not only for the salvation of their souls if such was their concern , but also for the new middleclass prestige it conferred. It was the must book to have in their homes, and many Germans had no choice but to read it: it was likely to be one of the few books they could afford to buy.
It was the first time a mass medium had ever penetrated everyday life. Everyone read Luther's new Bible or listened to it being read. Its phrasing became the people's phrasing, its speech patterns their speech patterns. So universal was its appeal, and so thoroughly did it embrace the entire range of the German tongue, that it formed a linguistic rallying point for the formation of the modern German language. It helped formally restructure German literature and the German performing arts. Its impact, and Luther's in general, were so awesome that Frederick the Great later called Luther the personification of the German national spirit.
Many scholars still consider him the most influential German who ever lived. Uncle of the English Bible As might be expected, the German Bible's impact reached well beyond the borders of the empire. It was the direct source for Bibles in Holland, Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark, and its influence was felt in many other countries as well. Most important, the Bible left a permanent impression on a great translator of the English Bible. William Tyndale, one of the Reformation's champions, had fled from England to the Continent about the time Luther was publishing his German New Testament.
He, too, was translating from the original manuscripts, and possibly he and Luther met in Wittenberg. In previous Bibles, there had been no uniform arrangement; translators placed them in whatever order suited them. Luther, however, ranked them by the yardstick of was treibt Christus—how Christ was taught: the four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John ; the Acts of the Apostles; the Epistles, in descending order of the Savior's prominence in each; and, finally, the Revelation of John. Tyndale followed Luther's lead, as have virtually all Bible translators since.
Many phrases we know today came from Luther, through Tyndale. Luther's auf dem gebirge became was a voice heard in Matthew Tyndale translated from Luther the place of dead men's skulls in John , Ye vex yourselves off a true meaning in 2 Corinthians , Doctors in the Scripture in 1 Timothy , and hosianna in Matthew Like Luther, Tyndale eschewed the Latinized ecclesiastical terms in favor of those applicable to his readers: repent instead of do penance; congregationrather than church; Savior or elder in the place of priest; and love over charityfor the Greek agape.
Both translations flowed freely in a rhythm and happy fluency of narration; and, wherever he could, Tyndale upheld Luther's doctrine of justification by faith. While in many instances the two translators must have reached the same conclusions independently, Luther's strong influence on the father of the English Bible is unmistakable.
Since Tyndale's English translation makes up more than 90 percent of the King James New Testament and more than 75 percent of the Revised Standard Version, Luther's legacy is still plain to see. Luther was exceptionally gifted in many areas. But the aspect of his genius perhaps most responsible for his impact is the one least heralded: his skill and power as a translator and writer. Had it not been for that, the Protestant Reformation and the growth of a united German nation might have taken an entirely different course. Henry Zecher is a personnel specialist at the U. Formerly, he wrote for the Delaware State News.
The Bible was not a book the general public was familiar with. It was not a book most individuals or families could own. There were pulpit Bibles usually chained to the pulpit; there were manuscripts of Bibles in monasteries; there were Bibles owned by kings and the socially elite.
But the Bible was not a book possessed by many. Furthermore, it was rare to find a Bible in the language of the people. There were a number of German translations in existence by the time of Luther, and one French version published already in But it was still the case that the Latin Bible was by far and away the principal Bible available. And indeed, often enough they garbled the snippets they knew. The Latin Vulgate was the Bible that Luther first studied, but he soon became aware of its deficiencies as he delved into the Greek text to discover his revolutionary insights.
That led Luther to another realization: if things were really going to change, it would not come just by debating theology with other learned souls. The Bible needed to be made available in the vernacular in this case German and needed to be widely available. In my view, the most dangerous thing Luther ever did was not nail the 95 Theses to a door. It was translating the Bible into ordinary German and encouraging its widespread dissemination. Luther kept revising this into his waning years, for he realized what a major change agent this translated Bible was.
Luther did not translate directly from the Latin Vulgate, and for some, this amounted to heresy. Luther had learned Greek the usual way, at Latin school at Magdeburg, so he could translate Greek works into Latin. There are tales, probably true, that Luther made forays into nearby towns and villages just to listen to people speak so that his translation, particularly of the New Testament, would be as close to ordinary contemporary usage as possible.
This was not to be a Bible of and for the elite. Wycliffe himself was not solely responsible for the translation; others, such as Nicholas of Hereford, are known to have done some of the translating. The difference between the work of the Wycliffe team and Luther is that no textual criticism was involved; the Wycliffe team worked directly from the Latin Vulgate. And the fallout was severe. Henry IV and his archbishop Thomas Arundel worked hard to suppress the work, and the Oxford Convocation of voted that no new translation of the Bible should be made by anyone without official approval.
Wycliffe, however, had struck a match, and there was no putting out the fire. Perhaps the most poignant tale of this era is that of William Tyndale. Tyndale lived from — and was martyred for translating the Bible into English. Tyndale, like Luther, translated directly from the Hebrew and the Greek, except presumably for cross-referencing and checking. He actually only finished the New Testament, completing about half of his Old Testament translation before his death.
His was the first mass-produced Bible in English. Tyndale originally sought permission from Bishop Tunstall of London to produce this work but was told that it was forbidden, indeed heretical, and so Tyndale went to the Continent to get the job done. A partial edition was printed in just three years after Luther in Cologne, but spies betrayed Tyndale to the authorities and, ironically, he fled to Worms, the very city where Luther was brought before a diet and tried.
