Posts Tagged ‘Martin Luther’

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)

Saturday, February 18th, 2017 by Alfred

On February 18th we commemorate the death of priest, theologian, and Bible translator Martin Luther (b. November 10, 1483 – d. February 18, 1546).

Luther is most famous for nailing his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg – 500 years ago this year – which many people cite as the primary starting point of the Reformation.

Yet Luther’s later work translating the Bible was also fundamental to the Reformation.

Luther loved the Bible but knew that, at the time, the Bible was not accessible to everyone. So he concluded that a new translation, in the common language of the German people was necessary.

His focus as he worked on the translation was to enable the ‘tailors and shoemakers, yea, even women and ignorant persons’ to be able to read God’s word for themselves. Indeed, he was so committed to the ordinariness of the language in the translation, he would take trips into local towns and villages to listen to the way people spoke.

Luther’s translation marked a shift in the church’s approach to the Bible, as Philip Schaff notes:

“The Bible ceased to be a foreign book in a foreign tongue, and became 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.”

It spurred on Bible translation in Europe, especially in French, Dutch and English.

Yet now over 1.5 billion people – more than the entire world population when Luther was alive – still do not have the Bible in the language they speak and understand best. Wycliffe Bible Translators is working so that all peoples around the world can engage with the Bible in the language they most understand.

Find out how you can be part of Bible translation.

Luther’s historic hammer of 1517

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 by Ruth

Martin Luther – priest, theologian and Bible translator (b. November 10, 1483 – d. February 18, 1546).  Or you could bill him thus: Martin Luther – notorious polemic, heretic, leader of revolt.  It all depends on your perspective.

Today we remember the historic act of confrontation that occurred on 31 October in 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention into the church door at Wittenberg. Many people cite this act as the primary starting point of the Protestant Reformation… though a number of others before him had put their lives on the line in order that the everyday pew-filler might have access to God’s word in the language they understood best.

Martin Luther went on to be the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people; a translation more appealing than previous German Biblical translations. His translation of the Bible also helped to develop a standard version of the German language and added several principles to the art of translation.

Bible translators worldwide continue to make God’s word accessible to those who do not have it in their mother tongue.  Today over 350 million people are still waiting for any Scripture in their own language. There’s still more to do, and you can join in with what God has been doing for hundreds of years – making himself known through the words of the Bible. Here’s how.

Happy birthday Martin Luther

Thursday, November 10th, 2011 by Hannah

Today is Martin Luther’s 528th birthday. Even though he’s not around to celebrate it, it is difficult to escape the impact of his life.

Take this example: a couple of weeks ago was Reformation Day. It marks the anniversary of the day Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the front of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, an event which sparked the Reformation in Europe. Even centuries later people celebrate it, some with surprising activities like ‘Pin the theses on the church door’ and Reformation Day masks (right).

As well as sparking  new attitudes about the church, Luther  prompted new thinking about the Bible, by translating the Bible into every-day German:

His focus in his translation was not to make the Bible accessible to the scholars and theologians; rather, he wanted the ‘tailors and shoemakers, yea, even women and ignorant persons’ to be able to read God’s word. Read more from this earlier post.

There are still millions around the world who have yet to experience the impact of this new thinking. While his translation prompted Bible translations in English, French and Dutch, it has yet to touch the 2,000 languages that are still without a single verse of Scripture.

Help them to access God’s word.

*Mask image from The Resurgence.

Jan Hus: 1369 – 6 July 1415

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 by Hannah

Today, nearly 600 years after his martyrdom, we commemorate the life of Jan Hus, a Czech reformer of the fifteenth century. Hus was an adherent of Wycliffe’s, agreeing with him on controversial issues, including the idea that having the Bible in one’s own language is beneficial rather than heretical.

“He was challenged by church authorities regarding his views, but Hus stood firm, though declaring himself willing to recant if his errors should be proven to him from the Bible.  After his trial on 8 June 1415, several other attempts were made to induce him to recant, which he resisted.

“Finally, Hus was burned at the stake in on 6 July 1415, with Wycliffe’s manuscript Bibles and writings used as kindling for the fire. The last words of John Hus were that, ‘In 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.’ Almost exactly 100 years later, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention on to the church door at Wittenberg.” Read more from our blog.

