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His crowning qualification was his intuitive insight and spiritual sympathy with the contents of the Bible.
A good translation, he says, requires "a truly devout, faithful, diligent, Christian, learned, experienced, and practiced heart." Luther was gradually prepared for this work.
The editions present one and the same version (or rather two versions,--one High German, the other Low German) with dialectical alterations and accommodations to the textual variations of the MSS.
of the Vulgate, which was in a very unsettled condition before the Clementine recension (1592). The spread of this version, imperfect as it was, proves the hunger and thirst of the German people for the pure word of God, and prepared the way for the Reformation. Archbishop Berthold of Mainz, otherwise a learned and enlightened prelate, issued, Jan.
The richest fruit of Luther's leisure in the Wartburg, and the most important and useful work of his whole life, is the translation of the New Testament, by which he brought the teaching and example of Christ and the Apostles to the mind and heart of the Germans in life-like reproduction. He made the Bible the people's book in church, school, and house.
If he had done nothing else, he would be one of the greatest benefactors of the German-speaking race.
It is the earliest monument of Teutonic literature, and the basis of comparative Teutonic philology.Without such aid he could hardly have finished his New Testament in the short space of three months.But this fact does not diminish his merit in the least; for his version was made from the original Hebrew and Greek, and was so far superior in every respect that the older version entirely disappeared. Luther had a rare combination of gifts for a Bible translator: familiarity with the original languages, perfect mastery over the vernacular, faith in the revealed word of God, enthusiasm for the gospel, unction of the Holy Spirit.There are more accurate versions for scholars (as those of De Wette and Weizsäcker), but none that can rival Luther's for popular authority and use.The civilization of the barbarians in the dark ages began with the introduction of Christianity, and the translation of such portions of the Scriptures as were needed in public worship.