Luther’s bibles: a question of church?

I have previously written about Germanic bibles before Luther. But we might as well ask “before what Luther?”

As I’ve written previouslyMartin 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).1 In 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?

The best translation?

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.

Continue reading The best translation?

Coverdale and some theology

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

Luther & Language (video)

The past few weeks have been busy with preparations for the launch of 500 Reformations. This week, I received links to videos of two of the three public talks I gave earlier in the year. I’ve just found the necessary ten minutes to watch myself back. Ignoring the note of mild stress in the voice (I have to get through all this in 10 minutes!) I was pleased to find I could watch it through without cringing. Continue reading Luther & Language (video)

Before Luther: Germanic Bibles on the net

German(ic) bibles before Luther

Anyone who has heard me speak about Luther’s bible translation will know that he was not the first person to translate the Bible into German. Bringing together Germanic languages, including the variants found in the territories we now know as Switzerland, Austria, and the Low Countries, we might count as many as 18 different bible texts in circulation before Luther’s first complete Bible (and this is without counting variant editions of Luther’s own interim work). The following discussion highlights some significant printed bibles whose translations pre-date Luther’s first published version of the book of Ruth (published in Der Ander Teyl, 1524). Continue reading Before Luther: Germanic Bibles on the net

Early Modern Bibles on the net

As one whose university career began in the 1990s, I cannot fail to appreciate the ways in which digital resources are constantly evolving and extending. The breadth of data collated within this study would have been impossible without the many digitisation projects, and the growth of Open Access collections.

When I wrote Continue reading Early Modern Bibles on the net

Watching Luther: a prequel to three public talks

On Halloween, 1517, nearly 500 years ago, Luther posted up his debate text on the doors of the Wittenberg Castle Church. Was Luther’s text inflammatory? Composed in Latin, its direct capacity to inflame was limited to his literate peer group. Continue reading Watching Luther: a prequel to three public talks

Under the surface: SHARP, LDNA and sundry sources

When I drafted my abstract for SHARP, I recall a keen sense that my doctoral work was very closely tied to the conference theme, and that—being then in an early stage of the Linguistic DNA project—it was harder to anticipate what LDNA outputs might best speak to the 2016 theme “Languages of the Book”. As others will recognise, a 20-minute conference paper often skims over details of process in favour of content. In this post then I want to reflect on how I brought together LDNA with my own prior research. Continue reading Under the surface: SHARP, LDNA and sundry sources

Ruth as deserving stranger

A case study of translation serving ideology in Reformation Europe

Paper to be presented at the Sixteenth Century Society Conference in Bruges, 18-20 August, 2016; session 244, “The Vagaries of Translation in the Early Modern World”
(chaired by Paul Arblaster).

ABSTRACT
Did sixteenth-century bible translation and commentary contribute to debate about social issues? What differences occur between vernacular and Latin translations of the Bible, and what is their significance?

Reading the biblical book of Ruth, sixteenth-century commentators address the protagonist’s question, Continue reading Ruth as deserving stranger

In debt to sundry sources

European borrowings in 16th & 17th century English translations of ‘the Book of Books’

Paper to be delivered at the Meeting of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publication (SHARP) in Paris, 18-22 July 2016.
The conference theme is “Languages of the Book / Les Langues du Livre”.

A French translation of this abstract is appended.

ABSTRACT
Five years have elapsed since the quatercentenary of King James’ Bible, 481 since the editio princeps of the English bible, a translation assembled “out of five sundry interpreters” by Miles Coverdale. In the years between Continue reading In debt to sundry sources