German translations of the Bible have been around since the Middle Ages. After Gutenberg printed a Latin Bible in Germany around 1465, vernacular Bibles in German quickly followed. A Bible in High German was issued by Johannes Mentelin in Strasbourg in 1466. Low German vernacular Bibles were issued in Cologne in 1478 and 1479. In all, before Martin Luther issued his famous translation of the New Testament in 1522 (Luther’s full translation of the Bible was published in 1534), there were at least 18 editions printed of the complete Bible in German and several dozen editions of portions of the Bible, such as Gospel books and Psalters.
At Special Collections, we have recently acquired a vernacular German Bible from 1507 (the 13th known Bible edition printed before Luther’s). It was printed in Augsburg and features hand-colored woodcuts, some of which are shown here. Here are some other important German Bibles in our collections:
- a 1524 Luther New Testament printed in Zurich.
- Facsimiles of the 1534 Luther Bible and the Wenzel Bible manuscript of 1389.
- Johann Dietenberger’s 1534 Bible, which was issued as a Catholic response to Luther’s translation.
You can find all these Bibles and many more by searching the library catalog for the title phrase “Bible German.”