Search the Scriptures… (John 5,39)

Dr. Martin Luther´s preface to the Old Testament

Luther´s Works Vol.35 from Page 235 onwards translated by Charles M. Jacobs and revised by E. Theodore Bachmann.

Luther writes: “There are some who have little regard for the Old Testament. They think of it as a book that was given to the Jewish people only and is now out of date, containing only stories of past times. They think they have enough in the New Testament and assert that only a spiritual sense is to be sought in the Old Testament. Origen, Jerome, and many other distinguished people have held this view. But Christ says in John 5[:39], “Search the Scriptures, for it is they that bear witness to me.” St. Paul bids Timothy attend to the reading of the Scriptures [1 Tim. 4:13], and in Romans 1[:2] he declares that the gospel was promised by God in the Scriptures, while in 1 Corinthians 15 he says that in accordance with the Scriptures Christ came of the seed of David, died, and was raised from the dead. St. Peter, too, points us back, more than once, to the Scriptures.

They do this in order to teach us that the Scriptures of the Old Testament are not to be despised, but diligently read. For they themselves base the New Testament upon them mightily, proving it by the Old Testament and appealing to it, as St. Luke also writes in Acts 17[:11], saying that they at Thessalonica examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so that Paul was teaching. The ground and proof of the New Testament is surely not to be despised, and therefore the Old Testament is to be highly regarded. And what is the New Testament but a public preaching and proclamation of Christ, set forth through the sayings of the Old Testament and fulfilled through Christ?

In order that those who are not more familiar with it may have instruction and guidance for reading the Old Testament with profit, I have prepared this preface to the best of the ability God has given me. I beg and really caution every pious Christian not to be offended by the simplicity of the language and stories frequently encountered there, but fully realize that, however simple they may seem, these are the very words, works, judgments, and deeds of the majesty, power, and wisdom of the most high God. For these are the Scriptures which make fools of all the wise and understanding, and are open only to the small and simple, as Christ says in Matthew 11[:25]. Therefore dismiss your own opinions and feelings, and think of the Scriptures as the loftiest and noblest of holy things, as the richest of mines which can never be sufficiently explored, in order that you may find that divine wisdom which God here lays before you in such simple guise as to quench all pride. Here you will find the swaddling cloths and the manger in which Christ lies, and to which the angel points the shepherds [Luke 2:12]. Simple and lowly are these swaddling cloths, but dear is the treasure, Christ, who lies in them.

Know, then, that the Old Testament is a book of laws, which teaches what men are to do and not to do—and in addition gives examples and stories of how these laws are kept or broken—just as the New Testament is gospel or book of grace, and teaches where one is to get the power to fulfil the law. Now in the New Testament there are also given, along with the teaching about grace, many other teachings that are laws and commandments for the control of the flesh—since in this life the Spirit is not perfected and grace alone cannot rule. Similarly in the Old Testament too there are, beside the laws, certain promises and words of grace, by which the holy fathers and prophets under the law were kept, like us, in the faith of Christ. Nevertheless just as the chief teaching of the New Testament is really the proclamation of grace and peace through the forgiveness of sins in Christ, so the chief teaching of the Old Testament is really the teaching of laws, the showing up of sin, and the demanding of good. You should expect this in the Old Testament.

We come first to the books of Moses. In his first book [Genesis] Moses teaches how all creatures were created, and (as the chief cause for his writing) whence sin and death came, namely by Adam’s fall, through the devil’s wickedness. But immediately thereafter, before the coming of the law of Moses, he teaches whence help is to come for the driving out of sin and death, namely, not by the law or men’s own works (since there was no law as yet), but by “the seed of the woman,” Christ, promised to Adam and Abraham, in order that throughout the Scriptures from the beginning faith may be praised above all works and laws and merits. Genesis, therefore, is made up almost entirely of illustrations of faith and unbelief, and of the fruits that faith and unbelief bear. It is an exceedingly evangelical book.

Afterward, in the second book [Exodus], when the world was now full and sunk in blindness so that men scarcely knew any longer what sin was or where death came from, God brings Moses forward with the law and selects a special people, in order to enlighten the world again through them, and by the law to reveal sin anew. He therefore organizes this people with all kinds of laws and separates it from all other peoples. He has them build a tent, and begins a form of worship. He appoints princes and officials, and provides his people splendidly with both laws and men, to rule them both in the body before the world and in the spirit before God.

