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Monday, February 7, 2011

An Open Letter on Translating (Kindle) by Martin Luther

A piece of history, yet still accessible

I should note that I am a lifelong Lutheran and Martin Luther is one of my personal heroes, despite his numerous and many flaws.

An Open Letter on Translating is a September, 1530 letter to Luther's critics concerning his translation of the Bible from Latin into German. This was very controversial at the time and it led to a lot of disagreement (even wars) over who should be allowed to read the Bible and who should interpret its meaning.

Luther defends his translation in his very best combative style. He correctly notes that not all turns of phrases translate literally from one language to another. He notes, along with a liberal dose of insulting names for his opponents, that he and his team of translators did a lot of research and took great care to make his translation accessible and accurate.

Martin Luther (1483-1546)
What is perhaps most amazing is that this document is amazingly readable for anyone conversant with the issues of the Reformation, even though it is nearly 500 years old. His irreverent style won over many of the common folks of his day and made him the Western world's first international bestselling authors.

The letter veers off topic towards the end and meanders into a general criticism of indulgences and entreaties to saints which is why I only give it 4 stars.

Reviewed on May 24, 2009.

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