I know that Martin Luther knew Latin and German, but did he know other languages? For example, did he know Greek or Hebrew (I mean those Greek and Hebrew that the Bible is written in)?

1 Answer 1


Luther did translate the bible to what is known as the Luther Bible from old Greek, old Hebrew and Aramaic sources - not the latin translations that were widely used with the catholic church in Germany.

Here are the two hints from the wikipedia article:

He used Erasmus' second edition (1519) of the Greek New Testament, known as the Textus Receptus.

[...] by 1534 he completed his translation of the old and new testaments from Hebrew and Greek into the vernacular [...]

Luther was more familiar with Hebrew Greek than with Greek Hebrew which is why his translations received help by others - especially Philipp Melanchthon.

Luther must have known at least German, Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic.

  • I think Luther was more familiar with Hebrew than Greek. See Gerhard Ebeling, "Luther. Einführung in sein Denken", 2006, p. 47: "Luther fühlte sich im Hebräischen wesentlich mehr als Fachmann als neben dem Gräzisten Melanchton im Griechischen." ("Luther felt much more in Hebrew as expert than in Greek next to Hellenist Melanchton") Commented Jan 6, 2012 at 10:21
  • @KarlvonMoor I don't have the book and cannot look into it, even though I would really like to! I read the German article for Lutherbibel where is says: [...]Luthers Sprachkompetenz war im Griechischen viel höher als im Hebräischen[...] in the section 'Der Weg zur Biblia Deutsch von 1545'. Unfortunately, the they do not state the source in the wikipedia article.
    – user1121
    Commented Jan 6, 2012 at 10:30
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    @gentmatt I'm not sure. I found on p. 376 of Nikolaus Walter, Praeparatio Evangelica, 1997, footnote 101, that cleary states, that Luther was more familiar with Hebrew and gives further references. Commented Jan 6, 2012 at 10:57
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    Ok, I'll rather trust your books than wikipedia and edit my answer :). BTW: I just saw, that you work on wikipedia articles! You could edit the article and correct the mistake.
    – user1121
    Commented Jan 6, 2012 at 11:12

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