The special topic of the third book [Leviticus] is the appointment of the priesthood, with the statutes and laws according to which the priests are to act and to teach the people. There we see that a priestly office is instituted only because of sin, to disclose sin to the people and to make atonement before God, so that its entire function is to deal with sin and sinners. For this reason too no temporal wealth is given to the priests; neither are they commanded or permitted to rule men’s bodies. Rather the only work assigned to them is to care for the people who are in sin.

In the fourth book [Numbers], after the laws have been given, the princes and priests instituted, the tent and form of worship set up, and everything that pertains to the people of God made ready, then the whole thing begins to function; a test is made as to how well the arrangement operates and how satisfactory it is. This is why this very book says so much about the disobedience of the people and the plagues that came upon them. And some of the laws are explained and the number of the laws increased. Indeed this is the way it always goes; laws are quickly given, but when they are to go into effect and become operative, they meet with nothing but hindrance; nothing goes as the law demands. This book is a notable example of how vacuous it is to make people righteous with laws; rather, as St. Paul says, laws cause only sin and wrath.

In the fifth book [Deuteronomy], after the people have been punished because of their disobedience, and God has enticed them a little with grace, in order that by his kindness in giving them the two kingdoms they might be moved to keep his law gladly and willingly, then Moses repeats the whole law. He repeats the story of all that has happened to the people (except for that which concerns the priesthood) and explains anew everything that belongs either to the bodily or to the spiritual governing of a people. Thus Moses, as a perfect lawgiver, fulfilled all the duties of his office. He not only gave the law, but was there when men were to fulfil it. When things went wrong, he explained the law and re-established it. Yet this explanation in the fifth book really contains nothing else than faith toward God and love toward one’s neighbor, for all God’s laws come to that. Therefore, down to the twentieth chapter, Moses, in his explanation of the law, guards against everything that might destroy faith in God; and from there to the end of the book he guards against everything that hinders love.

It is to be observed in the first place that Moses provides so exactly for the organization of the people under laws as to leave human reason no room to choose a single work of its own or to invent its own form of worship. For Moses not only teaches fear, love, and trust toward God, but he also provides so many ways of outward worship—sacrifices, thanksgivings, fasts, mortifications, and the like—that no one needs to choose anything else. Besides he gives instructions for planting and tilling, marrying and fighting, governing children, servants, and households, buying and selling, borrowing and repaying, and for everything that is to be done both outwardly and inwardly. He goes so far that some of the prescriptions are to be regarded as foolish and useless.

Why, my friend, does God do that? In the end, because he has taken this people to be his own and has willed to be their God. For this reason he would so rule them that all their doings may surely be right in his eyes. For if anyone does anything for which God’s word has not first given warrant, it counts for nothing before God and is labor lost. For in Deuteronomy 4[:2] and 12[:32] he forbids any addition to his laws; and in 12[:8] he says that they shall not do merely whatever is right in their own eyes. The Psalter, too, and all the prophets lament that the people are simply doing good works that they themselves have chosen to do and that were not commanded by God. He cannot and will not permit those who are his to undertake anything that he has not commanded, no matter how good it may be. For obedience, which depends on God’s word, is of all works the noblest and best.

Since this life, however, cannot be without external forms of worship, God put before them all these forms and included them in his commandment in order that if they must or would do God any outward service, they might take one of these and not one they themselves had invented. They could then be doubly sure that their work was being done in obedience to God and his word. So they are prevented on every hand from following their own reason and free will in doing good and living aright. Room, place, time, person, work, and form are all more than adequately determined and prescribed, so that the people cannot complain and need not follow simply the example of alien worship.

In the second place it should be noted that the laws are. of three kinds. Some speak only of temporal things, as do our imperial laws. These are established by God chiefly because of the wicked, that they may not do worse things. Such laws are for prevention rather than for instruction, as when Moses commands that a wife be dismissed with a bill of divorce [Deut. 24:1] or that a husband can get rid of his wife with a “cereal offering of jealousy” [Num. 5:11–31] and take other wives besides. All these are temporal laws. There are some, however, that teach about the external worship of God, as has already been mentioned.

