Speaker: Pastor Marty Martin
II Corinthians 4:16 – 5:10
How much would you be willing to pay for a copy of the Bible? What price for just a New Testament? If you were a contemporary of Martin Luther, a working man on the lower end of the pay scale would have to give a week of his income to buy a copy of Luther’s New Testament in Germany, 1522. A whole Bible would require a month’s wages. Unless you were prepared to make considerable financial sacrifices, purchasing a book of any kind was out of the reach of all but the royals and others at the top of the financial pyramid.
There was another problem that you would face with regard to having a Bible in Luther’s day—you probably could not read a word of it once you managed to scrape together sufficient funds to have a copy in hand. In Germany overall literacy has been estimated by some to have been as low as five per cent in rural areas, which was where the majority of people lived; in the cities, up to thirty percent of the residents could read. For women, the literacy statistics are even more dismal. If your work did not require the ability to read, you would likely remain illiterate. The translation and publication of the Bible into German, French, English, and other languages motivated many to become literate so they could learn the Word of God. The Reformation not only reformed the church but also contributed to the improvement of education, because full application of sola Scriptura required literacy.