Philip Schaff (1 January 1819 – 20 October 1893) was a Swiss-born, German-educated theologian and a historian of the Christian church, who, after his education, lived and taught in the United States. The sourced material on this page is taken from his extensive History of the Christian Church. It presents his discussion of vernacular translations of the Bible: in particular Martin Luther's vernacular translation.
- 1 Sourced
- 1.1 Ulfilas's Gothic translation
- 1.2 German versions of the Bible that preceded the Luther Bible
- 1.3 Luther's competence as a Bible translator
- 1.4 Luther's Bible club
- 1.5 Roman Catholic rival German versions of the Bible
- 1.6 Which Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible did Luther use?
- 1.7 Notable examples of Luther's renderings of Hebrew and Greek words
- 1.8 How Luther's theology may have influenced his translating
- 1.9 Notes
- 2 External links
Schaff's History of the Christian Church, 8 vols., (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910), 7:191-205 abridged:
Luther's Translation of the Bible. The richest fruit of Luther's leisure in the Wartburg, and the most important and useful work of his whole life, is the translation of the New Testament, by which he brought the teaching and example of Christ and the Apostles to the mind and heart of the Germans in life-like reproduction. 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.
His version was followed by Protestant versions in other languages, especially the French, Dutch, and English. 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. There are more accurate versions for scholars (as those of De Wette and Weizsäcker), but none that can rival Luther's for popular authority and use.
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.
The Gothic Bishop Wulfila or Wölflein (i.e., Little Wolf) in the fourth century translated nearly the whole Bible from the Greek into the Gothic dialect. It is the earliest monument of Teutonic literature, and the basis of comparative Teutonic philology.
German versions of the Bible that preceded the Luther Bible
During the fourteenth century some unknown scholars prepared a new translation of the whole Bible into the Middle High German dialect. It slavishly follows the Latin Vulgate. It may be compared to Wiclif's English Version (1380), which was likewise made from the Vulgate, the original languages being then almost unknown in Europe. A copy of the New Testament of this version has been recently published, from a manuscript in the Premonstratensian convent of Tepl in Bohemia. Another copy is preserved in the college library at Freiberg in Saxony. Both are from the fourteenth century, and agree almost word for word with the first printed German Bible, but contain, besides the New Testament, the apocryphal letter of St. Paul to the Laodiceans, which is a worthless compilation of a few sentences from the genuine writings of the apostle.
After the invention of the printing-press, and before the Reformation, this mediaeval German Bible was more frequently printed than any other except the Latin Vulgate. No less than seventeen or eighteen editions appeared between 1462 and 1522, at Strassburg, Augsburg, Nürnberg, Cöln, Lübeck, and Halberstadt (fourteen in the High, three or four in the Low German dialect). 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. of the Vulgate, which was in a very unsettled condition before the Clementine recension (1592). 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. 4, 1486, a prohibition of all unauthorized printing of sacred and learned books, especially the German Bible, within his diocese, giving as a reason that the German language was incapable of correctly rendering the profound sense of Greek and Latin works, and that laymen and women could not understand the Bible. 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."
Besides the whole Bible, there were numerous German editions of the Gospels and Epistles (Plenaria), and the Psalter, all made from the Vulgate.
Luther could not be ignorant of this mediaeval version. 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. But this fact does not diminish his merit in the least; for his version was made from the original Hebrew and Greek, and was so far superior in every respect that the older version entirely disappeared. It is to all intents a new work.
Luther's competence as a Bible translator
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. What he lacked in scholarship was supplied by his intuitive genius and the help of Melanchthon. 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."
Progress of his Version. Luther was gradually prepared for this work. 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 made his first attempt as translator with the seven Penitential Psalms, which he published in March, 1517, six months before the outbreak of the Reformation. Then followed several other sections of the Old and New Testaments,—the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Prayer of King Manasseh, the Magnificat of the Virgin Mary, etc., with popular comments. He was urged by his friends, especially by Melanchthon, as well as by his own sense of duty, to translate the whole Bible.
He began with the New Testament in November or December, 1521, 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. 21). The translation was then hurried through three presses, and appeared already Sept. 21, 1522, but without his name.
In December a second edition was required, which contained many corrections and improvements.
