Luther’s New Testament —A Quadricentennial Study -- By: L. Franklin Gruber

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 080:317 (Jan 1923)
Article: Luther’s New Testament —A Quadricentennial Study
Author: L. Franklin Gruber

Luther’s New Testament —A Quadricentennial Study

L. Franklin Gruber

There are some events in the history of the race that by preëminence stand out as landmarks of human progress. And there are certain epochs that are especially rich is such outstanding events. Of such remarkable epochs was the period of the Renaissance and the Reformation; and of conspicuous individual events of that period there was perhaps none that had more far-reaching significance than Luther’s translation of the Bible.

It is true that there had been translations of the Bible into the language of the people in more than one country before the time of Luther. Indeed, even in Germany, fourteen editions of the Bible (not different versions, as is often said) in High German had already appeared, not to speak of four in Low German, the first in 1466 and the fourteenth in 1518. But that old version had been made from the Latin Vulgate and not from the original Hebrew and Greek, while all these editions differed from one another, according to the fancies of editors and publishers, and were full of error. Moreover, they were practically inaccessible to the common people.

Its Translation And Publication

Luther had for some time been considering the matter of making a new and more accurate German translation from the original Hebrew and Greek languages, as he was more and more realizing the importance, for the great cause in which he was engaged, of having the Word become its own vindication through the medium of the language of the common people. He accordingly resolved at the opportune time to undertake the stupendous task. After championing the truth at the Diet of Worms, April

17 and 18, 1521, he was spirited away by friends, in the interests of greater safety and peace, to the Castle of the Wartburg, where his voluntary exile afforded him the necessary leisure from other duties to begin this great work. There in that historic fortress, undisturbed by foe or friend, in December of that year, he set to work upon his projected version; and within three months his first draft of the translation of the New Testament was completed. On March 6, 1522, he returned to Wittenburg, where with some assistance from Melanchthon he carefully corrected his translation and made preparations for its publication. The finished volume issued from the press after September 20, undoubtedly the 21st, the very date he had set for its appearance several weeks before. He at once sent a copy to his friend Spalatin, and on the 25th he sent one through Spalatin to his Wartburg host. It is because of its appearance in September that it has quite generally been spoken of as the “September Bible,” although the term “Bible” is hardl...

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