Martin Luther’s German Bible

Reformation and Martin Luther’s German Bible


The Protestant movement of the 16th century was largely spread under the protection of the Saxon rulers. Elector Frederick the Wise established in 1502 the University at Wittenberg, where the Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, was appointed professor of philosophy in 1508. At the same time he became one of the preachers at the castle church in Wittenberg. On 31 October 1517, he enclosed in a protest letter to Albert of Brandenburg the Archbishop of Mainz, The Ninety-five Theses against the sale of indulgences and other Catholic practices, an action that marked the start of what came to be called the Reformation.


Martin Luther translated the Bible into German during the early part of the 16th century, first releasing a complete Bible in 1534. His Bible was the first major edition to have a separate section called Apocrypha. Books and portions of books not found in the Masoretic Text of Judaism were moved out of the body of the Old Testament to this section. Luther placed these books between the Old and New Testaments. For this reason, these works are sometimes known as inter-testamental books. The books 1 and 2 Esdras were omitted entirely.

Luther also expressed some doubts about the canonicity of four New Testament books, although he never called them apocrypha: the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistles of James and Jude, and the Revelation to John. He did not put them in a separately named section, but he did move them to the end of his New Testament.


The pages you are viewing are from Luther’s old German Bible that was printed in Wittenberg in 1618. It was presented to the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer by Mrs. Leonard (Sally) Lewis of 1450 Pilgrim, Birmingham, from the library of her father, attorney Leo M. Butzel.

Mr. Butzel died at age 86 on February 27, 1961, while on vacation in Florida with his family. The Bible likely was donated to Redeemer sometime after that while the Rev. Theodore Wuggazer was pastor. Leo M. Butzel was a financier and lawyer, director of many company boards and a busy volunteer.  He also was noted as a collector of fine art and notable antiques. (Information from page 1 of the Detroit Free Press, February 28, 1961.)


Become a part of history and purchase a page out of Martin Luther’s German Bible.  Sacred scripture that will support our Sacred Space.  There are 3 types of pages to purchase.

  1. Purchase a page of the Bible with a colorful illustrated Bible story on it.  These pages are $50 each.  Click here to view the 150+ stories that have been illustrated in Martin Luther’s Bible.  Click on any story to see if it is available.
  2. Have a favorite Bible verse?  Purchase the page with your favorite verse on it.  These pages are $40. ($.10 for every year the Bible was in existence) To request a verse, click here.  You will be notified by email if the verse is available and given instructions on how to pay and pick up your page.

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