Ein Sendbrieff / von Dolmetschen / und Fürbitte der Heiligen. D. Mart. Luther. [With an introductory epistle by Luther’s close friend Wenceslaus Link.]. Martin Luther.
Ein Sendbrieff / von Dolmetschen / und Fürbitte der Heiligen. D. Mart. Luther. [With an introductory epistle by Luther’s close friend Wenceslaus Link.]
Ein Sendbrieff / von Dolmetschen / und Fürbitte der Heiligen. D. Mart. Luther. [With an introductory epistle by Luther’s close friend Wenceslaus Link.]

Ein Sendbrieff / von Dolmetschen / und Fürbitte der Heiligen. D. Mart. Luther. [With an introductory epistle by Luther’s close friend Wenceslaus Link.]

Wittenberg: Georg Rhau, 1530.

Price: $14,000.00

Quarto: 19 x 15 cm. [15], [1] lvs. A-D4 (complete with bank leaf D4)

FIRST WITTENBERG EDITION, FIRST ISSUE (after the 1st Nuremberg printing in the same year.)

Modern blind-ruled calf. A nice copy, woodcut border and initials heightened in red. Scattered light soiling, a few contemp. annotations, sm. paper flaw to upper margin of one leaf (not affecting the text), short worm-trail to five leaves, affecting a few letters. The elaborate woodcut border (Luther, Titeleinfassung 42; Koepplin/Falk 237), with the Luther rose and Luther’s initials is by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

This is Luther’s important “Open Letter on Interpretation” in which he explains his theory and method of translation. The essay reveals that even with his facility with the biblical languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, Luther still faced a monumental hurdle in translating the Bible, namely, how to go beyond a technically correct equivalent of the original texts and instead to render the Bible into a natural, colloquial German. By accomplishing that colossal task, Luther not only set a new standard for textual translation but also laid the foundations of a modern German vernacular.

FAITH “ALONE”

In perhaps the most famous passage in the work, Luther defends his use of the German word allein (alone, solely) in his translation of Romans 3:

“In all these phrases, this is a German usage, even though it is not the Latin or the Greek usage. It is the nature of the German language to add allain (alone, solely) in order that nicht (no) or kein (no) may be clearer and more complete. To be sure, I can say, ‘The farmer brings grain and kein (no) money,’ but the words ‘kein money’ do not sound as full and clear as if I were to say, ‘The farmer brings allein grain (only grain) and kein money (no money.)’ Here the word allein helps the word kein so much that it becomes a completely clear German expression. We do not have to ask the literal Latin how we are to speak German, as these donkeys [Luther’s catholic detractors] do. Rather we must ask the mother in the home, the children on the street, the common man in the marketplace. We must be guided by their language, by the way they speak, and do our translating accordingly. Then they will understand it and recognize that we are speaking German to them…. I shall have more to say about it in the treatise ‘On Justification’.”

The Papists Plagiarize Luther’s Translation:

Luther goes to some length in the tract to disparage the translation abilities of his Catholic critics, singling out Emser’s own “translation” of the Bible (a plagiarized edition, with revisions by Emser, of Luther’s own text). Luther’s detractors criticize his translation…. and then appropriate it! “What type of virtue is this that slanders and heaps shame on someone else's work, and then steals it, and publishes it under one's own name, thereby seeking glory and esteem through the slandered work of someone else?”.

Benzing 2841; VD16 L 5951