Over and above these two are the laws about faith and love. All other laws must and ought to be measured by faith and love. That is to say, the other laws are to be kept where their observance does not conflict with faith and love; but where they conflict with faith and love, they should be done away entirely. For this reason we read that David did not kill the murderer Joab [1 Kings 2:5–6], even though he had twice deserved death [2 Sam. 3:27; 20:10]. And in 2 Samuel 14[:11] David promises the woman of Tekoa that her son shall not die for having slain his brother. Nor did David kill Absalom [2 Sam. 14:21–24]. Moreover David himself ate of the holy bread of the priests, 1 Samuel 21[:6]. And Tamar thought the king might give her in marriage to her stepbrother, Amnon [2 Sam. 13:13]. From these and similar incidents one sees plainly that the kings, priests, and heads of the people often transgressed the laws boldly, at the demand of faith and love. Therefore faith and love are always to be mistresses of the law and to have all laws in their power. For since all laws aim at faith and love, none of them can be valid, or be a law, if it conflicts with faith or love.
Even to the present day, the Jews are greatly in error when they hold so strictly and stubbornly to certain laws of Moses. They would rather let love and peace be destroyed than eat and drink with us, or do things of that kind. They do not properly regard the intention of the law; but to understand this is essential for all who live under laws, not for the Jews alone. Christ also says so in Matthew 12, that one might break the sabbath if an ox had fallen into a pit, and might rescue it. Now that was only a temporal necessity and injury. How much more ought one boldly to break all kinds of laws when bodily necessity demands it, provided that nothing is done against faith and love. Christ says that David did this very thing when he ate the holy bread, Mark 3[2:25–26].

But why does Moses mix up his laws in such a disordered way? Why does he not put the temporal laws together in one group and the spiritual laws in another and the laws of faith and love in still another? Moreover he sometimes repeats a law so often and reiterates the same words so many times that it becomes tedious to read it or listen to it. The answer is that Moses writes as the situation demands, so that his book is a picture and illustration of governing and of living. For this is the way it happens in a dynamic situation: now this work has to be done and now that. No man can so arrange his life (if he is to act in a godly way) that on this day he uses only spiritual laws and on that day only temporal. Rather God governs all the laws mixed together—like the stars in the heavens and the flowers in the fields—in such a way that at every hour a man must be ready for anything, and do whatever the situation requires. In like manner the writing of Moses represents a heterogeneous mixture.

That Moses is so insistent and often repeats the same thing shows also the nature of his office. For one who is to rule a people-with-laws [Gesetzvolk] must constantly admonish, constantly drive, and knock himself out struggling with the people as [he would] with asses. For no work of law is done gladly and willingly; it is all forced and compelled. Now since Moses is a lawgiver, he has to show by his insistence that the work of the law is a forced work. He has to wear the people down, until this insistence makes them not only recognize their illness and their dislike for God’s law, but also long for grace, as we shall show.

In the third place the true intention of Moses is through the law to reveal sin and put to shame all presumption as to human ability. For this reason St. Paul, in Galatians 2[:17], calls Moses “an agent of sin,” and his office “a dispensation of death,” 2 Corinthians 3[:7]. In Romans 3[:20] and 7[:7] he says, “Through the law comes nothing more than knowledge of sin”; and in Romans 3[:20], “By works of the law no one becomes righteous before God.” For by the law Moses can do no more than tell what men ought to do and not do. However he does not provide the strength and ability for such doing and not doing, and thus lets us stick in sin. When we then stick in sin, death presses instantly upon us as vengeance and punishment for sin. For this reason St. Paul calls sin “the sting of death” [1 Cor. 15:56], because it is by sin that death has all its right and power over us. But if there were no law, there would be no sin. Therefore it is all the fault of Moses, who by the law precipitates and stirs up sin; and then upon sin death follows with a vengeance. Rightly, then, does St. Paul call the office of Moses a dispensation of sin and death [2 Cor. 3:7], for by his lawgiving he brings upon us nothing but sin and death.

Nevertheless this office of sin and death is good and very necessary. For where there is no law of God, there all human reason is so blind that it cannot recognize sin. For human reason does not know that unbelief and despair of God is sin. Indeed it knows nothing about man’s duty to believe and trust in God. Hardened in its blindness, it goes its way and never feels this sin at all. Meanwhile it does some works that would otherwise be good, and it leads an outwardly respectable life. Then it thinks it stands well and the matter has been satisfactorily handled; we see this in the heathen and the hypocrites, when their life is at its best. Besides reason does not know either that the evil inclination of the flesh, and hatred of enemies, is sin. Because it observes and feels that all men are so inclined, it holds rather that these things are natural and right, and thinks it is enough merely to guard against the outward acts. So it goes its way, regarding its illness as strength, its sin as virtue, its evil as good; and never getting anywhere.

