Friday, February 18, 2011

Lutheran Bible found in Wisconsin Church--340 year old Bible
by Peter Menkin
Missouri, USA writer Linda Hoops reports an original, 340-year old Lutheran Bible was found in a Church in Wisconsin, stumbled upon by a sixth grade teacher. She writes in the official newspaper of the Missouri Synod—Lutheran Church—“Reporter:” What she [Debra Court of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Bonduel] found was a 1,500-page copy of Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible printed in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1670.

Local and national radio and television stations told of the story, as did print publications, noting “…the Bible was brought to the attention of Rev. Timothy Shoup, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church. “Thinking it was probably from the 1800s, I let it sit in my office for months before taking a closer look,” he said.” The “Reporter” offers this quotation from the Bonduel St. Paul Lutheran Church, “Shoup says the congregation hopes to keep the Bible long enough to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2013 and possibly permanently. The church plans to create a climate-controlled display case for it.

“It would be nice to allow God’s people to enjoy this precious book for generations to come,” Shoup said. “This particular Bible is important because it marks time, how God has chosen to speak His same grace into our hearts in all times, in 2011 or in 1670, from one continent to another.”

Lyle Buettner, who works in Special Collections at Concordia Seminary Library, said he believes the Bible is one of about 40 remaining copies known to exist in the world. Buettner said the illustrations were also impressive. He told news reporters “Each time I see an illustration like this [of the Augsburg Confessions], I just think of how beautiful it looks and how much of a labor of love it must have been for the person who actually drew it.”

Reports said that church officials don’t know how they got the book and no one seems to remember how it got into the safe. Many of the church elders have been asked but nobody seems to recall ever hearing of the existence of the piece of church history. So reports Kim I Hartman in a related article elsewhere.

The Reverend Timothy Shoup, pastor, says the Bible weighs 20 pounds and that he spoke with a St. Paul Seminary library to confirm the genuiness of the Bible, valued as $1,000 to $1,500. The discovery put the town of Bonduel, some 25 miles northwest of Green Bay, Wisconsin, on the map along with the pastor, sixth grade teacher, and Missouri Synod Lutheran Church.

The “Reporter” article by the Sunset Hills, Missouri writer Hoops describes one illustration in this remarkably preserved book: The illustrations in the Bible, created through copper etchings that served as the template for the printing process, show “incredible detail,” Shoup said. The last pages of the Bible feature a two-page spread depicting the signing of the Augsburg Confession with each person in the picture identified by a number. The following page lists the numbers and identifies the corresponding person by name.

Pastor Shoup told one television station, “When I did open it up and looked at the title page I saw the roman numerals at the bottom–I kept coming up with 1670 and I concluded whatever that is I’ve got it added up wrong.” Shoup contacted Concordia Seminary Library in St. Louis, and their librarian confirmed the date as what Pastor Shoup thought.

Lyle Buettner, the library’s special collections cataloger, said only about 40 copies of Luther’s Bible are known, though it’s likely many more are undocumented. Copies of the 340-year-old Bible can be found in various libraries in Germany and the United States, including the seminary’s. Reporter Hoops goes on to describe the books physically:

The Bible is big by today’s standards — 17.5 inches long, 11.5 inches wide, 6.5 inches thick — and weighs 20 pounds. It has pigskin binding with brass corners and clasps and contains a copy of the Augsburg Confession, the principal doctrinal statement of the theology of the Lutheran reformers as presented to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Augsburg, Germany, on June 25, 1530.

When teacher Court first saw the Lutheran Bible, published in German, she thought it was just an old book and didn’t think much about it, according to FOX news. “I was looking for the old baptism records to show my students and then up here in the corner was where the Bible was tucked,” said Court.

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