He at once proceeded to the more difficult task of translating the Old Testament, and published it in parts as they were ready. The Pentateuch appeared in 1523; the Psalter, 1524.
Luther's Bible club
In the progress of the work he founded a Collegium Biblieum, or Bible club, consisting of his colleagues Melanchthon, Bugenhagen (Pommer), Cruciger, Justus Jonas, and Aurogallus. They met once a week in his house, several hours before supper. Deacon Georg Rörer (Rorarius), the first clergyman ordained by Luther, and his proof-reader, was also present; occasionally foreign scholars were admitted; and Jewish rabbis were freely consulted. 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."
At last the whole Bible, including the Apocrypha as "books not equal to the Holy Scriptures, yet useful and good to read," was completed in 1534, and printed with numerous woodcuts.
In the mean time the New Testament had appeared in sixteen or seventeen editions, and in over fifty reprints.
Luther complained of the many errors in these irresponsible editions.
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 1545, a year before his death.
The edition of 1546 was prepared by his friend Rörer, and contains a large number of alterations, which he traced to Luther himself. Some of them are real improvements, e.g., Die Liebe höret nimmer auf, for, Die Liebe wird nicht müde (1 Cor. 13:8). The charge that he made the changes in the interest of Philippism (Melanchthonianism), seems to be unfounded.
Editions and Revisions. The printed Bible text of Luther had the same fate as the written text of the old Itala and Jerome's Vulgate. 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, 1568), the spurious clause of the three witnesses inserted in 1 John 5:7 (first by a Frankfurt publisher, 1574), 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 (1581). But it was disregarded outside of Saxony.
Gradually no less than eleven or twelve recensions came into use, some based on the edition of 1545, others on that of 1546. The most careful recension was that of the Canstein Bible Institute, founded by a pious nobleman, Carl Hildebrand von Canstein (1667-1719) in connection with Francke's Orphan House at Halle. It acquired the largest circulation and became the textus receptus of the German Bible.
With the immense progress of biblical learning in the present century, the desire for a timely revision of Luther's version was more and more felt. Revised versions with many improvements were prepared by Joh.- Friedrich von Meyer, a Frankfurt patrician (1772-1849), and Dr. Rudolf Stier (1800-1862), 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 1863, with a view and fair prospect of superseding all former editions in public use.
The Success. The German Bible of Luther was saluted with the greatest enthusiasm, and became the most powerful help to the Reformation. 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 1534 and 1574) 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. Some committed it to memory, and carried it about in their bosom. In a few months such people deemed themselves so learned that they were not ashamed to dispute about faith and the gospel not only with Catholic laymen, but even with priests and monks and doctors of divinity."
Roman Catholic rival German versions of the Bible
The Romanists were forced in self-defense to issue rival translations. Such were made by Emser (1527), Dietenberger (1534), and Eck (1537), and accompanied with annotations. They are more correct in a number of passages, but slavishly conformed to the Vulgate, stiff and heavy, and they frequently copy the very language of Luther, so that he could say with truth, "The Papists steal my German of which they knew little before, and they do not thank me for it, but rather use it against me." These versions have long since gone out of use even in the Roman Church, while Luther's still lives.
The Pre-Lutheran German Bible. The precise origin of the mediaeval German Bible is still unknown. Dr. Ludwig Keller of Münster first suggested in his Die Reformation und die älteren Reformparteien, Leipzig, 1885, pp. 257-260, the hypothesis that it was made by Waldenses (who had also a Romanic version); and he tried to prove it in his Die Waldenser und die deutschen Bibelübersetzungen, Leipzig, 1886 (189 pages). Dr. Hermann Haupt, of Würzburg, took the same ground in his Die deutsche Bibelübersetzung der mittelalterlichen Waldenser in dem Codex Teplensis und der ersten gedruckten Bibel nachgewiesen, Würzburg, 1885 (64 pages); and again, in self-defense against Jostes, in Der waldensische Ursprung des Codex Teplensis und der vor-lutherischen deutschen Bibeldrucke, Würzburg, 1886. On the other hand, Dr. Franz Jostes, a Roman Catholic scholar, denied the Waldensian and defended the Catholic origin of that translation, in two pamphlets: Die Waldenser und die vorlutherische Bibelübersetzung, Münster, 1885 (44 pages), and Die Tepler Bibelübersetzung. Eine zweite Kritik, Münster, 1886 (43 pages). The same author promises a complete history of German Catholic Bible versions.
