Tuesday, November 01, 2022

2022 is the 500th anniversary of Luther's New Testament, 1522-2022

"German translations of the Bible have been around since the Middle Ages. After Gutenberg printed a Latin Bible in Germany around 1465, vernacular Bibles in German quickly followed. A Bible in High German was issued by Johannes Mentelin in Strasbourg in 1466. Low German vernacular Bibles were issued in Cologne in 1478 and 1479. In all, before Martin Luther issued his famous translation of the New Testament in 1522 (Luther’s full translation of the Bible was published in 1534), there were at least 18 editions printed of the complete Bible in German and several dozen editions of portions of the Bible, such as Gospel books and Psalters." https://scblog.lib.byu.edu/2013/04/24/german-bibles/

So, I suppose you could say this is a Brigham Young University Library (Mormon) source, but that's not the only source that reports on the many Bibles available in German before Luther's famous translation. Here's another one:

"By the time of Luther's birth in 1483, no fewer than nine such editions of the complete Bible in High German and two in Low German had appeared, with further ones still to come before the publication of the Reformer's "September Testament" in 1522. In fact, by the latter date, the total had increased to fourteen High-German and four Low-German editions of the entire Bible, to say nothing of editions of portions of Scripture and manuscript copies." https://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/books/86/

Excerpt from the book, "German Bibles Before Luther, The Story of 14 High-German Editions," by Kenneth Strand, 1966. So why do I open a magazine from Fall 2022 (Lutheran Bible Translators Messenger) and read:

"Five hundred years ago, the German people lived in darkness. They needed relief and deliverance of the Gospel message. The church used a Latin translation, something only the educated understood. Some translations were available in other languages, but they were not very good."

Here's my take (and I'm a Lutheran in NALC, one of the newer synods):

1. To the victor belong the archives (this is a librarian axiom). All the easily available church history books are published by Protestant scholars and publishers, each of which has its own bias on the Bible and history,
2. Misinformation and disinformation is not a feature of just the 21st century. What we read, hear and "know" is cumulative, paraphrased, folded in on itself and sometimes just gossip. I read a few paragraphs in the Strand book (you can download it), and it would seem that before the early 20th century, no one even looked for older German translations.

3. Technology was changing lives and creating revolutions in the 15th century also, and Gutenberg did more for our learning and making information available quickly than Zuckerburg.

Just my thoughts.

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