Which is an authentic Bible

German Bible translations in comparison

There are large numbers of German Bibles. But not every translation is equally suitable for every purpose. This overview will help you with orientation.

German Bible translations in comparison

There are large numbers of German Bibles. But not every translation is equally suitable for every purpose. Our information on 35 German Bibles provides you with the orientation you need to choose your personal Bible. To this end, each translation is briefly characterized. The objective is a quick orientation, which is supported by the constant structure in ten headings. A certain simplification is accepted. To describe the strengths and weaknesses of the individual translations in a more differentiated manner would go beyond the scope set here.

The translations are arranged in alphabetical order by translator or the common short titles. In heading 2, the term »Biblia Hebraica« is used for the Masoretic text. Headings 6 and 7 only appear in those cases in which a translation actually contains commenting elements (such as introductions, explanations) and / or biblical references.

There are three main groups in spelling personal and place names (heading 5): Catholic tradition (older Catholic Bibles with the Latin name forms of the Vulgate), Protestant tradition (original text writing with traditional exceptions, Luther Bible up to and including revision 1912; also newer Catholic Bibles) and ecumenical regulation (according to the "Loccumer Guidelines" of 1967; fully implemented only in standard translation and Good News). Information about the name of God in this rubric refer to the tetragram YHWH in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, which is traditionally rendered as "Lord". The term »late writings« (of the OT) is used for the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical writings.

As far as possible, information about the time of possible revisions or improved editions is given in the bibliography. In the case of the major translations such as Luther, Zürcher, Einheitsüendung, Elberfelder, Gute Nachrichten, which are printed in different editions and some of which do not count for any editions, only the year of the first publication is recorded.

The translations that are currently available are briefly characterized below. It is divided into ten categories: 1st scope, 2nd basic text, 3rd linguistic style, 4th translation type, 5th spelling of names, 6th comment, 7th references, 8th particularities, 9th target group and 10th overall assessment, offers you one quick and effective orientation.


The New Testament and The Psalms, translated and briefly explained by Ludwig Albrecht. Brunnen Verlag, Gießen, Basel 15th edition 1999. First edition NT 1920, Psalmen Gotha 1927.

1. Scope: NT and Psalms.

2. Basic text: Greek NT from v. Soden, with different readings.

3. Speech style: clear and fluid; successful combination of biblical language with the language of philologists.

4. Type of translation: Philological with a communicative element; occasionally clarifying additions in brackets.

5. Name spelling: Evangelical tradition.

6. Commentary: Introductions with a conservative tendency; extensive explanations in footnotes, in the psalms also on translation problems.

7. References: Numerous references in footnotes.

8. Special features: In the Psalms, differentiated rendering of the names of God (the tetragram usually as Yahweh, short form Jah; also Elohim = God is usually not translated into German).

9. Target group: Those interested in Bible study.

10. Overall assessment: The translator has the gift of reproducing the Bible text accurately and comprehensibly without extensive paraphrasing. Together with the explanations, a solid means of understanding the Bible text.

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Basic Bible

Basic Bible. German Bible Society, Stuttgart 2021. Markus 2006, Matthäus 2006, Lukas 2007, The Four Gospels 2008, The New Testament 2010, The Psalms 2012, "BasisBibel Auslese" (40 selection texts from OT and NT) 2015 were initially published as individual editions.

1. Scope: AT without late writings, NT.

2. Basic text: From the complete edition 2021 for NT: Nestle-Aland 28th edition and, where available, Editio Critica Maior; for AT: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and, where available, Biblia Hebraica Quinta.

3. Language style: simple contemporary language, short sentences, clear text structure in lines of meaning.

4. Type of translation: elementizing with clearly structured short units of meaning; through recognizability of central terms close to the original text; primarily tailored for screen reading; calculates with the additional information available (see below)

5. Name spelling: Ecumenical regulation with exceptions

6. Commentary: Additional information that can be displayed continuously in the electronic version, either as a short so-called mouse-over text or as hyperlinks to explanations of facts and words, images and maps. The print version contains a limited selection of the word explanations on the outer edge of the page.

7. References: Within the explanations in the margin column

8. Special features: The world's first translation of the Bible that specifically takes into account the reception behavior in the new media. Only in the digital editions can all the functions of the BasisBibel be fully developed. The Bible text including extensions is available online free of charge at www.basisbibel.de. The Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany recommends the translation for ecclesiastical use in addition to the Luther Bibe, especially for work with young people and for their first encounter with the Bible.

9. Target group: adolescents and young adults; Bible readers not affiliated with the church; Beginners to Bible Reading.

10. Overall verdict: A modern Bible translation with a very elementary linguistic structure, specially designed for reading on the screen or display, whereby the possibilities offered by digital media for understanding the Bible text are fully utilized. The print version, on the other hand, contains only part of the additional information in addition to the translation text.

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The New Testament and Early Christian Scriptures. Translated and commented by Klaus Berger and Christiane Nord. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt a.M. and Leipzig 1999.

1. Scope: NT plus comparable early Christian writings (all New Testament Apocrypha and the Apostolic Fathers).

2. Basic text: Nestle-Aland, 26th edition, and scientific text editions.

3. Linguistic style: medium style, no consideration for the different styles of the original texts, occasionally literally casual.

4. Type of translation: Communicative (with a detailed explanation in the introduction).

5. Name spelling: partly traditional, partly according to Greek text.

6. Commentary: Introductions to the individual writings and explanatory footnotes to the text.

7. References: sparingly in the footnotes.

8. Special features: The writings are not printed in the usual "canonical" order, but according to the presumed date of origin; The extra-biblical texts are also arranged chronologically between the individual writings of the NT.

9. Target group: educated people who want to study the NT in historical sequence and in connection with the associated extra-biblical tradition.

10. Overall assessment: The communicative reproduction is not accurate and therefore partly misleading. The translation lacks a sense of nuances, which particularly distorts the Pauline texts. You have to be prepared for idiosyncratic and incorrect interpretations. The book can only be used as a study text with restrictions.

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Bible in righteous language

Bible in Just Language, edited by Ulrike Bail, Frank Crüsemann, Marlene Crüsemann, Erhard Domay, Jürgen Ebach, Claudia Janssen, Hanne Köhler, Helga Kuhlmann, Martin Leutzsch and Luise Schottroff. Gütersloh publishing house, Gütersloh 2006.

1. Scope: AT, late writings of the AT, NT.

2. Basic text: AT Biblia Hebraica; Late writings Göttingen Septuagint; NT Nestle-Aland, 27th edition (later additions of the "Textus receptus" in the notes section).

3. Linguistic style: Predominantly upscale contemporary German, inconsistent, with peculiarities that stem from the programmatic endeavor to create "just language", e.g. consistently inclusive formulations (also deliberately anachronistic such as "customs officers" and "priests") or new linguistic creations such as "The Holy Spirit Power" instead of "the Holy Spirit".

4. Type of translation: Philological translation, occasionally with targeted extensions (Mt 5:45: You will become daughters and sons of God, your father and your mother in heaven, who lets her sun rise over good and bad ...) or grammatical conversions Genus (Ps 2,7b: She said to me: You are mine. I gave birth to you today.).

5. Name spelling: Ecumenical regulation with the exception of the name of God (see 8.)