The scholarly movement of going ‘back to the sources’ challenged the authority of the Latin version of the Bible known as the Vulgate. Erasmus's New Testament created great interest and controversy, helping to make him the most celebrated scholar in Europe, while the revival of the study of Hebrew led in Germany to the violent pamphlet war sparked off by the work of Johannes Reuchlin. The translation of the Bible into the vernacular languages became a principal Protestant demand, but it was a formidable task, made difficult by the variety of spoken dialects. But Luther in his constantly revised translation created ‘the first true work of art in the history of German prose’. The sixteenth century also produced a marvellous series of illustrated Bibles, which were widely used despite the high cost.
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