The hostility of several Popes and Councils to the circulation of vernacular translations of the Bible implies the existence of such translations, and could not prevent their publication, as the numerous German editions prove. Dutch, French, and Italian versions also appeared among the earliest prints. See Stevens, Nos. 687 and 688 (p. 59 sq.). The Italian edition exhibited in 1877 at London is entitled: La Biblia en lingua Volgare (per Nicolo di Mallermi). Venetia: per Joan. Rosso Vercellese, 1487, fol. A Spanish Bible by Bonif. Ferrer was printed at Valencia, 1478 (see Reuss, Gesch. der heil. Schr. N. T., II. 207, 5th Ed.).
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. Henry Stevens says (The Bibles in the Caxton Exhibition, p. 25): "The secular history of the Holy Scriptures is the sacred history of Printing. The Bible was the first book printed, and the Bible is the last book printed. Between 1450 and 1877, 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."
A Critical Estimate of Luther's Version. Luther's version of the Bible is a wonderful monument of genius, learning, and piety, and may be regarded in a secondary sense as inspired. 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.
We must judge it from the times. 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. 13, 1522, that he had undertaken a task beyond his power, that he now understood why no one had attempted it before in his own name, and that he would not venture on the Old Testament without the aid of his friends. He felt especially how difficult it was to make Job and the Hebrew prophets speak in barbarous German. He jocosely remarked that Job would have become more impatient at the blunders of his translators than at the long speeches of his "miserable comforters."
As regards the text, it was in an unsettled condition. 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 1611 had the great advantage of the labors of three generations of translators and revisers, and is therefore more accurate, and yet equally idiomatic.
Which Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible did Luther use?
The Original Text. The basis for Luther's version of the Old Testament was the Massoretic text as published by Gerson Ben Mosheh at Brescia in 1494. He used also the Septuagint, the Vulgate of Jerome (although he disliked him exceedingly on account of his monkery), the Latin translations of the Dominican Sanctes Pagnini of Lucca (1527), and of the Franciscan Sebastian Münster (1534), the "Glossa ordinaria" (a favorite exegetical vade-mecum of Walafried Strabo from the ninth century), and Nicolaus Lyra (d. 1340), the chief of mediaeval commentators, who, besides the Fathers, consulted also the Jewish rabbis.
The basis for the New Testament was the second edition of Erasmus, published at Basel in Switzerland in 1519. His first edition of the Greek Testament had appeared in 1516, just one year before the Reformation. He derived the text from a few mediaeval MSS. The second edition, though much more correct than the first ("multo diligentius recognitum, emendatum," etc.), is disfigured by a large -number of typographical errors. He laid the foundation of the Textus Receptus, which was brought into its mature shape by R. Stephen, in his "royal edition" of 1550 (the basis of the English Textus Receptus), and by the Elzevirs in their editions of 1624 and 1633 (the basis of the Continental Textus Receptus), and which maintained the supremacy till Lachmann inaugurated the adoption of an older textual basis (1831).
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 5:7, which Erasmus inserted in his third edition (1522) against his better judgment.
The German Rendering. The German language was divided into as many dialects as tribes and states, and none served as a bond of literary union. Saxons and Bavarians, Hanoverians and Swabians, could scarcely understand each other. Each author wrote in the dialect of his district, Zwingli in his Schwyzerdütsch. "I have so far read no book or letter," says Luther in the preface to his version of the Pentateuch (1523), in which the German language is properly handled. 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." Scholars preferred to write in Latin, and when they attempted to use the mother tongue, as Reuchlin and Melanchthon did occasionally, they fell far below in ease and beauty of expression.
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 popularized and adapted it to theology and religion. 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.
