Essay, Research Paper: Martin Luther And Bible Translation


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Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483. He lived on a farm where his
parents raised seven children. He began his schooling at age four and he later
entered the monastery when he was twenty-two in 1505. After entering the
monastery a good friend of Luther’s passed away. This traumatic experience
made Luther start thinking about life, death, and his destiny. Pondering these
new thoughts led Luther to focus on Christian studies. On April 4, 1507 Luther
was ordained a priest. With his new status among the church Luther was cautious
because not only did he respect the power of God he also feared it. There were
many scholars that translated the bible from Greek to the German language.
Martin Luther was the most famous of them all. Other notable attempts to
translate the bible were made by Hans Denck, Johann Dietenberger, and Ludwig
Hatzer. These scholars and writers gave their best effort to translate and
improve upon the current version. It was not until Luther’s translation that
the German church had an acceptable bible to preach by. Martin Luther believed
in “one Church, established by Christ and that he was reforming it” (Todd
99). In 1517 Luther expressed his disappointment with the Catholic Church by
publishing his Ninety-Five Theses. After the publication Luther began to receive
political pressure for his criticism of the Catholic Church. However, Luther
persevered and held strong to his beliefs. Luther was so disturbed about the
direction the Church was going that he decided to form his own religion. This
version of Catholic faith is called Lutheranism. Luther, with his new religion
saw the need for to have a book of guidelines to follow. It is about this time
that Luther began the daunting task of translating the New Testament into
German. He finished the translation from Greek to German about September 1522.
He titled it Das Neue Testament Deutzsh which eventually became know as the
September Testament. Soon, after Luther began translating the Old Testament as
well. These were printed in sections as soon as the translation was complete. He
felt it was necessary for the German people know and learn about Jesus Christ.
In 1534 Martin Luther completed his mission when the first German Bible was sent
to print. There is no other way to describe Luther’s translation except as the
best of his time. I feel reference that Bluhm gives Luther is the only one who
does him justice: Luther’s German Bible is famous book, a classic no only of
German but of world literature. Its eminence is universally recognized. Beyond
being the first as well as the foremost of the major Protestant versions of the
Bible, it is one of the two greatest translations the Christian church of the
West has produced. It was the earliest and most successful rival of the vulgate.
Catholic as well as Protestant scholars fully recognize the high artistic level
of Luther’s German Bible. It is superior to the Vulgate both in accuracy and
in literary quality (Bluhm 15). Martin Luther was very strongly committed to
translating the Bible to German in its most pure form without his own opinions
or bias conveyed with it. He tried to capture what the scripture was really
trying to say. Luther’s background in Theology helped him a great deal with
the translation of the Bible. His studies centered on “the hard intellectual
thought about Christian doctrine” (Todd 231). Of all the many translations of
the Bible that have been completed I feel that Martin Luther’s was one of the
best. He made Theology his life’s work and he continued to improve the Bible,
Lutheranism, and all his works until he passed away in February 1545. Works
Cited Bluhm, Heinz. Martin Luter: Creative Translator. St. Louis: Concordia
Publishing House, 1965 Todd, John M. Martin Luther: A Biographical Study.
Westminster: First American Printing, 1965.
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