See, then! Moses’ office is essential for driving away this blindness and hardened presumption. Now he cannot drive them away unless he reveals them and makes them known. He does this by the law, when he teaches that men ought to fear, trust, believe, and love God; and that, besides, they ought to have or bear no evil desire or hatred for any man. When human nature, then, catches on to this, it must be frightened, for it certainly finds neither trust nor faith, neither fear nor love to God, and neither love nor purity toward one’s neighbor. Human nature finds rather only unbelief, doubt, contempt, and hatred to God; and toward one’s neighbor only evil will and evil desire. But when human nature finds these things, then death is instantly before its eyes, ready to devour such a sinner and to swallow him up in hell.

See, this is what it means for sin to bring death upon us and kill us. This is what it means for the law to stir up sin and set it before our eyes, driving all our presumption into despondency and trembling and despair, so that a man can do no more than cry with the prophets, “I am rejected by God,” or, as we say in German, “The devil has me; I can never be saved.” This is to be really cast into hell. This is what St. Paul means by those short words in 1 Corinthians 15[:56], “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” It is as if he were saying, “Death stings and slays us because of the sin that is found in us, guilty of death; sin, however, is found in us and gives us so mightily to death because of the law which reveals sin to us and teaches us to recognize it, where before we did not know it and felt secure.”

Notice with what power Moses conducts and performs this office of his. For in order to put human nature to the utmost shame, he not only gives laws like the Ten Commandments that speak of natural and true sins, but he also makes sins of things that are in their nature not sins. Moses thus forces and presses sins upon them in heaps. For unbelief and evil desire are in their nature sins, and worthy of death. But to eat leavened bread at the Passover [Exodus 12–13] and to eat an unclean animal [Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14] or make a mark on the body [Lev. 19:28; Deut. 14:1], and all those things that the Levitical priesthood deals with as sin—these are not in their nature sinful and evil. Rather they became sins only because they are forbidden by the law. This law can be done away. The Ten Commandments, however, cannot be done away, for here there really is sin, even if there were no commandments, or if they were not known—just as the unbelief of the heathen is sin, even though they do not know or think that it is sin.

Therefore we see that these many laws of Moses were given not only to prevent anyone from choosing ways of his own for doing good and living aright, as was said above, but rather that sins might simply become numerous and be heaped up beyond measure. The purpose was to burden the conscience so that the hardened blindness would have to recognize itself, and feel its own inability and nothingness in the achieving of good. Such blindness must be thus compelled and forced by the law to seek something beyond the law and its own ability, namely, the grace of God promised in the Christ who was to come. Every law of God is good and right [Rom. 7:7–16], even if it only bids men to carry dung or to gather straw. Accordingly, whoever does not keep this good law—or keeps it unwillingly—cannot be righteous or good in his heart. But human nature cannot keep it otherwise than unwillingly. It must therefore, through this good law of God, recognize and feel its wickedness, and sigh and long for the aid of divine grace in Christ.

For this reason then, when Christ comes the law ceases, especially the Levitical law which, as has been said, makes sins of things that in their nature are not sins. The Ten Commandments also cease, not in the sense that they are no longer to be kept or fulfilled, but in the sense that the office of Moses in them ceases; it no longer increases sin [Rom. 5:20] by the Ten Commandments, and sin is no longer the sting of death [1 Cor. 15:56]. For through Christ sin is forgiven, God is reconciled, and man’s heart has begun to feel kindly toward the law. The office of Moses can no longer rebuke the heart and make it to be sin for not having kept the commandments and for being guilty of death, as it did prior to grace, before Christ came.

St. Paul teaches this in 2 Corinthians 3[:7–14], where he says that the splendor in the face of Moses is taken away, because of the glory in the face of Jesus Christ. That is, the office of Moses, which makes us to be sin and shame with the glare of the knowledge of our wickedness and nothingness, no longer causes us pain and no longer terrifies us with death. For we now have the glory in the face of Christ [2 Cor. 4:6]. This is the office of grace, whereby we know Christ, by whose righteousness, life, and strength we fulfil the law and overcome death and hell. Thus it was that the three apostles who saw Moses and Elijah on Mount Tabor were not afraid of them, because of the tender glory in the face of Christ [Luke 9:32]. Yet in Exodus 34[:29–35], where Christ was not present, the children of Israel could not endure the splendor and brightness in the face of Moses, so that he had to put a veil over it.

