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When thinking of Germany and religion, one cannot help but think of the Reformation. This was the event that brought about the translation of Bibles into vernacular languages through the work of gifted and Godly Christians. However, another equally significant event for Christianity had taken place in the same country just decades earlier: the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg. The first Bible to be printed was the Latin Bible in 1455.
Luther and the Reformation
Although Martin Luther was not the first to dispute the heretical doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, the nailing of his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg arguably initiated the Reformation and the rise of Protestantism that followed. Luther’s convictions were the result of his having studied the Bible in Latin and thus being equipped to see, through the Holy Spirit, the errors of the Roman church. Being a Latin scholar, Luther had read and studied the Scriptures for himself, but he realised that the common people of his country could not do likewise. Therefore he had a burden to bring the Word of God to them in their own language, German.
Using Erasmus’s second edition of the Greek text, Luther translated the New Testament while in exile, and published it in 1522. The whole Bible was published in 1534. Luther revised all of the official editions published in his lifetime, so that the editions differ slightly. Further revisions of Luther’s Bible, some more comprehensive than others, continued after his death, and some editions of what today is called the Luther Bible differ significantly from his 16th century editions.
TBS BibleIn 1998 TBS published the 1912 Luther German Bible with a revised New Testament, copyright being held jointly with another organisation. We were subsequently able to obtain sole rights to the 1912/1998 Luther Bible and make a small number of corrections to improve accuracy.
The latest edition of the Society’s German Bible is now being widely distributed throughout German-speaking populations worldwide.