Worms Prophets

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Worms Prophets, a translation of the Old Testament Prophets by Ludwig Haetzer with some assistance from Hans Denck, named after the city of Worms in which the first two editions appeared. The exact title of the first edition is Alle Propheten nach Hebräischer sprach verteutscht (Worms, Peter Schoffer, 1527). A total of 12 separate editions appeared 1527-1531, as follows: (1) and (2) at Worms 13 April 1527, in octavo and folio; (3) Augsburg June 1527 in folio; (4) Worms 7 September 1527, in octavo; (5) Augs­burg 14 December 1527, in octavo; (6) Hagenau (Alsace) 12 Feb. 1528, in folio; (7) Augsburg  24 February 1528, in folio; (8) Augsburg 7 March 1528, in folio; (9) Worms 19 June 1528, in octavo; (10, 11, and 12) Augsburg 25 June 1528, 19 May 1528, and 4 November 1528, all in octavo. A part of the translation ap­peared in three editions of the complete Bible pub­lished at Strasbourg 1529/30, 1530/32, and 1535/36, although only a few copies of the last edition used the Worms translation, most using Luther's text. Two concordances cite the Worms translation - (1) Leonhard Brunner's (Worms, 1529), and (2) one published by Köpfl at Strasbourg in 1530. Denck's own commentary on Micah of 1532 also uses it.

The Worms translation of the Prophets was the first Protestant translation of this part of the Bible, and as such served a real need and was in great de­mand; particularly since it was a fairly good trans­lation directly from the Hebrew. Luther had a copy by 4 May 1527, Franz Kolb in Bern one by May 5. It was certainly on the market for the Frankfurt spring book fair in 1527. By early May the city council of Nürnberg had forbidden its sale in the city. The ultimate reaction of both Lutheran and Zwinglian leaders was negative, not because of poor literary quality or accuracy (Luther recognized its good points), but because its authors came from "the Anabaptist sect," who were guilty of certain heresies, and also because they cited some Jewish authorities in their translation. Goeters believes that both Luther and Leo Jud felt pressed to proceed with their translations because of the popularity of the Worms translation. In 1529 the Zürich transla­tion appeared (Froschauer edition). The same Worms printer (Peter Schoffer) who had printed the Haetzer-Denck Prophets adopted the Zürich translation at once for his 1529 full Bible. With the appearance of Luther's full Bible in 1532 the Worms translation was completely overshadowed and dis­appeared. According to Baring some 80 copies of the various editions have survived, largely in Euro­pean libraries, to testify to its early popularity.

Recent research, especially that of Goeters, has corrected some long-standing misconceptions about the Worms translation. (1) The prime author was Haetzer, with Denck as a useful assistant but not as a prime author. (2) The claim of Christian Hege (ML I, 408) that Luther and the Zürich translators depended heavily upon the work of Haetzer and Denck, and the claim of Ludwig Keller that the two other translations are based on the Worms transla­tion, are much exaggerated, although both profited from it. Goeters’ judgment is sound: "Next to the Bible text itself, the Worms Prophets were the most important literary material for the Lutheran and Zurich translations." (3) There is evidence that the Worms translation of Habakkuk is dependent upon Luther's 1526 translation of the same book.

In the light of Goeters' demonstration that Haetz­er was only a fringe figure in the Anabaptist move­ment, and that in Strasbourg in December 1526 he vigorously repudiated Anabaptist views and connec­tions just when he was beginning the translation, the "Anabaptist" character of the Worms translation might need to be questioned. On the other hand, Denck was clearly an Anabaptist at this time, and Haetzer was definitely under his influence during their joint work on the translation while they were together in Worms February-July 1527, after which their paths separated, never to cross again.


Baring, G. Hans Dench Schriften I. Teil: Bibliographic. Gütersloh, 1955.

Baring, G. "Die Wormser Propheten." Beilage zum dritten Bericht des deutschen Bibelarchivs. Hamburg, 1933;  and in Archiv fur Reformationsgeschichte XXXI (1934): 23-41

Crous, Ernst. "Zu den Bibelübersetzungen von Hatzer und Denk" in Beitrage zur Geschichte der Mennoniten.  Weierhof, 1938: 72-83.

Fellmann, W. "Fünf alte Wormser Tauferdrucke."  Mennonitische Geschichtsblätter (1937): 25-31.

Goeters,  J. F. G. Lud­wig Hatzer. Gütersloh, 1957; esp. "Die Wormser Uebersetzung der Propheten," 99-104.

Haake, G. "Studien ueber die Wormser Uebersetzung der Propheten." Mennonitische Blätter. (1898): 27-29.

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

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. IV.

Keller, Ludwig. Ein Apostel der Wiedertäufer. Leipzig, 1882: 210-14.

Roth, F. W. E.  Die Buchdruckereien zu Worms a. Rhein im XVI, Jahrhundert. Worms, 1892: 18 ff.

Roth, F. W. E.  Die Mainzer Buchdruckerfamilie Schöffer während des 16. Jahrhunderts. Leipzig, 1892: 133 ff.

Stahelin, E. Das theologische Lebenswerk Johannes Oekolampads. Leipzig, 1939.

Teufel, E. Theologische Rundschau XV (1943): 58-62.

Later Bibliography

Beck, James S. "The Anabaptists and the Jews: the example of Hätzer, Denck and the 'Worms Prophets.'" M.A. Thesis, University of St. Michael's College, 2000.

Huldreich Zwinglis hebräische Bibel Zwingliana 32 (2005): 39-44.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Worms Prophets." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 27 Sep 2023. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Worms_Prophets&oldid=163659.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1959). Worms Prophets. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 September 2023, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Worms_Prophets&oldid=163659.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 983-984. All rights reserved.

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