Notable examples of Luther's renderings of Hebrew and Greek words
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 turned the Hebrew shekel into a Silberling, the Greek drachma and Roman denarius into a German Groschen, the quadrans into a Heller, the Hebrew measures into Scheffel, Malter, Tonne, Centner, and the Roman centurion into a Hauptmann. He substituted even undeutsch (!) for barbarian in 1 Cor. 14:11. Still greater liberties he allowed himself in the Apocrypha, to make them more easy and pleasant reading. He used popular alliterative phrases as Geld und Gut, Land und Leute, Rath und That, Stecken und Stab, Dornen und Disteln, matt und müde, gäng und gäbe. 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. It anticipated the golden age of German literature as represented by Klopstock, Lessing, Herder, Goethe, Schiller,—all of them Protestants, and more or less indebted to the Luther-Bible for their style. 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.
The Protestant Spirit of Luther's Version. Dr. Emser, one of the most learned opponents of the Reformation, singled out in Luther's New Testament several hundred linguistic blunders and heretical falsifications. Many of them were silently corrected in later editions. He published, by order of Duke George of Saxony, a new translation (1527) for the purpose of correcting the errors of "Luther and other heretics."
How Luther's theology may have influenced his translating
The charge that Luther adapted the translation to his theological opinions has become traditional in the Roman Church, and is repeated again and again by her controversialists and historians.
In both cases, the charge has some foundation, but no more than the counter-charge which may be brought against Roman Catholic Versions.
The most important example of dogmatic influence in Luther's version is the famous interpolation of the word alone in Rom. 3:28 (allein durch den Glauben), by which he intended to emphasize his solifidian doctrine of justification, on the plea that the German idiom required the insertion for the sake of clearness. But he thereby brought Paul into direct verbal conflict with James, who says (James 2:24), "by works a man is justified, and not only by faith" ("nicht durch den Glauben allein"). 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. "If your papist," he says, "makes much useless fuss about the word "sola," "allein," tell him at once: Doctor Martin Luther will have it so, and says: Papist and donkey are one thing; sic volo, sic jubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas. For we do not want to be pupils and followers of the Papists, but their masters and judges." Then he goes on in the style of foolish boasting against the Papists, imitating the language of St. Paul in dealing with his Judaizing opponents (2 Cor. 11:22 sqq.): "Are they doctors? so am I. Are they learned? so am I. Are they preachers? so am I. Are they theologians? so am I. Are they disputators? so am I. Are they philosophers? so am I. Are they the writers of books? so am I. 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 ...."
The Protestant and anti-Romish character of Luther's New Testament is undeniable in his prefaces, his discrimination between chief books and less important books, his change of the traditional order, and his unfavorable judgments on James, Hebrews, and Revelation. It is still more apparent in his marginal notes, especially on the Pauline Epistles, where he emphasizes throughout the difference between the law and the gospel, and the doctrine of justification by faith alone; and on the Apocalypse, where he finds the papacy in the beast from the abyss (Rev. 13), and in the Babylonian harlot (Rev. 17). The anti-papal explanation of the Apocalypse became for a long time almost traditional in Protestant commentaries.
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.
- Froude (Luther, p. 42) calls Luther's translation of the Bible "the greatest of all the gifts he was able to offer to Germany."
- Hence repeatedly published from the remaining fragmentary MSS. in Upsala (Codex Argenteus, so called from its silver binding), Wolfenbüttel and Milan, by H. C. von Gabelenz and J. Loebe (1836), Massmann (1857), Bernhardt (1875), Stamm (1878), Uppström (1854-1868, the most accurate edition), R. Müller and H. Hoeppe (1881), W. W. Skeat (1882). Comp. also Jos. Bosworth, The Gothic and Anglo-Saxon Gospels in Parallel Columns with the Versions of Wycliffe and Tyndale, London, 2d ed., 1874 (with a facsimile of the Codex Argenteus).
- See Dr. M. Rachel's Gymnasial program: Ueber die Freiberger Bibelhandschrift, nebst Beiträgen zur Gesch. der vorlutherischen Bibelübersetzung, Freiberg, 1886 (31 pages).
- This apocryphal Epistle was also included in the Albigensian (Romance) version of the 13th century, in a Bohemian version, and in the early English Bibles, in two independent translations of the 14th or 15th century, but not in Wiclif's Bible. See Forshall and Maddan, Wycliffite Versions of the Bible (1850), IV. 438 sq.; Anger, Ueber den Laodicenerbrief (Leipzig, 1843); and Lightfoot, Com. on Ep. to the Colossians (London, 1875), p. 363 sq. On the other hand, the same pseudo-Pauline Epistle appears in many MSS. and early editions of the Vulgate, and in the German versions of Eck and Dietenberger. It can therefore not be used as an argument for or against the Waldensian hypothesis of Keller.