For the law has three kinds of pupils. The first are those who hear the law and despise it, and who lead an impious life without fear. To these the law does not come. They are represented by the calf worshipers in the wilderness, on whose account Moses broke the tables of the law [Exod. 32:19]. To them he did not bring the law.

The second kind are those who attempt to fulfil the law by their own power, without grace. They are represented by the people who could not look at the face of Moses when he brought the tables of the law a second time [Exod. 34:34–35]. The law comes to them but they cannot endure it. They therefore put a veil over it and lead a life of hypocrisy, doing outward works of the law. Yet the law makes it all to be sin where the veil is taken off. For the law shows that our ability counts for nothing without Christ’s grace.

The third kind of pupils are those who see Moses clearly, without a veil. These are they who understand the intention of the law and how it demands impossible things. There sin comes to power, there death is mighty, there Goliath’s spear is like a weaver’s beam and its point weighs six hundred shekels of brass, so that all the children of Israel flee before him unless the one and only David—Christ our Lord—saves us from all this [1 Sam. 17:7, 24, 32]. For if Christ’s glory did not come alongside this splendor of Moses, no one could bear the brightness of the law, the terror of sin and death. These pupils fall away from all works and presumption and learn from the law nothing else except to recognize sin and to yearn for Christ. This is the true office of Moses and the very nature of the law.

So Moses himself has told us that his office and teaching should endure until Christ, and then cease, when he says in Deuteronomy 18[:15–19], “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brethren—him shall you heed,” etc. This is the noblest saying in all of Moses, indeed the very heart of it all. The apostles appealed to it and made great use of it to strengthen the gospel and to abolish the law [Acts 3:22; 7:37]. All the prophets, as well, drew heavily upon it. For since God here promises another Moses whom they are to hear, it follows of necessity that this other one would teach something different from Moses; and Moses gives up his power and yields to him, so that men will listen to him. This [coming] prophet cannot, then, teach the law, for Moses has done that to perfection; for the law’s sake there would be no need to raise up another prophet. Therefore this word was surely spoken concerning Christ and the teaching of grace.

For this reason also, St. Paul calls the law of Moses “the old testament” [2 Cor. 3:14], and Christ does the same when he institutes “the new testament” [1 Cor. 11:25]. It is a testament because in it God promised and bequeathed to the people of Israel the land of Canaan, if they would keep it. He gave it to them too, and it was confirmed by the death and blood of sheep and goats. But since this testament did not stand upon God’s grace, but upon men’s works, it had to become obsolete and cease, and the promised land had to be lost again—because the law cannot be fulfilled by works. And another testament had to come which would not become obsolete, which would not stand upon our deeds either, but upon God’s words and works, so that it might endure for ever. Therefore it is confirmed by the death and blood of an eternal Person, and an eternal land is promised and given.

Let this be enough about the books and office of Moses. What, then, are the other books, the prophets and the histories? I answer: They are nothing else than what Moses is. For they all propagate the office of Moses; they guard against the false prophets, that they may not lead the people to works, but allow them to remain in the true office of Moses, the knowledge of the law. They hold fast to this purpose of keeping the people conscious of their own impotence through a right understanding of the law, and thus driving them to Christ, as Moses does. For this reason they also explicate further what Moses says of Christ, and furnish two kinds of examples, of those who have Moses right and of those who do not, and also of the punishments and rewards that come to both. Thus the prophets are nothing else than administrators and witnesses of Moses and his office, bringing everyone to Christ through the law.

In conclusion I ought also to indicate the spiritual meaning presented to us by the Levitical law and priesthood of Moses. But there is too much of this to write; it requires space and time and should be expounded with the living voice. For Moses is, indeed, a well of all wisdom and understanding, out of which has sprung all that the prophets knew and said. Moreover even the New Testament flows out of it and is grounded in it, as we have heard It is my duty, however, to give at least some little clue to those who have the grace and understanding to pursue the matter further.

If you would interpret well and confidently, set Christ before you, for he is the man to whom it all applies, every bit of it. Make the high priest Aaron, then, to be nobody but Christ alone, as does the Epistle to the Hebrews [5:4–5], which is sufficient, all by itself, to interpret all the figures of Moses. Likewise, as the same epistle announces [Hebrews 9–10], it is certain that Christ himself is the sacrifice—indeed even the altar [Heb. 13:10]—who sacrificed himself with his own blood. Now whereas the sacrifice performed by the Levitical high priest took away only the artificial sins, which in their nature were not sins, so our high priest, Christ, by his own sacrifice and blood, has taken away the true sin, that which in its very nature is sin. He has gone in once for all through the curtain to God to make atonement for us [Heb. 9:12]. Thus you should apply to Christ personally, and to no one else, all that is written about the high priest.

