Fond of books, like his father, Martin Luther made daily visits to the library of the university of Erfurt and spent hours amid its treasures and revelled in the riches around him.
One day, at the age of 20, when he opening books one after another, he came to a volume unlike all the others. To his surprise found that it was a Bible – the Vulgate, Jerome's Latin translation of the Scriptures. The Bible he had never seen till now. His joy was great.
There are certain portions which the Church prescribes to be read in public on Sundays and saints' days. Luther presumed these were the whole Bible. Great was his surprise to find in it whole books and epistles of which he had never before heard.
He read as one to whom the heavens had been opened. The part of the book which he read was the story of Samuel, dedicated to the Lord from his childhood by his mother, growing up in the Temple, and becoming the witness of the wickedness of Eli's sons, the priests of the Lord, who made the people to transgress, and to abhor the offering of the Lord. In all this Luther could fancy that he saw no very indistinct image of his own times.
Day after day Luther devoured some Gospel of the New or story of the Old Testament, gazing upon its page as Columbus may be supposed to have gazed on the plains and mountains of the New World.
A change began to pass upon Luther by the reading of that book. Other books had developed and strengthened his faculties, this book was awakening new powers within him. The old Luther was passing away, another Luther was coming in his place. From that moment began those struggles in his soul which were destined never to cease till they issued not merely in a new man, but a new age – a new Europe. Out of the Bible at Oxford came the first dawn of the Reformation: out of this old Bible at Erfurt came its second morning.