Again, Luther’s ‘Letter on Translating’: To Critics…

But what do I care if they rage or rave? I shall not prevent them from translating as they please. However I shall translate too, not as they please but as I please. Whoever does not like it can just leave it alone and keep his criticism to himself, for I shall neither look at nor listen to it. They do not have to answer for my translation, nor bear any responsibility for it. Listen well to this! I shall say “gracious [holdselige] Mary,” and “dear [liebe] Mary,” and let them say “Mary full of grace [volgnaden].” Whoever knows German knows very well what a fine, expressive [hertzlich] word that word liebe is: the dear Mary, the dear God, the dear emperor, the dear prince, the dear man, the dear child. I do not know whether this word liebe can be said in Latin or other languages with such fulness of sentiment, so that it pierces and rings through the heart, through all the senses, as it does in our language.*

Luther’s letter really is pungently brilliant from beginning to end. Every biblical scholar and theologian should read it. No, should have read it. His reasons for translating- encased within his vitriol- are invaluable.  And you’ll learn 5000 times more from three pages of Luther than you will from 50,000 pages of NT Wright.
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*M. Luther, Luther’s works, vol. 35: Word and Sacrament I, p. 192.

About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Lecturer in Church History and Biblical Studies at Ming Hua Theological College.
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