Tyndale’s influence, the English Bible, Luther’s German Bible and colloquial speech

Quoted from The Reformation by Patrick Collinson

“Up to the mid-seventeenth century there were proportionally more Bibles printed and sold in England than anywhere else in Europe. The poetics of the seventeenth century, from John Donne to John Milton, is saturated with the richly tentacular tropes and metaphors of the Bible, while the speech of every day became peppered with scriptural phrases that rivaled Erasmus’s proverbs: ‘the burden and heat of the day,’ ‘filthy lucre,’ ‘God forbid,’ ‘the salt of the earth,’ ‘the powers that be,’ ‘eat, drink, and be merry’ —all are Tyndale’s inventions.

Luther’s German Bible was as large a landmark in the history of the German language as Tyndale’s was in English, the first work of art in German prose. Like Tyndale’s, Luther’s achievement was to pitch on a literary language that was close to colloquial speech, settling somewhere between the crudities of dialect and a language too elevated for ordinary mortals. He wrote, ‘One must ask the mother at home, the children in the street, the man at the market, and listen to how they speak, and translate accordingly.'”

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