Because Wycliffe and Hus’s call for the Bible to be translated so that people could understand it was so long ago, it’s easy to forget that not everyone has the Bible in their own language. In fact, fewer than a tenth of the world’s languages have a complete Bible translation.

Wycliffe Bible Translators are working with partners worldwide to help everyone have and read the Bible in a language they truly understand. You can be involved.

Martin Luther: 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546

Friday, February 18th, 2011 by Hannah

Luther’s famous 95 Theses mark, in many people’s minds, the beginning of the Reformation in Europe. But his most fundamental work for the Reformation is probably his work of 17 years later…

Luther loved the Bible, but lived at a time when even theological scholars rarely approached the Bible.  One of his fellow professors gained his doctorate in theology years before he ever owned a Bible! Luther knew that part of the problem was that the Bible was not accessible.  So he concluded that a new translation, in the common language of the German people was necessary.

But his focus in his translation was not to make the Bible accessible to the scholars and theologians; rather, he wanted the ‘tailors and shoemakers, yea, even women and ignorant persons’* to be able to read God’s word.

He dedicated his time in exile to translating the Bible into the common language of the German people for the first time.  So committed was he to the ordinariness of the language in the translation, he would take trips into local towns and villages to listen to the way people spoke.

Luther’s translation marked a shift in the church’s approach to the Bible, as Philip Schaff notes:

“The Bible ceased to be a foreign book in a foreign tongue, and became 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.”

It spured on Bible translation in Europe, especially in French, Dutch and English.

But around the world over 500 years later, over 300 million people do not have the Bible in the language they speak and understand best.  Find out how you can be part of Bible translation.

*The fact that these people could read and understand the Bible was part of the criticism (from Cochlaeus) of Luther’s translation.

Myles Coverdale: c. 1488 – 1569

Thursday, January 20th, 2011 by Hannah

Which historic Bible translation…

  • was the first complete Bible published in English?
  • was the first to be approved by the British monarchy?
  • was compiled from the work of the most important Biblical scholars of the time?
  • is probably the best known for many Anglicans because it provides the text for the Psalter in the Book of Common Prayer?
  • was the first to remove the Apocrypha from the main body of the canonical Old Testament?

With all the noise currently surrounding the 400th anniversary, you might be tempted to think King James Version.  But you’d be wrong…

In fact, the first complete printed Bible in English was the Coverdale Bible, published in 1535, which Henry VIII approved in 1539.  Myles Coverdale, not being a Greek or Hebrew scholar, based his translation on five substantial European translations, including Tyndale’s (which was drawn on again substantially for the Authorised Version) and Luther’s German Translation, as well as the Latin Vulgate.

But as well as translating the Coverdale Bible, Myles Coverdale was also involved as superintendant of the Great Bible, of which Henry VIII ordered a copy to be placed in every English church.

Today marks the 442nd anniversary of his death.  It reminds us of the immense privilege of the English speaking world, that even 442 years ago, multiple Bible translations were emerging in English.

But in over 2,000 languages, not even a single verse of the Bible has been translated.  Give the story.

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Ruth

On February 18th we commemorated the death of priest, theologian and Bible translator Martin Luther (b. November 10, 1483 – d. February 18, 1546).

Martin Luther

Around the 1400s, one of John Wycliffe’s followers, John Hus, was actively promoting Wycliffe’s ideas: that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language.  Hus was burned at the stake in 1415, with Wycliffe’s manuscript Bibles used as kindling for the fire. The last words of John Hus were that, “in 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.

Almost exactly 100 years later, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention into the church door at Wittenberg. Many people cite this act as the primary starting point of the Protestant Reformation… though to be sure, John Wycliffe, John Hus, Thomas Linacre, John Colet, and others had already put their life’s work and even their lives on the line for same cause of truth, constructing the foundation of Reform upon which Luther now built.

The prophecy of Hus had come true!  Martin Luther went on to be the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people; a translation more appealing than previous German Biblical translations.  His translation of the Bible also helped to develop a standard version of the German language and added several principles to the art of translation.

It is on the heels of men like Luther that Bible translators worldwide continue to make God’s word accessible to those who do not have it in their mother tongue.  353 million people are still waiting for any scripture in their own language.  Could you play a part in history, participating in what God has been doing for hundreds of years – making himself known through the words of the Bible?  Find out how.