During the first half of the 14th century, hence 200 years before Luther, an anonymous author composed a comprehensive and commented German translation of a large part of the Bible in layman’s terms, while at the same time defending his work vehemently against attacks by the clergy. Based on the the medieval duchy of Austria, where most of the manuscripts were found, he was named the Austrian Bible Translator.
Old Testament Works, Gospel Works and Psalm Commentaries
His three major works comprise hundreds of handwritten pages on the Old Testament Works, the Gospel Works and the Psalm Commentaries. In addition, his œuvre also includes treatises against heretics as well as Jews and other, less substantial writings. Continual new finds substantiate, correct and expand the text corpus attributed to the Austrian Bible Translator.
To make the the Anonymous’ writings available through critical edition and commentary has been a general research desideratum by German philologists for quite some time. In the Middle Ages, the extensive texts had been intensively received and been passed on in numerous copies and different versions, as subsequent adaptions and also excerpts. Their editorial representation presents a particular challenge to science, one that can be met by a group of editors only. It is the project’s objective to edit and comment on the Austrian Bible Translator’s works, conferring equal importance to both digital and printed versions alike.
Digital Humanities: Using and Advancing new Opportunities
The digital version not only provides the opportunity to make the edited text accessible for experts and public, it also allows insights in individual steps along the way, like transcriptions and version comparisons as well as digitised presentations of individual manuscripts and fragments. This way, the complex conditions under which the individual texts were handed down as well as art-historically relevant data can be presented, contributing to Digital Humanities from an editorially focussed, Germanistic-mediavistic perspective.
Interdisciplinary Research Approach
The commented critical hybrid edition lays the foundations for a scientific approach to the Austrian Bible Translator’s complete works for different disciplines and fields of study, among them theologians, historians and art historians. Conferences on a regular basis will supply a scientific exchange and bring the project to the attention of a larger public audience. They will present the Austrian Bible Translator’s œuvre in context with other vernacular Bible translations of that time, thereby pointing out common features as well as distinctions as regards Luther’s translation of the Bible.