German Bible translations

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German language translations of the Bible have existed since the Middle Ages. The most influential is Luther's translation, which established High German as the literary language throughout Germany by the middle of the seventeenth century and which still continues to be most widely used in the Germanic world today.

Contents

Pre-Lutheran German Bibles

Page from the Wenzel Bible
Page from the Wenzel Bible

There are still approximately 1,000 manuscripts or manuscript fragments of Medieval German Bible translations extant.[] The earliest known and partly still available Germanic version of the Bible was the fourth century Gothic translation of Wulfila (ca. 311-380). This version, translated primarily from the Greek, established much of the Germanic Christian vocabulary that is still in use today. Later Charlemagne promoted Frankish biblical translations in the 9th century. There were Bible translations present in manuscript form at a considerable scale already in the thirteenth and the fourteenth century (e.g. the New Testament in the Augsburger Bible of 1350 and the Old Testament in the Wenzel Bible of 1389). There is ample evidence for the general use of the entire vernacular German Bible in the fifteenth century.<[] In 1466, before Martin Luther was even born, the Mentel Bible, a High-German vernacular Bible was printed at Strassburg. This edition was based on a no-longer-existing fourteenth-century manuscript translation of the Vulgate from the area of Nurenberg. Until 1518, it was reprinted at least 13 times. In 1478-1479, two Low German Bible editions were published in Cologne, one in the Niederrheinish or West-Westfalian dialect and another in the dialect of Lower Saxony or the East-Westfalian dialect. In 1494, another Low-German Bible was published in Lübeck, and in 1522, the last pre-Lutheran Bible, the Low-German Halberstaedter Bible was published. In total, there were at least eighteen complete German Bible editions, ninety editions in the vernacular of the Gospels and the readings of the Sundays and Holy Days, and some fourteen German Psalters by the time Luther first published his own New Testament translation.[]

Luther's Bible

See Also Luther Bible

The most important and influential of translations of the Bible into German is the Luther Bible. The influence that Martin Luther's translation had on the development of the German language is often compared to the influence the King James Version had on English. The Luther Bible is currently used in a revised version from 1984. Despite the revisions, the language is still somewhat archaic and difficult for non-native speakers who want to learn the German language using a German translation of the bible.

Later translations

Moses Mendelssohn (a.k.a. Moses ben Menahem-Mendel and Moses Dessau) (1729-1786) translated part of the Torah into German, which was published in Amsterdam in 1778. The translation was honored by some Jews and Protestants, while some Jews banned it. The whole Pentateuch and Psalms was published in 1783, and was appreciated even in Christian circles. His version of the Song of Solomon was posthumously published in 1788.

Contemporary Bible translations

A modern German translation is the Catholic Einheitsübersetzung ("unified" or "unity translation"), so called because it was the first common translation used for all Catholic German-speaking dioceses. The text of the New Testament and the Psalms of the Einheitsübersetzung was agreed on by a committee of Catholic and Protestant scholars, and therefore was intended to be used by both Roman Catholics and Protestants especially for ecumenical services, while the remainder of the Old Testament follows a Catholic tradition. However, the Protestant Church of Germany refused to continue the cooperation for the current revision of the Einheitsübersetzung.

Another modern version is the Neue Evangelische Übertragung (New Evangelical Version). This translation project is an initiative of Karl-Heinz Vanheiden, who releases each of his translations of a new book of the Bible on his website in MS Word format, and welcomes corrections and suggestions for changes from the public. This particular version seeks to make the Bible understandable to non-Christians as well, and puts great emphasis on clarity of language. So far, the New Testament has been completed, and the Old Testament is being translated.[1]

Other well known German language Bible versions are: Zürcher Bibel, Elberfelder, Schlachter, Buber-Rosenzweig (OT only), Pattloch, Herder, Hoffnung für Alle (Hope for All), Die Gute Nachricht (The Good News), Gute Nachricht Bibel (Good News Bible, revision of "Gute Nachricht").

Comparison

Translation John (Johannes) 3:16
Luther Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt, daß er seinen eingeborenen Sohn gab, auf daß alle, die an ihn glauben, nicht verloren werden, sondern das ewige Leben haben.
Einheitsübersetzung Denn Gott hat die Welt so sehr geliebt, daß er seinen einzigen Sohn hingab, damit jeder, der an ihn glaubt, nicht zugrunde geht, sondern das ewige Leben hat.
Neue Evangelische Übertragung Denn so hat Gott der Welt seine Liebe gezeigt: Er gab seinen einzigen Sohn dafür, dass jeder, der an ihn glaubt, nicht zugrunde geht, sondern ewiges Leben hat.
Gute Nachricht Bibel Gott hat die Menschen so sehr geliebt, dass er seinen einzigen Sohn hergab. Nun werden alle, die sich auf den Sohn Gottes verlassen, nicht zugrunde gehen, sondern ewig leben.

Notes

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