As I’ve written previously, Martin Luther began translating the Bible programmatically in 1522, with two versions of the New Testament appearing in quick succession. Another portion appeared in 1523, covering what Luther referred to as the “Five Books of Moses”. A complete Luther bible did not arrive until 1534 (or 1533 if we include the Low German bible prepared by Luther’s associate Joannes Bugenhagen which carried Luther’s endorsement).1In the meantime, Luther had already begun to revise his work, and he would continue making changes until his death in 1546.
I often frame my explanations with reference to the book of Ruth.2 In this case though, prompted by an enquiry, I’m going to illustrate some of the steps in tracing Luther’s translation (and, allied with that, his thinking) with attention to Genesis.Continue reading Luther’s bibles: a question of church?
What’s the best bible translation? I recall being asked this question a couple of years ago, following a talk on Luther’s language. I’m not sure exactly how I answered. I know I probably said to read more than one version. (There is no such thing as a perfect translation.) I may have also acknowledged that for those studying academically, the NRSV tends to be the recommended port of call. I have a suspicion I also recommended a volume Athalya Brenner put together, that presents insights into contemporary biblical scholarship through the voices of biblical women. It turns the notion of translation upside down, and sometimes we need that level of freshness.
On 14 November 2018, I travelled to Hull to speak to the local Theological Society (patron: the Archbishop of York). Having carried through quite a few speaking commitments lately, I decided in advance that for this one I would fit my topic to some other work I had in hand—namely, some pending revisions of an article about Miles Coverdale and his sources.Continue reading Coverdale and some theology
One of my last obligations with the Linguistic DNA project (though who knows what doors may open) was a short presentation on the “Public Sermons” collection as part of a workshop on Early modern preaching. This one-day conference was organised by a pair of postgraduate researchers, and brought together 30 or so scholars with a keen enthusiasm for the topic. It was a natural venue to share some of what we achieved modelling change with EEBO-TCP, and I was delighted that Tilly and Catherine (the organisers) found a space for this within a busy and collegiate programme. Continue reading Preaching to the converted?
Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the new Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition at the British Library. It wasn’t a frivolous visit; I was preparing for the discussion about religion and power that you could have heard as part of this evening’s Radio 3 Free Thinking.
Back in February, amidst striking and snow, I pondered the question “What would Luther do…?” in relation to some problematic picket lines. As things worked out, it proved possible to renegotiate the setting for the talk and I was able to meet Diarmaid MacCulloch and subsequently get his insight on some of my research. (It happened to tie in rather closely with the direction of his new Cromwell biography, so it is a pity I’d not felt bold enough to share my work sooner–but then I’m not sure it was ready.)
I don’t recall the first time I heard about Fair Trade. I have second-hand memories of dire instant coffee. Second-hand because I didn’t start drinking coffee till I was an undergraduate. By then the instant stuff had improved, though I’m committed to ground coffee these days.
It must be six months or more since I first heard that Oxford church historian Diarmaid MacCulloch was coming to Sheffield as a Prokhorov lecturer. I immediately emailed the colleague responsible to reserve a place at the masterclass. Though I doubt he recalls it, MacCulloch was approached as a possible examiner for my PhD thesis and I remain a little bit fanatical about his work on Reformations—so marvellously complex. It is therefore with real sadness that I find myself on the outside of that event.
Masterclass day is day 2 of UCU strikes. Pensions are the official issue, but there’s a wider anger afoot. Zero-hour teaching contracts, a culture of publish or perish, constant criticism from public figures who think they have an idea how we spend our summers.
All this comes as a project I’ve been curating for (coincidentally) at least 6 months felt like it was taking off. And with permission from an organising colleague, we had advertised MacCulloch’s evening lecture under that 500 Reformations umbrella. 500 Reformations had itself revealed to me an unexpected direction of collegiate interest in Luther. I found myself added into a collaborative bid to consider the great reformer’s philosophical legacy. The first event for that collaboration is also taking place on day 2 of the strikes.
As it happens I know through private networks that I’m far from the only person who queried the intention to go ahead with the scheduled events as planned. However, for some colleagues it is apparently less obvious that this kind of collaborative enterprise–whether masterclass or explorative meeting–is part of the labour our union has asked us to withdraw, part of the work the University finds valuable, part of what I’m–we’re–paid to get involved in. (Yes, I know there’s luxury in that.) I wish I were able to reconcile my priorities with such personal convenience, or that we were able to find a workable compromise—to postpone or cancel the planned events and perhaps do something informal, off-campus in their place.
Sadly, that kind of resolution looks increasingly unlikely. So I’ve ploughed my energies into a creative protest, one that harnesses a little of Luther’s language and hopefully achieves a level of provocative kindness.
Yesterday evening, I went to the village of Bradbourne, to talk about ‘what the Reformation ever did for Bradbourne’ as part of the 500 Reformations project. It was my first visit to the village, and I’d like to go back: Apart from anything else, I arrived and left in the hours of darkness and have yet to see the wall painting which provided the local jumping off point to my talk. Also, my co-speaker and I had a warm reception from an audience of 38 people and a dog. That’s about a third of Bradbourne’s population.* It was a full house.Continue reading 500 Reformations of Bradbourne