The letter On Translating was one of the works composed during Luther’s residence at Feste Coburg. It was sent to Luther’s friend, Wenzel Link, at Nuremberg, September 12, 1530, with the request that he give it to a publisher. Link promptly furnished it with a brief foreword, dated September 15, in which he says that it has come into his hands “through a good friend.” f3 It is ostensibly an answer to two questions put to Luther by another “good friend.” Who this friend is, is not known. He was probably invented by Luther himself to furnish an excuse for discussing, in the form of a letter, subjects that were then on his mind. Under the guise of a defense of his translation of Romans 3:28, he writes on justification by faith and on the true meaning of good works, concluding the work with a brief treatment of the intercession of saints. In the course of the discussion he states and defends the methods that he had used in translating the Scriptures.
No other man in history has had a better right to speak on the subject of translating than Luther had. His German Bible is the greatest piece of translating that modern times have known. It has required more than a little courage to attempt to translate the present work into another language, out of Luther’s German. The translator can only ask that critics of his translation will credit him with an effort to apply to Luther’s writing the principles of translation that Luther here states and defends.
The text of the letter is found in Weimar Ed., 30 2 :632 ff. Erlangen Ed. 65:104 ff., St. Louis Ed., 19:968 ff.CLEMEN 4:180 ff., Berlin Ed., 7:26 ff. (With latter part omitted). The translation is from the text of Clemen. Charles M. Jacobs Mount Airy Philadelphia, Pa.