The History of The English Bible
1384 - The Wycliffe Bible
John Wycliffe is credited with producing the first translation of the complete Bible into English, although he was probably assisted with the translation of the Old Testament. It was produced between 1380 and 1384 and was a very literal and word for word translation of the 4th Century Latin text that was used by the church throughout Europe at that time.
Wycliffe had propounded a theory of \'\'Dominion by Grace".
Accordingly, each person was individually responsible to God and his Law. Therefore, everyone should be able to read God\'s Law in his native English. John Wycliffe urged all men, "great and small, learned and unlearned", to make themselves acquainted with God\'s Law by reading the Bible. He was a keen Bible student, a scholarly commentator and an intense preacher. His principles were spread throughout England by a group of traveling preachers who also increased the use of this new translation. After Wycliffe\'s death, a second version of his Bible was completed by John Purvey late in the 14th Century. The English in this second version was much easier to read, which greatly increased its demand.
Even though written by hand, both versions of Wycliffe\'s Bible were copied many times and distributed throughout England. They remained in use for a great many years and are probably the Bibles referred to by Sir Thomas More in 1528. He had seen \'\'Bibles fair and old written in English in laymen\'s and women\'s hands". Wycliffe\'s followers, known as the Lollards, \'poor preachers\', took his Bible far and wide throughout England. This was the beginning of the Reformation in England.
The Pope was so enraged at the success of these heretics that he ordered Wycliffe\'s body disinterred, burnt and the ashes tossed into the river. It has been said, \'\'his ashes flowed into the seas of the world, spreading the Gospel to all the world".
F.F. Bruce, The English Bible, A History of Translations
Oxford University Press 1961. 234 pp
Sir Frederic G Kenyon, English Versions, Dictionary of the Bible
Edited by James Hastings, Charles Scribner & Sons, NY 1990