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Sparks fly in the margins

21 December 2021

Scoundrel, disrespectful, prattle; these days, you can tweet your frustrations about other people's ideas with a few vicious taps on your keyboar and send it out into the world. These frustrations were already there in the sixteenth century. The Twitter of that time: the margin of books. This can be clearly seen in a copy of the New Testament, translated into Latin by Erasmus in 1516. Martin Luther bought a fourth edition of this translation in 1527.

Luther made his frustration with Erasmus's work very clear. Sparks fly in the margins. Four times he called Erasmus a scoundreal. “You have no respect”, he wrote. And: "What use is such prattle"? Immediately afterwards, he closed the book, as revealed by the ink stains on the opposite page.

This Bible has been in the possession of the University of Groningen Library for almost three centuries. In Humanity Hits, the library presents valuable items from the Special Collections with a series of short videos.

Watch the video about the Luther Bible below.

Last modified:21 December 2021 2.10 p.m.
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