Stahl, R. Martin Luther as Translator of the Bible

Stahl, R. Martin Luther as Translator of the Bible, Proslogion: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Social History and Culture 2019. Vol. 5 (1). P. 725.

Rainer Stahl, retired general secretary of Martin Luther Bund (D-91056, Germany, Erlangen, Habichtstrasse 14 A)

Language: English

The existing German translations of the Bible were in regional German dialects or in a poor German and only from the Vulgata. Therefore, Martin Luther started in the beginning of 1522 with the translation of the New Testament, which was
published in September 1522. But he and his colleagues managed the translation of the Old Testament in a long lasting process from 1522 to 1534. The basis of these translation works were original textual editions of the Bible. This translation work went further the Latin Bible to the original texts in Greek and in Hebrew. On that basis he and his colleagues searched for most appropriate und clear formulae. One example, the comment on «Magnificat» (Luke 1:28), where Luther expressed a new understanding of Mary, is discussed in the article.
Then the paper describes the distinctions between Law and Gospel, Letter and Spirit and the Two Kingdoms by God, and it looks to Romans 3:28, where Luther adds the word «allein» / «alone» which is not in the Greek text. Finally translation problems of Genesis 1:26.27 as well as of Matthew 6:13a and Luke 11:4c are dicussed and of how Martin Luther has influenced the development of the German language.

Key Words: Law and Gospel, Letter and Spirit, Two Kingdoms, Magnificat, Romans 3:28, the Lord’s Prayer


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