Gothic Bible

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The Gothic Bible or Wulfila Bible is the Christian Bible as translated by Wulfila in the fourth century into the Gothic language spoken by the Eastern Germanic (Gothic) tribes.



The Wulfila bible consists of a number of manuscripts from the 6th to 8th century containing a large part of the New Testament and some parts of the Old Testament, largely written in Italy. The remaining codices are Codex Argenteus, which is kept in Uppsala, the Codex Ambrosianus A through Codex Ambrosianus E containing the epistles Skeireins, Nehemia), the Codex Carolinus (Romans), the Codex Vaticanus Latinus 5750 (Skeireins), den Codex Gissensis (fragments of the Gospel of Luke) and the Fragmenta Pannonica, Fragments of a 1 mm thick metal plate with verses of the Gospel of John.

Historic context

During the Third Century, the Goths lived on the northeast border of the Roman Empire, in what is now Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania. During the Fourth Century, the Goths were converted to Christianity, largely through the efforts of Bishop Ulfilas, who invented the Gothic alphabet and translated the Bible into the Gothic language in Nicopolis ad Istrum in today's northern Bulgaria. Portions of this translation survive, affording the main surviving text written in the Gothic language.

Gothic Christianity differed from Catholic doctrine as to the divinity of Jesus, with the Gothic Christians maintaining that Jesus was of a lesser creation than God. The Goths rejected the Holy Trinity. (see Arianism).

During the Fifth Century, the Goths overran the Western Roman Empire, including Spain, southern France, and North Africa. Gothic Christianity reigned in these areas for several centuries, before the re-establishment of the Catholic Church, and the advent of Islam.

Modern importance

The Wulfila bible, although fragmented, is the only extensive document in an ancient, Eastern Germanic language. Since the other texts are of very limited extent, except maybe Skeireins, its significance for the study of these languages can hardly be overstated.

Text of The Lord's Prayer in the Wulfilabible

atta unsar þu in himinam,
weihnai namo þein.
qimai þiudinassus þeins.
wairþai wilja þeins,
swe in himina jah ana airþai.
hlaif unsarana þana sinteinan gif uns himma daga.
jah aflet uns þatei skulans sijaima,
swaswe jah weis afletam þaim skulam unsaraim.
jah ni briggais uns in fraistubnjai,
ak lausei uns af þamma ubilin;
unte þeina ist þiudangardi jah mahts jah wulþus in aiwins.

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