Luther’s German New Testament with Colored Woodcuts

Collection ID



Bible - Printed Book




Wittenberg, (Germany)




Printed on Paper with Gold and Pigment


7 × 5.1 × 1.96 in. (18 × 13 × 5 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on View

Luther’s first translation of the New Testament arrived in September 1522 and was accordingly called the Septembertestament. This 1524 edition was printed by Melchior Lotter in Wittenberg, Germany. Its most stunning distinction is the forty-four woodcuts made by Georg Lemberger in what is known as Fürstenkolorit. In this type of illumination, the woodcuts are colored and heightened with gold, suggesting this Bible was created for an aristocrat. Only six copies of each of the two versions of this edition are known. Moreover, sixteenth-century prints showing Fürstenkolorit are extremely rare.

Printed in 1524 by Melchior Lotter, Wittenberg, Germany. Acquired by Joh. Rothii [or, Rothü, or Lothü].[1] Acquired by 1944 by von Steinkopf, Stuttgart, Germany.[2] Acquired by 1964 by W. H. Schab, New York, New York; Purchased in 1964 by Otto Schäfer Collection (Dr.-Otto-Schäfer-Stiftung), Schweinfurt, Germany;[3][4] Acquired in 2007 by Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books AG, Stalden OW, Switzerland;[5] Purchased in 2010 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Donated in 2012 to Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

Notes: [1] A somewhat illegible inscription on the first flyleaf mentions Joh. Rothii [or, Rothü, or Lothü]. [2] A pencil inscription on the lower pastedown reads: “1944. von Steinkopf, Stuttgart. Geschenk meiner lieben Frau zu meinem 70. Geburtstage.” An email from Marion Hanke (Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books AG), in August 2019 states that Steinkopf is a long-established publishing house, bookdealer, and antiquarian in Stuttgart, Germany. [3] Email from Marion Hanke, August 2019. (Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books AG). [4] Email from Georg Drescher (Otto Schäfer Stiftung der Stadt Schweinfurt), August 2019: “The New Testament was offered to Mr. Schäfer in December 1963 via Adalbert Lauter by William Schab. In May 1964, Mr. Schäfer purchased it. Mr. Schab did not indicate a provenance in his description, but saw in the two illustrations of Peter “the Saxonian arms embroidered on his tunic.” In a marginal note, Mr. Lauter contradicted this assumption: “stimmt nicht. Kreuz kein sächsisches Wappen. Gehört zum Holzschnitt, nicht zur Miniaturit” (This is not true. The cross [has] no Saxon coat of arms. It belongs to the woodcut, not to the miniature). [5] Email from Marion Hanke (Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books AG), August 2019.

Select References:

Dr. Jörn Günther, Masterpieces, Catalogue 9 (Antiquariat: Hamburg, 2008), no. 49.

Eduard Isphording and Manfred von Arnim, Fünf Jahrhunderte Buchillustration: Meisterwerke der Buchgraphik aus der Bibliothek Otto Schäfer, Nürnberg: Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg, 1987. Exhibition catalog. Number 74.

Kathi Petersen, Uwe Müller, and Georg Drescher, Das Wort sie sollen lassen stahn. Bibeln aus Schweinfurter Bibliotheken. Schweinfurt: Stadtarchiv, 1996. Exhibition catalog. Number 12.

Georg Wolfgang Panzer, Annalen der ältern deutschen Litteratur, vol. II (Nürnberg: Johann Leonhard Sirtus Lechner, 1805), 243, no. 2122.

Hildegard Zimmermann, Beiträge zur Bibelillustration des 16. Jahrhunderts (1924; repr., Baden-Baden, 1973), 20ff, no. 17 (VD 16 B 4351).

Questions about our Collections?

Visit Contact Us Page

(866) 430-MOTB

To acquire permission to use this image, please visit our Rights and Reproduction page .

More From The Collections

Carey Bible, First Edition

Bible - Printed Book
United States

Great Bible Portion with Carved Wooden Cover

Bible - Printed Book
Likely 1569
London, (England)

Captured Civil War New Testament

Bible - Printed Book
Oxford, (England)
© Museum of the Bible 2024
Designed by PlainJoe