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Saturday, July 19, 2014

(Not) Luther's German Bible 1545: How to find real Luther Bible (Genesis 4:1) (Part 1)

[2017-06-09; added notes in 2 places] 
[2017-06-02: updated section on website ]
[Note: updated 2015-10-29 -- see note in red below]
Sometimes one wants to find Luther's Bible online for reference so that one can check what Luther actually translated for a given Bible passage.  But it seems there is a great deception going on across the Internet, most of which is caused by the Reformed and erring "Lutheran" or "Protestant" theologians and teachers.  If you do a Google search for Luther's German Bible, or even Luther's German Bible 1545, you will invariably get a large selection of "Luther's German Bible" that are actually not fully authentic.  The authentic version is printed in my 1899 CPH German Bible and I consider it to be the authority.  This is also how the British and Foreign Bible Society had it printed in the same year 1899 – see here in HathiTrust copy.

Here is the usual translation you will find in most Internet sources for "Luther's German Bible", whether is indicated as "1545" or not. These are right justified for ease of text comparison:
Now here is the authentic German text of Luther's last edit of Genesis 4:1 (or 1 Mose 4:1):
Und Adam erkannte sein Weib Heva, und sie ward schwanger, und gebat den Kain, und sprach: Ich habe den Mann, den HERRn.
But what does the authentic translation of Luther mean?
I have the man, the Lord.
Oh, that sounds quite different to our English ears when we read our English translations.  So how do our English Bibles translate this verse?  Here are 2 of several – you can check your own translation if it is not one of these two:
  • KJV: I have gotten a man from the LORD
  • NIV: With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.
We see from the former examples of the more popular online sources that almost all online sources for Luther's German Bible are faulty.  An explanation will be given later but there are a few exceptions to this rule:
  1. (and here) offers a 1545 version but unfortunately only offers a very archaic spelling of the German words and so makes it much more difficult to follow or translate.
  2. offers a "modernized" spelling of what appears to be the authenitic 1545 Luther Bible.  Unfortunately they do not highlight the fact that it is more faithful to Luther's original translation, only calling it "modernized".  As far as I can tell, it seems to largely, but not exactly, match my 1899 CPH printing of Luther's Bible, the source I use for authenticity.  Let us call it the electronic "modernized spelling, not modified" Lutherbibel 1545.  This website acknowledges that the text came from another source which says it is from "German Luther Übersetzung von 1545 (moderne Rechtschreibung)"  [Translation of 1545 (modern spelling)].  This is actually a past publication by Michael Bolsinger ( at (offline since ~ 2002, but see Wayback Machine archived copy). Mr. Bolsinger did highlight the importance of his publication over more modern German translations that falsify Luther's words. — I have bookmarked the website for now as my online source for Luther's Bible. (An interesting exercise is to let Google translate the German into English and compare it to the King James Version.  I wonder if that would be the basis for a good new English Bible today?) [2017-06-03: I have compiled my own website with the same Bolsinger text for my use here.  I believe it has the same text as] — 2017-06-09: After searching through the many online scanned German Bibles, it appears to me that perhaps the best printed Lutherbibel for today may be the Concordia Publishing one in HathiTrust >>  HERE <<. This is undated edition that HathiTrust labels "1901?".  The spelling and punctuation are very similar, if not identical, to Bolsinger's digital text. 
So how do I know what the authentic Luther Bible is?  Again, it is by Luther's final translation of Genesis 4:1, and these errors of today's altered Luther Bible were publicized in the pages of Lehre und Wehre of the old (German) Missouri Synod.  The first instance I discovered was from the year 1890, volume 36, pages 293-295 in the "Vermischtes" section.  The author of this short news article was not named and so it could have been F. Pieper, George Stoeckhardt, A.F. Hoppe, etc., but I suspect it was Pieper himself.  In this 3 page article, it is reported that a new German Bible translation was underway and lists 11 scholars in Germany and other European countries actively working on it.  The article explains that it is based on the disastrous JEPD theory, and then begins to give some examples of where it differs (page 294):
In our Lutheran Bible translation we read in Genesis 4:1 that Eve, after she had given birth to Cain, said: "I have the man, the Lord."  Here Eve expresses her burning desire for the Saviour of sinners, who had been promised her by God after the Fall, in the words directed to the serpent, the Devil: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. The same shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." [Gen. 3:15]  Eve could not wait until her Saviour was born, and thought her firstborn son had been the Saviour. --. But how does the choir of the aforementioned teachers and professors of the Church translate these words of Eve?  Listen to this: "I have received a man with the help of Jehovah [or Yahweh]." Through this translation is the joyful desire of Eve for the Saviour eliminated from the Bible.
In addition to the writings from the old (German) Missouri Synod, one also can find some useful information in a book written by Johann Michael Reu of the old Iowa Synod (later ALC) in 1934 entitled Luther's German Bible; An Historical Presentation  that gave some scholarly history of Luther's translations of the Bible.  Since it is in the English language, it offers a bonus for today's English speaking world.  But more importantly, it does not gloss over some later developments where Luther made final edits to his translation of the Bible.  On page 249, Prof. Reu gives these details:
...there was a special printing of the edition of 1544-1545 with its own title page... we learn that this new edition contains two Old Testament passages (Genesis 4:1 and II Samuel 7:19) and four New Testament passages (Eph. 3:15; 3:19; 6:13; 6:15) that have been revised. In Genesis 4:1, Ich kriege den Mann des HERRN is changed into, Ich habe den Mann, den HERRN. Rörer remarks that this change was of special concern to Luther, and that for this reason he had added an explanatory gloss. The new translation is already found as an entry in Luther's copy, and the gloss in Rörer's handwriting says: Ei, Gott sei gelobt; da habe ich den HERRN, den Mann, den Samen, der dem Satan oder Schlangen den Kopf zertreten soll; der wirds tun.[i.e. "Oh, God be praised; there have I the Lord, the Man, the seed that should crush the head of Satan, the Serpent; there will it be done."]
There was even more information published in Lehre und Wehre on this subject of Luther's translation of Genesis 4:1 – it was in 1914, volume 60, by a lesser known colleague of Franz Pieper, Prof. Eduard Pardieck.  If I get the time, I will pursue it further in Part 2.

