Books of the Bible in German and English

History of German Bible translations and some well-known passages

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Essentially, every Bible is a translation. The ancient elements that became what we now call the Bible were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek on papyrus, leather, and clay. Some of the originals have been lost and exist only in copies that suffer from errors and omissions that have dismayed biblical scholars and translators. 

More modern editions, using more recent discoveries such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, try to render the Bible as accurately as possible from the ancient originals. By the end of the 20th century, the Bible had been translated into more than 1,100 different world languages and dialects. The history of biblical translation is long and fascinating, but here we'll concentrate on the German connections—of which there are many.


The earliest Germanic version of the Bible was Ulfilas' Gothic translation from Latin and Greek. From Ulfilas came much of the Germanic Christian vocabulary that is still in use today. Later Charlemagne (Karl der Große) would foster Frankish (Germanic) biblical translations in the ninth century. Over the years, prior to the appearance of the first printed German Bible in 1466, various German and German dialect translations of the scriptures were published. The Augsburger Bibel of 1350 was a complete New Testament, while the Wenzel Bible (1389) contained the Old Testament in German.

Gutenberg Bible 

Johannes Gutenberg's so-called 42-line Bible, printed in Mainz in 1455, was in Latin. About 40 copies exist today in various states of completeness. It was Gutenberg's invention of printing with movable type that made the Bible, in any language, vastly more influential and important. It was now possible to produce Bibles and other books in greater quantities at a lower cost.

First Printed Bible in German

Before Martin Luther was even born, a German-language Bible was published in 1466, using Gutenberg's invention. Known as the Mentel Bible, this Bible was a literal translation of the Latin Vulgate. Printed in Strassburg, the Mentel Bible appeared in some 18 editions until it was replaced by Luther's new translation in 1522.

Die Luther Bibel

The most influential German Bible, and the one that continues to be most widely used in the Germanic world today (it saw its last official revised edition in 1984), was translated from the original Hebrew and Greek by Martin Luther (1483-1546) in the record time of just ten weeks (New Testament) during his involuntary stay in the Wartburg Castle near Eisenach, Germany.

Luther's first complete Bible in German appeared in 1534. He continued to revise his translations up until his death. In response to Luther's Protestant Bible, the German Catholic Church published its own versions, most notably the Emser Bibel, which became the standard German Catholic Bible. Luther's German Bible also became the primary source for other northern European versions in Danish, Dutch, and Swedish.

Scriptures and Prayers in German and English

German "du" is equal to "thou" in English. Modern English versions of the Bible use "you" since "thou" has faded from English, but "du" is still used in German. Nevertheless, revised versions of Luther's 1534 Bible have updated many other language changes, using more modern usage to replace the outdated 16th century German.

Here are some oft-quoted Biblical passages in German, with English translations.

The Book of Genesis

Genesis - Lutherbibel
Kapitel Die Schöpfung

Am Anfang schuf Gott Himmel und Erde.
Und die Erde war wüst und leer, und es war finster auf der Tiefe; und der Geist Gottes schwebte auf dem Wasser.
Und Gott sprach: Es werde Licht! Und es ward Licht.
Und Gott sah, daß das Licht gut war. Da schied Gott das Licht von der Finsternis
und nannte das Licht Tag und die Finsternis Nacht. Da ward aus Abend und Morgen der erste Tag.

 Genesis - King James, Chapter One: Creation 

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

 Psalm 23 Lutherbibel: Ein Psalm Davids 

Der HERR ist mein Hirte, mir wird nichts mangeln.
Er weidet mich auf einer grünen Aue und führet mich zum frischen Wasser.
Er erquicket meine Seele. Er führet mich auf rechter Straße um seines Namens willen.
Und ob ich schon wanderte im finstern Tal, fürchte ich kein Unglück;
      denn du bist bei mir, dein Stecken und Stab trösten mich.
Du bereitest vor mir einen Tisch im Angesicht meiner Feinde. Du salbest mein Haupt mit Öl und schenkest mir voll ein.
Gutes und Barmherzigkeit werden mir folgen mein Leben lang, und ich werde bleiben
      im Hause des HERRN immerdar.

Psalm 23  King James: A Psalm of David

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
      for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest
      my head with oil: my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Gebete (Prayers)

Das Vaterunser (Paternoster) - Kirchenbuch (1908) 
Vater unser, der Du bist im Himmel. Geheiliget werde Dein Name. Dein Reich komme. Dein Wille geschehe, wie im Himmel, also auch auf Erden. Unser täglich Brot gieb uns heute. Und vergieb uns unsere Schuld, als wir vergieben unsern Schuldigern. Und führe uns nicht in Versuchung; Sondern erlöse uns von dem Übel. Denn Dein ist das Reich und die Kraft und die Herrlichkeit in Ewigkeit. Amen.

The Lord's Prayer (Paternoster) - King James 
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Das Gloria Patri - Kirchenbuch 

Ehr sei dem Vater und dem Sohn und dem Heiligen Geist, wie es war im Anfang, jetzt und immerdar und von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit. Amen.

The Gloria Patri - Book of Common Prayer 
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Da ich ein Kind war, redete ich wie ein Kind und war klug wie ein Kind und hatte kindische Anschläge. Da ich aber ein Mann ward, tat ich ab, was kindisch war. 1. Korinther 13,11

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  I Corinthians 13:11

The First Five Books of the German Bible

The first five books of the Bible in German are referred to as Mose (Moses) 1-5. They correspond to Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy in English. Many of the names of the other books are very similar or identical in German and English, but a few are not that obvious. Below you'll find all of the names of the books of the Old and New Testaments listed in the order they appear. 

Genesis : 1 Mose, Genesis

Exodus: 2 Mose, Exodus

Leviticus: 3 Mose, Levitikus

Numbers: 4 Mose, Numeri

Deuteronomy: 5 Mose, Deuternomium

Joshua: Josua

Judges: Richter

Ruth: Rut

I Samuel: 1 Samuel

II Samuel: 2 Samuel

I Kings: 1 Könige

II Kings: 2 Könige

I Chronicles: 1 Chronik

II Chronicles: 2 Chronik

Ezra: Esra

Nehemiah: Nehemia

Esther: Ester

Job: Hiob

Psalms: Der Psalter

Proverbs: Sprueche

Ecclesiastes: Prediger

Song of Solomon: Das Hohelied Salomos

Isaiah: Jesaja

Jeremiah: Jeremia

Lamentations Klagelieder

Ezekial: Hesekiel

Daniel: Daniel

Hosea: Hosea

Joel: Joel

Amos: Amos

Obadiah: Obadja

Jonah: Jona

Micah: Mica

Nahum: Nahum

Habakkuk: Habakuk

Zephaniah: Zephanja

Haggai: Haggai

Zechariah: Sacharja

Malachi: Maleachi

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Your Citation
Flippo, Hyde. "Books of the Bible in German and English." Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, Flippo, Hyde. (2021, February 8). Books of the Bible in German and English. Retrieved from Flippo, Hyde. "Books of the Bible in German and English." Learn Religions. (accessed July 24, 2021).