- Ninety-seven editions of the Vulgate were printed between 1450 and 1500,—28 in Italy (nearly all in Venice), 16 in Germany, 10 in Basel, 9 in France. See Fritzsche in Herzog ii, vol. VIII. 450.
- In the royal library of Munich there are 21 MSS. of German versions of the Gospels and Epistles. The Gospels for the year were printed about 25 times before 1518; the Psalter about 13 times before 1513. See besides the works of Panzer, Kehrein, Keller, Haupt, above quoted, Alzog, Die deutschen Plenarien im 15. und zu Anfang des 16. Jahrh., Freiburg-i-B., 1874.
- Luther's use of the older German version was formerly ignored or denied, but has been proved by Professor Krafft of Bonn (1883).
- Under the title: Das Newe Testament Deutzsch. Wittemberg. 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, 1548, and in his Greek Testament of 1551). 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. 5:6: Die Liebe, die durch den Glauben thaetig ist, instead of Der Glaube, der durch die Liebe thätig ist. A copy of this rare edition, without the full-page Apocalyptic pictures, but with the error just noticed, is in the Union Seminary Library, New York. It has the famous preface with the fling at the rechte stroern Epistel ["true straw epistle"] of St. James, which was afterwards omitted or modified.
- The woodcuts were also changed. The triple papal crown of the Babylonian woman in Rev. 17 gave place to a simple crown.
- Fritzsche (l.c., p. 549): Vom N. T. sind von 1522-1533 ziemlich sicher 16 original Ausgaben nachgewiesen ... Die Nachdrucke belaufen sich auf ungefähr 54, wobei Augsburg mit 14, Strassburg mit 13, und Basel mit 12 vertreten ist.
- De Actis et Scriptis M. Lutheri ad Ann. 1522 ["Concerning the Acts and Writings of M. Luther to 1522"]. Gieseler (IV. 65 sq.) quotes the whole passage in Latin.
- The last edition of Dr. Eck's Bible appeared in 1558, at Ingolstadt, Bavaria.
- Luther's copy of the Hebrew Bible is preserved in the Royal Library at Berlin. The editio princeps of the whole Hebrew Bible appeared 1488 (Soncino: Abraham ben Chayin de' Tintori). A copy in possession of Dr. Ginsburg in England. See Stevens, l.c. p. 60. Portions had been printed before.
- A copy of the Lyons ed. of 1519, and one of the Basel ed. of 1509, now in possession of the Brandenburg Provincial Museum at Berlin. Grimm, Gesch. d. luther. Bibelübers., p. 8, note.
- Lyra acquired by his Postillae perpetuae in V. et N. Test. (first published in Rome, 1472, in 5 vols. fol., again at Venice, 1540) the title Doctor planus et utilis. His influence on Luther is expressed in the well-known lines: "Si Lyra non lyrasset, Lutherus non saltasset."
- Greek and Latin, 2 vols. folio. The first part contains Preface, Dedication to Pope Leo X., and the Ratio seu Compendium verae Theologiae per Erasmum Roterodamum (120 pages); the second part, the Greek Text, with a Latin version in parallel columns, with brief introductions to the several books (565 pages). At the end is a Latin letter of Frobenius, the publisher, dated "Nonis Fehr. Anno M.D.XIX." A copy in the Union Theol. Seminary, New York. - Some say that Luther made use of Gerbel's reprint of Erasmus, 1521. But Dr. Reuss of Strassburg, who has the largest collection and best knowledge of Greek Testaments, denies this. Gesch. der h. Schriften des N. T., 5th ed., II. 211, note.
- See Schaff, Companion to the Greek Testament, etc., New York, 3d ed., 1888, pp. 229 sqq., and the facsimile of the Erasmian ed. on p. 532 sq. Tyndale's English version was likewise made from Erasmus.