[NOTE: 2015-10-29 -- see also Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik, vol. 3, pg 251 for his use of Luther on Eve's confession; (English ed. ~ pg. 213)]
[NOTE: 2017-06-09: see also P. E. Kretzmann's third part in his series "The Story of the German Bible" in Concordia Theological Monthly, 1934, pages 441-444.  A less conservative teacher who writes on the same subject is John P. Hentz in his 1910 book History of the Lutheran Version of the Bible, pp. 133-138  —  Ludwig Fürbringer also wrote an article in the 1902 Der Lutheraner magazine (p. 180-182): "Die rechte Lutherbibel und die revidirte Lutherbibel"; 2017-06-10: 2 book reviews of the early revisions of Luther's Bible were published in 1873 in the German theological journal Zeitschrift für die gesammte lutherische Theologie und Kirche, Volume 34, pp. 316 ff. (#4 & # 5).  The first (#4, p. 316-323) was by H.O. Köhler, the second (#5, p. 323-335) by N. Ruppin and C. Räthjen.  The modern revised "Lutherbibel" was largely at the instigation of Dr. Carl Mönckeberg of Hamburg.]
= = = = = = = =   Table of Contents   = = = = = = = =
Part 1: this intro;  Online corruptions of Luther's Bible
Part 2: Pardieck's essay, pg 337 – Ich habe den Mann, den HERRn.
Part 3: pgs 337-339 – Eve confesses; corruptions of Luther from... CPH!
Part 4: pgs 340-341 – Calvin's way on Gen. 4:1; Philippi-Jewish convert
Part 5: pgs 342-343 – Lutheran shibboleth, Gen. 4:1; Rydecki & Aegidius Hunnius, UOJ again
Part 6: pgs 343-344 – Grammar of Gen. 4:1b; Keil-Delitzsch; "letters people"; Jews reject true grammar, maybe also the LC-MS?
Part 7: Pgs 345-347 – Christmas- in Genesis?; Gerhard; Kabbalism in Reuchlin, Humanism
Part 8: pgs 406-408 – Gen. 4:1- Septuagint & Vulgate?; Kretzmann's Commentary
Part 9: pgs 409-410 – World vs. Lutherans; What Eve knew?
Part 10: Pgs 411-412 – Pardieck (& Luther) over Gerhard?; Our precious Luther Bible! (Conclusion)

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