Amish use both English and German Bibles

amish bibleThe Amish use the German Martin Luther Bible in church.  For an English version, they typically use the King James translation, though some Amish may use the New International Version (NIV).  The language the Amish speak, Pennsylvania German, is generally not a written tongue, though there have been attempts made to create a Bible in the Pennsylvania German language.

Amish songbook

Amish also use a special songbook known as the Ausbund.  The Ausbund is the longest-lived songbook in continuous use.  The hymns it contains are hundreds of years old, and were composed by Anabaptist forefathers.  Common themes include human suffering and faith in God.  The Ausbund contains no musical notes, and tunes are passed down from one generation to the next.  Amish often get together in order to practice singing from the Ausbund.

Other books and publications read by the Amish

The Martyr’s Mirror is an important book for Amish as well.  It is an historical account of the suffering of Christian martyrs.  There are many stories of persecution of early Anabaptists, predecessors to the Amish in Europe.  Amish take inspiration from the tales found in the Martyr’s Mirror.

Amish families often buy their children Bible story books.  Popular sets include the Arthur Maxwell series as well as the Family Bible Library.  Classic children’s books are commonly seen in Amish homes as well, as well as traditional readers.

Some Amish read spiritually-themed magazines and books.  A number even read the more popular religious authors such as Max Lucado, John Maxwell, and Rick Warren.

Works of fiction are not very common, but are found in some Amish homes.  There is likely a significant contingent of readers of Amish fiction among Amish themselves.  Books on history are popular as well as biographies and books on the natural world.

Additionally, Amish read newspapers, often local editions.  Amish produced newspapers such as The Budget or Die Botschaft are very popular.  Some Amish may subscribe to national news magazines.

For further information, see:

The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

The Amish and the Media, eds. Diane Zimmerman Umble and David Weaver-Zercher; esp. chapters eight (“Inscribing Community: The Budget and Die Botschaft in Amish Life”, Steven M. Nolt) and nine (“Publish or Perish: Amish Publishing and Old Order Identity”, Karen Johnson-Weiner)


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