LWF to mark 500th anniversary of New Testament translation

13 Apr 2022
Bible translations in various languages. Photo: LWF/A. Danielsson

Bible translations in various languages. Photo: LWF/A. Danielsson

Bible Year celebrations will share diversity of member churches’ engagement with the living Word of God

(LWI) - September 2022 marks the 500th anniversary of one of Martin Luther’s most important literary achievements: the publication of his German translation of the New Testament, popularly known as his ‘September Testament’. This publication, in the autumn of 1522, paved the way for other translations of the Bible into the vernacular, making it accessible for people both at church and in their homes.

For Luther and the other reformers, accessibility to the Bible underscored their core theological convictions: they believed that Jesus Christ is the Word of God and that scripture reveals him to us. Through preaching the gospel, all people and all generations are invited into an encounter with God’s living Word.

To celebrate this important anniversary, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) will be sharing biblical resources throughout the year, including publications, recorded and live-streamed Bible studies, social media campaigns and interviews exploring the ways in which Lutherans read and engage with the scriptures in countries around the globe today. Launched during Holy Week, this Bible Year celebration will include a special Reformation Day program of events on 31 October, featuring an online worship service and seminar with leading biblical scholars.

Deeper engagement with Holy Scripture

Hungarian Lutheran pastor, theologian and blogger, Rev. Szabolcs Nagy, is spearheading the Bible Year project. He noted that in following Luther’s example, “all Lutheran Bible reading must come from a never-ending search for Christ and his salvific work in the texts.” When we use this specific lens, he said, “we are strengthening our faith in a God who saves and liberates. This year is an opportunity for all believers to strive towards this vital source and, in doing this, to revitalize our relationship with the living God.”

The fixed text of the Holy Scriptures and the living Spirit have a reciprocal relationship
LWF General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt

LWF General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt said: “The fixed text of the Holy Scriptures and the living Spirit have a reciprocal relationship; during the Year of the Bible, we hope to share many Spirit-filled interpretations and reflections of biblical texts from around the globe. We hope that this will encourage engagement with the Holy Scriptures.”

Five centuries on from the publication of Luther’s ‘September Testament’, the Bible Year aims to celebrate the many different expressions of Lutheran identity, rooted in a common heritage of biblical interpretation. The hope is that grassroots communities in every one of the LWF’s 148 member churches may be inspired to read the Bible together and to share stories of how they have been able to translate and communicate God’s living Word within their varied geographical and cultural contexts.

LWF/P. Hitchen


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