He had a remarkable gift for turning biblical phrases into memorable English. But even the Authorized Version was not the first authorized English translation of the Bible. Henry wanted this Bible read in all the Anglican churches, and Miles Coverdale produced the translation. For this and various reasons, many of the budding Protestant movements on the Continent and in Great Britain were not happy with the Great Bible. The Geneva Bible had more vivid and vigorous language and became quickly more popular than the Great Bible.
The Geneva Bible was popular not only because it was mass produced for the general public but also because it had annotations, study guides, cross-references with relevant verses elsewhere in the Bible, and introductions to each book summarizing content, maps, tables, illustrations, and even indices. In short, it was the first study Bible in English, and again note, it preceded the KJV by a half-century. Notably, the Geneva Bible was the first to produce an English Old Testament translation entirely from the Hebrew text.
Like its predecessors, it included the Apocrypha. In short, none of the major Bible translations that emerged during the German, Swiss, or English reformations produced a Bible of simply 66 books. It is true that beyond the 66 books the other 7 or more were viewed as deuterocanonical, hence the term apocrypha, but nonetheless, they were still seen as having some authority. So when and where does the Protestant Bible of 66 books show up? Protestants had long treated the extra books as, at best, deuterocanonical. Some had even called them non-canonical, and there were some precedents for printing a Bible without these books.
The and printings of the Geneva Bible left them out as well. But in any event, these books had not been treated as canonical by many Protestants. No, the biggest rock he threw into the ecclesiastical pond, which produced not only the most ripples but real waves, was his production of the Luther Bible. But he was not a lone pioneer. He and William Tyndale deserve equal billing as the real pioneers of producing translations of the Bible from the original languages into the language of ordinary people, so they might read it, study it, learn it, and be moved and shaped by it.
The Bible of the people, by the people, and especially for the people did not really exist before Luther and Tyndale. Nine hundred! None of the original Reformers could have envisioned this nor for that matter could they have imagined many people having Bibles not just in the pulpits and pews but having their own Bibles in their own homes. The genie let out of the bottle at the beginning of the German Reformation turned out to be the Holy Spirit, who makes all things new.
This includes ever-new translations of the Bible as we draw closer and closer to the original inspired text of the Old and New Testaments by finding more manuscripts, doing the hard work of text criticism, and producing translations based on our earliest and best witnesses to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts of the Bible.
Today, we have over 5, manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, most of which have been unearthed in the last years and some of which go back to the second and third centuries A. We have the discoveries at the Dead Sea and elsewhere providing us with manuscripts more than 1, years closer to the original Old Testament source texts than the Masoretic text the traditional basis for the Old Testament text , and closer than we were in God in his providence is drawing us closer to himself by drawing us closer to the original inspired text in the modern era.
The cry sola Scriptura can echo today with a less hollow ring than in the past because we know today the decisions taken by church leaders in the fourth century to recognize the 27 books of the New Testament and the 39 books of the Old plus a few , were the right decisions. The canon was closed when it was recognized that what we needed in our Bibles were the books written by the original eyewitnesses, or their co-workers and colleagues in the case of the New Testament, and those written within the context of the passing on of the sacred Jewish traditions of Law, Prophets, and Writings that went back to Moses, the Chroniclers, and the great Prophets of old.
While we owe our source texts to the ancient worthies who wrote things down between the time of Moses and John of Patmos, we owe our Bibles Bibles are illegal or where no translation in the local language is available. But thanks be to God, the work can continue because the cry semper reformanda still rings true today.
Then came Luther. PAUL J. He thus stood in sharp contrast to other reformers of his era. Ulrich Zwingli, leader of the new church in Zurich, was a trained musician. Though Zwingli later permitted some vocal music, he rejected instrumental music. John Calvin, though he considered music a gift of God, saw it as a gift only in the worldly domain. Thus, its role in the church was severely limited. Only unison singing of the Psalms was permitted.
Not so for Martin Luther. Modern Lutheran hymnals may contain twenty or more of his hymns, and many non-Lutheran hymnals include several. What role did it play in worship? And what did Luther himself contribute musically to the church? He possessed a fine voice, played the lute, and even tried his hand at advanced composition. Luther loved to cite examples like Moses, who praised God in song following the crossing of the Red Sea, and David, who composed many of the psalms. We must teach music in schools; a schoolmaster ought to have skill in music, or I would not regard him; neither should we ordain young men as preachers, unless they have been well exercised in music.
Still, Luther sought reform. One of his concerns was the predominant use of Latin in the service. The common people needed to hear and sing the Word of God in their own tongue—German— so they might be edified. Luther rejected the implicit teaching that the Mass was a sacrifice the priest offered to God. And all communicants would receive not only the body but also the blood of Christ in the sacrament. Still, though the singing of German hymns was encouraged, Latin remained the principal language.
The shift from Latin to German was also delayed because not many hymns or portions of the liturgy had been translated into German. Near the end of , Luther wrote to Georg Spalatin, pastor to the prince of Saxony, urging him to write German hymns based on the Psalms. By , enough materials had been produced to enable Luther to prepare a service entirely in German. Otherwise the communicated account balance shall be deemed correct. At the beginning of this one-month period, Fraport will notify the Participant of the consequences of remaining silent.
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