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The Worms Prophets

A complete translation of the Old Testament (OT) appeared in Worms on 13.04.1527. It was printed in the workshop of Peter Schöffer the Younger in two formats, folio and octave and, for the third time in September, in sextodecimo. 

Title page of the Worms Prophets translation, Wikimedia Commons 
Title page of the Worms Prophets translation, Wikimedia Commons

Luther, whose translation work on the OT was not yet finished, expressed disappointment that he had been pre-empted. 

He was familiar with the translation and valued its quality, even if he was bothered that it had evidently come into being with Jewish help. And Zwingli was also familiar with it and made substantial use of it for the Zurich Bible. 

He was bothered that the translators Hans Denck and Ludwig Hätzer belonged to the Anabaptist movement. Denck was born in Heybach around 1500 and had been shaped by humanism during his studies in Ingolstad. 

In 1523, he became a school rector in Nuremberg. His critical stance on the Reformation led to expulsion in 1525. His itinerant life led him, via St Gallen, Augsburg and Strasbourg, to Worms, where he was expelled already in the same year.   


He moved on to Basel and died of the plague there in the same year. In Worms, he had met Ludwig Hätzer, who had made a name for himself with a paper against images in the church in Zwingli’s entourage. 

He was banished together with Denck and wandered through South Germany. In 1529, Hätzer was accused of bigamy in Constance and executed. The greatest accomplishment of these two was the translation of The Prophets. The Worms Prophets appeared in 12 editions by 1531 and was used in Bible editions until 1536.