Germans have no less than 23 Bible versions


Central Europe


The German Bible Society published a new Luther Bible in 2017. Photo Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft

German Bible readers have one of the best choices in the world. There are no less than 23 translations in German. Only English readers can say that they have a broader choice.

The German press agency IDEA reports this. The German Bible Society has published a 2021 report on the state of the Bible that gives an overview of the different versions of God’s Word.

The general secretary of the German Bible Society, Christoph Rösel, admits that the high number of translations can bring confusion. Nevertheless, this diversity is a “fact of life in the German-speaking countries that will not change shortly.”

“Through the diversity of translations, the richness of the biblical Word is revealed”, says Rösel. He quotes the Apostle Paus (Colossians 3,16) in several translations: Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly (or: with all its richness).

Different nature

The 23 versions are of different nature. For some, the Church is responsible, as the new Luther Bible from 2017, published by the German Evangelical Church (EKD). The Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued a revision of their Bible in 2016. And the Church Council of the Canton Zürich in Switzerland published the Zürich Bible in 2007 and 2019.

Of course, there are also mixed forms of church and personal versions. An example of those are the Elberfeld translations, used mainly by the Brethern. Another example of that is the Good News Bible, which is used for religious education both in Protestant and Catholic circles.

The German Bible Society also has the Basic Bible, which the EKD recommends. The complete edition was published this year.

On top of this, older translations are rooting in the pietistic revivals from the 19th century. Not all of them are still in use.


The chairwoman of the board of the German Bible Society, the President of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia, Annette Kurschus, said that the corona pandemic had also triggered a digitalisation boost in the area of Bible distribution: “Especially for young people, access to the Bible is a digital matter.”



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