It is also not generally known that Luther's celebrated translation of the Bible, famous for the formative influence it had on the German language, may not have been entirely original. The Swiss Reformer, Ulrich Zwingli, is quoted as having declared to Luther:
"You are unjust in putting forth the boastful claim of dragging the Bible from beneath the dusty benches of the schools. You forget that we have gained a knowledge of the Scriptures through the translations of others. You are very well aware, with all your blustering, that previously to your time there existed a host of scholars who, in biblical knowledge and philological attainments, were incomparably your superiors." [Alzog. III, 49, quoted in Patrick F. O'Hare, The Facts about Luther (pictured right) (Rockford, IL: Thomas A. Nelson Publishers, Inc., 1987), p. 191]
I've cut and pasted the above exactly as it's found here. This blog entry appears to be the work of Phillip Blosser. Blosser used the same Zwingli quote in his chapter, "Practical Problems with Sola Scriptura" as found in the book, Not By Scripture Alone (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Co., 1998). In this article, Blosser explains how previous to the Reformation there were ample translations of the Bible in German, and this points to the fact that pre-Reformation Catholicism had a high view of Scripture. Blosser then states,
"In fact, little about Luther’s celebrated translation may have been original. The Swiss Reformer, Ulrich Zwingli, is quoted as having declared to Luther: 'You are unjust in putting forth the boastful claim of dragging the Bible from beneath the dusty benches of the schools. You forget that we have gained a knowledge of the Scriptures through the translations of others. You are very well aware, with all your blustering, that previously to your time there existed a host of scholars who, in biblical knowledge and philological attainments, were incomparably your superiors.' "I've gone into this quote before: "Little about Luther’s celebrated translation may have been original"...so says Philip Blosser. In this earlier entry I discussed Blosser's use of O'Hare, and pointed out the problems with his argumentation. Blosser's argument here is that there were German Bibles in existence previous to Luther (true enough). The Zwingli quote is presented as icing on the cake, since Zwingli, a Protestant, appears to be stating this as well. Blosser goes a step further stating, "In fact, little about Luther’s celebrated translation may have been original." You see, Luther probably just did a medieval cut-and-paste from these earlier German translations, and even Zwingli knew it. In context though, Zwingli isn't referring to these earlier German translations of the Bible.
The Internet being what it is, I was able to locate an even larger context for Zwingli's remarks.
"When you make the boast that you were the first to lug forth the Bible from under the bench, you go, methinks, too far. If we examine who by their philological acquirements made it first known, we shall find it was, some years ago, Valla, and in our own times, Erasmus, the pious Reuchlin and Pettikan. Without their assistance, neither you nor others had effected what has now been done—I mean in so far as the work may be ascribed to man. But who dare boast himself? Is it not God alone who gives the increase? Are not Paul's words here in their place, 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7: 'I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase;' and 'Not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name be the praise.' On the other hand, I shall gladly recognise your merits. Although there were not a few, my good Luther, who knew the sum and substance of true religion as well as yourself, yet none in all Israel dared to come forward to the fight, so terribly they feared that dreadful Goliath that stood opposed to them in his full panoply and power. Here, here you were the true David, anointed by the Lord for the work. Wherefore, all believing souls will never cease to sing with joy and gladness, 'Saul hath slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands. Now, as for myself, dear Luther, I have ever reverenced my teachers as fathers. If, then, out of the fulness which God has granted to you, anything had flowed to me, why should I not acknowledge it? Why, above all, if I had learned the contents of the gospel from you, should not I confess it? But I shall candidly tell you how it is. There were many distinguished men, long before the name of Martin Luther became famous, who truly recognised in what the essence of religion consisted, and who were instructed by very different teachers from those whom you suppose. For in respect of myself, I testify before God that I learned the substance and chief contents of the gospel partly by the perusal of John and the writings of Augustine, and partly by the diligent study of the Epistles of Paul in the original Greek, which, with this hand, I copied out eleven years ago, (1516,) eight of which years you have been ruling like a king." [source]Mark Edwards identifies the treatise this comes from. It's from a lengthy reply of Zwingli to Luther entitled That These Words of Christ "This is My Body Which is Given for You," Will Forever Retain Their Ancient, Single Meaning, and Martin Luther with His Latest Book has by no Means Proved or Established His Own and the Pope's View. The Biblical translating work that Zwingli referred to was more recent work, done by some who were not hook-line-and-sinker in step with Rome. He wasn't referring to all the older German translations. Zwingli was referring to "philological acquirements" that made Luther's Bible translation possible.