The high priest’s sons, however, who are engaged in the daily sacrifice, you should interpret to mean ourselves. Here on earth, in the body, we Christians live in the presence of our father Christ, who is sitting in heaven; we have not yet passed through to him except spiritually, by faith. Their office of slaughter and sacrifice signifies nothing else than the preaching of the gospel, by which the old man is slain and offered to God, burned and consumed by the fire of love, in the Holy Spirit. This sacrifice smells really good before God; that is, it produces a conscience that is good, pure, and secure before God. This is the interpretation that St. Paul makes in Romans 12[:1] when he teaches that we are to offer our bodies to God as a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice. This is what we do (as has been said) by the constant exercise of the gospel both in preaching and in believing.

Let this suffice for the present as a brief suggestion for seeking Christ and the gospel in the Old Testament.

Whoever reads this Bible should also know that I have been careful to write the name of God which the Jews call “Tetragrammaton” in capital letters thus, LORD [HERR], and the other name which they call Adonai only half in capital letters thus, LOrd [HErr]. For among all the names of God, these two alone are applied in the Scriptures to the real, true God; while the others are often ascribed to angels and saints. I have done this in order that readers can thereby draw the strong conclusion that Christ is true God. For Jeremiah 23[:6] calls him LORD, saying, “He will be called: ‘The LORD, our righteousness.’ ” The same thing is to be found in other passages. Herewith I commend all my readers to Christ and ask that they help me get from God the power to carry this work through to a profitable end. For I freely admit that I have undertaken too much, especially in trying to put the Old Testament into German. The Hebrew language, sad to say, has gone down so far that even the Jews know little enough about it, and their glosses and interpretations (which I have tested) are not to be relied upon. I think that if the Bible is to come up again, we Christians are the ones who must do the work, for we have the understanding of Christ without which even the knowledge of the language is nothing. Because they were without it, the translators of old, even Jerome, made mistakes in many passages. Though I cannot boast of having achieved perfection, nevertheless, I venture to say that this German Bible is clearer and more accurate at many points than the Latin. So it is true that if the printers do not, as usual, spoil it with their carelessness, the German language certainly has here a better Bible than the Latin language—and the readers will bear me out in this.

And now, of course, the mud will stick to the wheel, and there will be no one so stupid that he will not try to be my master in this work, and criticize me here and there. Let them go to it. I figured from the very beginning that I would find ten thousand to criticize my work before I found one who would accomplish one-twentieth of what I have done. I, too, would like to be very learned and give brilliant proof of what I know by criticizing St. Jerome’s Latin Bible; but he in turn could also defy me to do what he has done. Now if anyone is so much more learned than I, let him undertake to translate the whole Bible into German, and then tell me what he can do. If he does it better, why should he not be preferred to me? I thought I was well educated—and I know that by the grace of God I am more learned than all the sophists in the universities—but now I see that I cannot handle even my own native German tongue. Nor have I read, up to this time, a book or letter which contained the right kind of German. Besides no one pays any attention to speaking real German. This is especially true of the people in the chancelleries, as well as those patchwork preachers and wretched writers. They think they have the right to change the German language and to invent new words for us every day, such as behertzigen, behendigen, ersprieslich, erschieslich, and the like. Yes, my dear fellow, there are [and this is] also bethoret and ernarret.

In a word, if all of us were to work together, we would have plenty to do in bringing the Bible to light, one working with the meaning, the other with the language. For I too have not worked at this alone, but have used the services of anyone whom I could get. Therefore I ask everyone to desist from abuse and leave the poor people undisturbed, and help me, if he can. If he will not do that, let him take up the Bible himself and make a translation of his own. Those who do nothing but abuse and bite and claw are actually not honest and upright enough to really want a pure Bible, since they know that they cannot produce it. They would prefer to be Master Know-it-all in a field not their own, though in their own field they have never even been pupils.

May God bring to completion his work that he began [Phil. 1:6]. Amen.” So far Dr. Martin Luther.

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
This entry was posted in Bibel und Übersetzung, Lutheran World, Martin Luther and the Reformation, You comfort me + and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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