“I’m full of joy, redeemed, set free” is the slogan being used by the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. It is taken from the opening lines of a psalm-poem by the Rhineland cabaret artist and writer Hanns Dieter Hüsch (1925-2005).

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bible and creeds The Rhineland Church uses the Bible translation made by Martin Luther.

The Bible and the Creeds

The word of God, written down by humans

The Bible is the central foundation for the faith and life of Protestants in the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland (EKiR). It tells the history of God’s dealings with his people. It is the Word of God, even though it was written down and passed on by human beings in the context of their own historical circumstances.

The Bible is not just one book, but is strictly speaking a collection of different books.  In total it comprises 66 pieces of writing: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. In addition there are another 11 apocryphal books, the so-called later writings of the Old Testament. In the Luther Bible these are not included in the core content of the Old Testament.

The 39 books of the Old Testament were mostly composed in Hebrew, with a few in Aramaic.  Written by different authors, they reveal distinct literary styles and language.  The writings can be generally divided into books of history, teachings and prophecy, among other things, and they tell the story of creation, as well as the history of the people of Israel and their faith.  These texts constitute the Bible of Jesus and the first Christians and are essential for an understanding of Christianity.

The 27 writings of the New Testament were mostly composed in Greek. The New Testament begins with the Gospels which give an account of the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth.  There then follows the Acts of the Apostles, which gives an account of the beginnings of the Church.  Following various different instructive letters, the New Testament finishes with the Revelation of St John.   

The Bible in inclusive language

The Bible in inclusive language. The Bible in inclusive language.

In the Rhineland Church we use the Bible translation made by Martin Luther. An alternative special translation which is available for ministers in the Rhineland to draw on, is the so-called “Bible in a just language” (Bibel in gerechter Sprache).  This appeared in October 2006.  More than 50 biblical scholars worked for a full five years to make a completely new translation of the scriptures, including the Apocrypha, in so-called “just” - i.e. fair and inclusive - language.

In this process three perspectives were the central focus: gender justice, justice with regard to Christian-Jewish dialogue and social justice. Thus women should also be explicitly mentioned wherever it is obvious that they are equally meant. It is possible to do this in the German language, where many words have both masculine and feminine forms, and so in the “Bible in inclusive language” there can be found places where both forms are used for specific words relating to people where previously only the masculine was used.

The creeds are important texts for the church

In addition to the Bible, the creeds are important texts for the church. They connect us in faith and tradition with our Christian forebears and with our ecumenical brothers and sisters around the world. There are old creeds from the early years of Christianity, such as the Apostles‘ Creed, which are recited almost every Sunday in services of worship. There are also texts from recent times such as the Barmen Declaration of 1934.    

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ekir.de / photo: neu / 17.11.2016

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