- O. von Gebhardt, in his Novum Test. Graece et Germanice, Preface, p. xvi., says of the second ed. of Erasmus: "Die Zahl der Druckfehler ist so gross, dass ein vollständiges Verzeichniss derselben Seiten füllen würde." Comp. Scrivener, Introd. to the Criticism of the N. T., 3d ed. (1883), p. 432 sq.
- It first appeared in the Frankfort edition of Luther's Bible, 1574. The revised Luther-Bible of 1883 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., Acts 12:25; Heb. 10:34; 1 John 2:23; Rev. 11:2. In this respect the German revision is far behind the Anglo-American revision of 1881, which corrects the Textus Receptus In about five thousand places.
- Formerly the Latin was the diplomatic language in Germany. Louis the Bavarian introduced the German in 1330. The founder of the diplomatic German of Saxony was Elector Ernst, the father of Elector Friedrich. See Wilibald Grimm, Gesch. der luth. Bibelübersetzung (Jena, 1884), p. 24 sqq.
- The same word silverling occurs once in the English version, Isa. 7:23, and is retained in the R. V. of 1885. The German Probebibel retains it in this and other passages, as Gen. 20:16; Judg. 9:4, etc.
- See Grimm, Luther's Uebersetzung der Apocryphen, in the "Studien und Kritiken" for 1883, pp. 376-400. 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.
- Annotationes des hochgel. und christl. doctors Hieronymi Emsers über Luthers neuw Testament, 1523. Emser charges Luther with a thousand grammatical and fourteen hundred heretical errors. He suspects (p. 14) that he had before him "ein sonderlich Wickleffisch oder Hussisch Exemplar." He does not say whether he means a copy of the Latin Vulgate or the older German version. He finds (p. 17) four errors in Luther's version of the Lord's Prayer: 1, that he turned Vater unser into Unser Vater, against the German custom for a thousand years (but in his Shorter Catechism he retained the old form, and the Lutherans adhere to it to this day); 2, that he omitted der du bist; 3, that he changed the panis supersubstantialis (überselbständig Brot!) into panis quotidianus (täglich Brot); 4, that he added the doxology, which is not in the Vulgate. In our days, one of the chief objections against the English Revision is the omission of the doxology.
- Das gantz New Testament: So durch den Hochgelerten L. Hieronymum Emser seligen verteutscht, unter des Durchlauchten Hochgebornen Fürsten und Herren Georgen Hertzogen zu Sachsen, etc., ausgegangen ist. Leipzig, 1528. The first edition appeared before Emser's death, which occurred Nov. 8, 1527. I find in the Union Seminary four octavo copies of his N. T., dated Cöln, 1528 (355 pp.), Leipzig, 1529 (416 pp.), Freiburg-i.-B. 1535 (406 pp.), Cöln, 1568 (879 pp.), and a copy of a fol. ed., Cologne, 1529 (227 pp.), all with illustrations and marginal notes against Luther. On the concluding page, it is stated that 607 errors of Luther's are noted and corrected. The Cologne ed. of 1529 indicates, on the titlepage, that Luther arbitrarily changed the text according to the Hussite copy. 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. 13.
- But he omitted allein in Gal. 2:16, where it might be just as well justified, and where the pre-Lutheran Bible reads "nur durch den Glauben." However correct in substance and as an inference, the insertion has no business in the text as a translation. See Meyer on Rom. 3:28, 5th ed., and Weiss, 6th ed. (1881), also my annotations to Lange on Romans (p. 136).
- In his Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen, in the Erl.-Frkf. ed., vol. LXV., p. 107 sqq. [In the American Edition of Luther's Works this is On Translating: An Open Letter, 35:185-186.]
- The Revisers of the Probebibel retained the interpolated allein in Rom. 8:28, the nur in 4:15, and the incorrect rendering in 3:25,26,—a striking proof of Luther's overpowering influence even over conscientious critical scholars in Germany. Dr. Grimm, the lexicographer (l.c., p. 48), unjustly censures Meyer and Stier for omitting the word allein. 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 Prefaces are collected in the 7th volume of Bindseil's edition of the Luther Bible, and in the 63d volume of the Erlangen ed. of Luther's works. The most important is his preface to the Epistle to the Romans, and his most objectionable that to the Epistle of James.