Saturday, July 02, 2011

Luther and the Bible in the Common Tongue

One of the things that was important to the Reformers (as it was to the early church) was that the Word of God be available to people in a language they could understand. This is famously seen in the translational works of Wycliffe and Tyndale, but also in the work of Luther:

Luther began his translation of the New Testament during his enforced exile at the Wartburg, and his work of translating and revising came to occupy him until the end of his life. Amazing as it seems, he apparently completed the first draft of his translation of the New Testament in some eleven weeks, using as his working tools the Greek and Latin editions of Erasmus. Not only did Luther prepare a superb translation, a version that seemed fresh and alive because, as one scholar has phrased it, "he read Holy Writ 'as though it had been written yesterday.'"[FN54] but also, in the process of translation, he helped to sculpt the German language. The development of Neuhochdeutsch, early modern high German, was underway before the appearance of Luther's Bible, due partly to the influence of Saxon Kanzeleideutsch or chancellory German. [FN55] Luther's Bible brought new high German into the parish schools and pulpits and made it the common language for the German people, even though the common folk long clung to their individual dialects. In brief, the language of Luther's Bible "became the language of the people, the langugage used in the studies of the scholars, and the language spoken in the huts of the unlearned."[FN56]
Marilyn J. Harran, Luther and learning: the Wittenberg University Luther Symposium, p. 40.

For several hundred years after the height of Middle High German literature, there was no longer any standard literary language. By far the most important influence on the development of the Modern High German standard language was Martin Luther's translation of the Bible, the first edition of which appeared in 1522 (Old Testament) and 1534 (New Testament). Luther's translation was the first to be written in a direct and uncomplicated - at times even colloquial - style that strove not only to include expressions that were modern and up-and-coming, but also to incorporate linguistic features from as many regions as possible. Its impact on literary German was immense; its core was Luther's native dialect of Thuringian.
Benjamin W. Fortson, Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, 15.78 (p. 367)

3 comments:

natamllc said...

What joy has been unleashed upon the spirits, souls and bodies of men because of men like Luther, Calvin, Turrentin and others, who receive the very "same" Light as those in Scripture when they are bringing the language of the Law and the Gospel into their common conversation of their day!

Today, I can attest, TF, you bring a common conversation into our day through this blog and the articles you publish!

Here's a bit of Joy that awaits you for what you do:

Mal 3:16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name.
Mal 3:17 "They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.
Mal 3:18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

Rususmax said...

Have they considered the necessity of circumcision before holy and lawful conubance on the wedding night?

turretinfan said...

What a bizarre idea.