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One of the lesser-known contributions to come from Martin Luther’s efforts to challenge the Christianity of his day was the translation of the entire Bible into German from its original languages. Translating the Old Testament in this manner necessitated an adept knowledge of the ancient Hebrew language while translating the New Testament called for an equally rigorous ability to work with ancient Greek.

Luther’s was a gift beyond value to Christians in Germany who – up to this point – were forced to rely on a Latin Vulgate, a translation of Scripture that carried a number of its own problems. Desiderius Erasmus, Greek scholar, theologian and contemporary of Luther, described the benefits of translating God’s Word as it was originally given:

For we have in Latin only a few small streams and muddy puddles, while [the original texts] have pure springs and rivers flowing in gold. I see that it is utter madness even to touch with the little finger that branch of theology which deals chiefly with the divine mysteries unless one is also provided with the equipment of [the original languages].