I am currently on sabbatical in Germany and am writing this message to you from Wittenberg, the birthplace of the reformation. This year marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther translating the New Testament into the German language. An original copy of that 1522 New Testament is on display in the museum here.
Luther loved the bible but had some worries. He said, “This German Bible (this is not praise for myself but the work praises itself) is so good and precious that it’s better than all other versions, Greek and Latin, and one can find more in it than in all commentaries, for we are removing impediments and difficulties so that other people may read in it without hindrance. I’m only concerned that there won’t be much reading in the Bible, for people are very tired of it and nobody clamors for it any more.” Today we share the same joy in reading the bible and worry about insufficient clamouring.
Luther’s translation of the Bible made it possible for German-speaking people to read the Bible for themselves. But they needed to be able to read. In a way that 1522 New Testament marks the start of Lutheran education, with its emphasis on universal literacy so that all may come to know the Gospel.
Faith and education together then and now.