The Ottheinrich Bibel is the first illustrated New Testament in the German language. Duke Ludwig VII von Bayern-Ingolstadt (d. 1447) commissioned the large-format luxury manuscript in ca. or shortly after 1430. The German text of the Bible had by then been written entirely in a middle Bavarian writing language, whereas the spaces for the images were furnished with instructions for the artists in the Latin language. Nonetheless, the decoration of the book was executed by three masters from Ratisbon, or by their workshops, only on one fifth of the 307 parchment sheets. The Lauingen artist Mathis Gerung (ca. 1500 – 1570) added the rest of the miniatures and initials in the years between 1530 and 1532. Count Palatine Ottheinrich von Pfalz-Neuburg (1502 – 1559), who gave the Bible its present name, originally commissioned him.
After having received the Palatine electoral dignity in 1556, Ottheinrich later brought the Bible from Neuburg an der Donau to Heidelberg. In the course of the Thirty Years War, the Bible was looted twice as war booty. In 1622, it was taken from Heidelberg to Munich and then in 1632 from there to Weimar, until it finally arrived in Gotha. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the manuscript, temporarily also known as “Gothaer Bibel”, was separated into eight volumes. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library) acquired volumes I, II and VII in the year 1950. The State of Bavaria bought the remaining five volumes from the collections of the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg and from the Gotha’schen Stiftung für Kunst und Wissenschaft for the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek with the support of a major funding alliance in 2007. The Universitäts- und Forschungsbibliothek (University and Research Library) Erfurt/Gotha ceded the cover to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek as a permanent loan.