“No book,” says The Cambridge Modern History, “was more frequently republished than the Latin Vulgate, of which 98 distinct and full editions appeared prior to 1500….From 1475, when the first Venetian issue is dated, 22 complete editions have been found in the city of St. Mark alone….This Latin text, constantly produced and translated, was accessible to all scholars.”
Germanic translations of the Bible: In Germany, prior to the issue of Luther’s new Testament in 1522, no authority enumerates fewer than 14 editions in High German and 3 in Low German.
Protestant historian Wilhelm Walther published a book entitled, The German Translation of the Bible in the Middle Ages, in which he proves that previous to the year 1521, before Luther ever thought of translating the Bible into the German language, there existed 17 editions of the whole Bible in German, besides an almost countless number of German versions of the New Testament, the Psalms, and other parts of the Bible.
Luther expressed remorse on the effects of his “faith alone and flee from good works” doctrine on the German people at the time:
“Since the downfall of Popery and the cessations of excommunications and spiritual penalties, the people have learned to despise the word of God. They care no longer for the churches; they have ceased to fear and honor God….I would wish, if it were possible, to leave these men without a preacher or pastor, and let them live like swine. There is no longer any fear or love of God among them. After throwing off the yoke of the Pope, everyone wishes to live as he pleases.”
“I confess…that I am more negligent than I was under the Pope and there is now nowhere such an amount of earnestness under the Gospel, as was formerly seen among monks and priests….If God had not closed my eyes, and if I had foreseen these scandals, I would never have begun to teach the Gospel.”
In studying Luther, we must remember that his cardinal dogma when he abandoned Catholic teaching was that man has no free will, that he can do no good, and that to subdue animal passion is neither necessary nor possible. He insists that the moral law of the Decalogue is not binding, that the 10 Commandments are abrogated and that they are no longer in force among Christians. “We must remove the Decalogue out of sight and heart”(De Wette, 4, 188). “If we allow them — the Commandments – any influence in our conscience, they become the cloak of all evil, heresies, and blasphemies.” (Comm. Ad Galatians). “If Moses should attempt to intimidate you with his stupid 10 Commandments, tell him right out: chase yourself to the Jews." (Wittenb. Ad 5, 1573). “As little as one is able to remove mountains, to fly with the birds, to create new stars, or to bite off one’s nose, so little can on escape unchastity.” (Alts Abenmachlslehre, 2, 118)