Bibles are almost always the earliest printed books of a linguistic region and belong to the most popular works in the early history of printing. In the library of the Francke Foundations, Bibles have been handed down to us in 100 languages. The reason for this is that both printing and the translation of the Bible was August Hermann Francke’s programmatic concern.
In 1710, with the support of Carl Hildebrand von Canstein the first Bible institute in the world was founded at Halle. In this Bibelanstalt Bibles were printed and disseminated in Czech and in Polish. Thanks to their wide-ranging communications network and international contacts, Halle Pietists have also contributed to Bible translations in numerous languages, both directly and indirectly. The most prominent example is the Tamil Bible, printed in Tranquebar, which was based on a translation provided by the missionaries Ziegenbalg and Benjamin Schultze, who had been dispatched from Halle to India. Whenever other Bible institutes were established in the course of the nineeteenth century, the Canstein Bible Institute received Bibles in exchange which were printed in numerous languages. They are now available in the Francke Foundations’ Library. The cabinet exhibition is conceived as a small contribution to the Luther Decade “Reformation and the One World”.