Froschauer Bibles and Testaments

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Froschauer Bibles and Testaments. This term is used for the German Bibles and Testaments published by Christoph Froschauer. They were very popular because of the clear type, pictorial decoration, and popular language. The following Froschauer Bibles are known: 1524 to 1529 fol., 1527-1529 in 16 (in these two editions the separate parts appeared at intervals), 1530 in 8, 1531 fol., 1534 in 8, 1536 fol., 1538 in 8, 1540 fol., 1542 in 8, 1545 fol., 1545 in 8, 1550 in 8, 1552 in 8, 1553 fol., 1556 fol., 1560 in 8, 1561 in 8, 1565 fol., 1570 in 8, 1571 fol., 1580 fol., 1586 fol., 1589 in 4. Froschauer New Testaments appeared as follows: 1524 in 8, 1524 fol., 1525 in 8, undated in 16 (1528?), 1533 in 16, 1534 in 16 (?), 1535 Latin and German in 8, 1542 in 16, 1557 in 8, 1565 in 8, 1570 in 8, 1574 in 8, 1581 in 4.

The Froschauer Bibles and Testaments were originally reprints of Luther's translation, altered in word order and vocabulary, more rarely in the text itself. Until 1525 they have Swiss vocalization; e.g., Romans 12:20, So wirstu fiihrige kolen vff sin houpt samlen. In 1527 the New High German diphthongs, au, ei, and eu were adopted. Since the Prophets were still lacking in Luther's translation, the Zürich preachers in 1529 issued this part of the Old Testament in a special translation, based on the translation of Ludwig Haetzer and Hans Denck, which had been published in Worms in 1527, and which the Zürich preachers considered a faithful translation from the Hebrew. Thus it came about that in 1529 a complete translation of the entire Bible was printed by Froschauer several years before Luther's complete Bible appeared. From the continual revision of this combined Bible rose the actual "Zürich Bible," whose text deviated more and more from Luther's, without, however, losing all traces of its original dependence.

Among the people, especially the Anabaptists, the first editions of the Froschauer Bibles and Testaments were greatly loved. Thus the remarkable thing happened that in the course of the centuries those old editions were several times reprinted word for word. The oldest of these reprints known to us is "Das gantz Neuw Testament grundtlich vnnd wol verteutschet . . . . Gedruckt zu Basel durch Leonhart Ostein 1588," the basis of which was the (16 mo) edition of 1533. A further edition is said to have been published in 1647, also at Basel. In 1687 it was again reprinted by Hans Jacob Werenfels in the print shop of the bookbinder Jerome Schwarz, in an edition of 1,000 in octavo. Of the next reprint by the Basel printer Johann Jacob Genath for the bookbinder Caspar Suter in Zofingen in an edition of 1,500 printed in 6 mo in 1702, only the title is known: "Das gantze neüwe Testament unseres Herren und Heylands Jesu Christi."

Very likely the undated reprint with the title, "Das gantz nüw Testament Vnsers Herrn Jesu Christi, Recht grundtlich vertütscht," was also printed in Basel, in 1729. Its basis was the Froschauer New Testament of 1525. All of these reprints were forbidden in Bernese territory as Anabaptist Testaments, and wherever found they were confiscated. Repeatedly the Bern council appealed to the Basel authorities to punish the publishers and printers of these Testaments. The following reprints bear the same antique title, including the former symbol of the printer Niklaus Brylinger (three lions with an hourglass), also found on the Basel reprints of 1588 and 1687; instead of the place of printing is found "Frankfurt und Leipzig anno 1737" (1790 and 1825). The last are known as the Täufer-Testamente, which were likewise doubtless printed in Basel. In 1744 a reprint of the entire Bible, i.e., the folio edition of 1536 was issued. The book was printed in Strasbourg "bey Simon Kürssner, Cantzley-Buchdrucker." In the foreword the reason for the reprint is stated; namely, that the edition of 1536 was in great demand for its faithful translation and had now become very rare. In 1787 the Froschauer New Testament was reprinted at Ephrata, Pa., by the Cloister Press, for the Pennsylvania Mennonites.

Two modern reprints have been done -- the 1536 edition was reprinted in 1975 by Amos Hoover of Denver, Pennsylvania and the McMillan Hutterite colony in Cayley, Alberta, primarily for use by the Hutterite Brethren. A facsimile reprint of the 1531 printing was done in 1983 by Theologischer Verlag Zürich.


Mezger, J. J. Geschichte der deutschen Bibelübersetzung in der schweizerischen reformierten Kirche. Basel, 1876.

Fluri, Adolf. Luthers Uebersetzung des Neuen Testaments und ihre Nachdrucke in Basel und Zürich 1522-1531. (Schweizerisches Evangelisches Schulblatt, 1922, Nos. 35 ff.).

Fluri, Adolf. Bern und die Froschauerbibel mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der so-genannten Täufer-Testamente. (supplement of Bernische Geschichte).1922.

Fluri, Adolf. Das Täufertestament von 1687 (supplement of Bernische Geschichte).1923.

Hege, Christian. Die Täufer in der Kurpfalz. Frankfurt, 1908.

Gasser, J. Vierhundert Jahre Zwingli-Bibel 1524-1924. Zürich, 1924.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon II: 14.

Author(s) Adolf Fluri
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Fluri, Adolf. "Froschauer Bibles and Testaments." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 18 May 2024.

APA style

Fluri, Adolf. (1953). Froschauer Bibles and Testaments. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2024, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 415-416. All rights reserved.

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