Wycliffe's Bible

Wycliffe's Bible is the name now given to a group of Bible translations into Middle English that were made under the direction of John Wycliffe. They appeared over a period from approximately 1382 to 1395.[1] These Bible translations were the chief inspiration and chief cause of the Lollard movement, a pre-Reformation movement that rejected many of the distinctive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. In the early Middle Ages, most Western Christian people encountered the Bible only in the form of oral versions of scriptures, verses and homilies in Latin (other sources were mystery plays, usually performed in the vernacular, and popular iconography). Though relatively few people could read at this time, Wycliffe’s idea was to translate the Bible into the vernacular, saying "it helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ's sentence".[2]

Long thought to be the work of Wycliffe himself, the Wycliffe translations are now generally believed to be the work of several hands. Nicholas of Hereford is known to have translated a part of the text; John Purvey and perhaps John Trevisa are names that have been mentioned as possible authors. The translators worked from the Vulgate, the Latin Bible that was the standard Biblical text of Western Christianity, and the text conforms fully with Catholic teaching. They included in the testaments those works which would later be called the Apocrypha by most Protestants (referred to as deuterocanonical by Roman Catholics and some Anglicans), along with 3 Esdras (which is now called 2 Esdras) and Paul's epistle to the Laodiceans.

Although unauthorised, the work was popular. Wycliffe Bible texts are the most common manuscript literature in Middle English. More than 250 manuscripts of the Wycliffe Bible survive. One copy sold at auction on 5 December 2016 for US$1,692,500.[3]

The association between Wycliffe's Bible and Lollardy caused the Kingdom of England and the established Catholic Church in England to undertake a drastic campaign to suppress it. In the early years of the 15th century Henry IV (in his statute De haeretico comburendo), Archbishop Thomas Arundel, and Henry Knighton published criticism and enacted some of the severest religious censorship laws in Europe at that time. Even twenty years after Wycliffe's death, at the Oxford Convocation of 1408, it was solemnly voted that no new translation of the Bible should be made without prior approval. However, as the text translated in the various versions of the Wycliffe Bible was the Latin Vulgate, and as it contained no heterodox readings, there was in practice no way by which the ecclesiastical authorities could distinguish the banned version; and consequently many Catholic commentators of the 15th and 16th centuries (such as Thomas More) took these manuscript English Bibles to represent an anonymous earlier orthodox translation. Consequently, manuscripts of the Wycliffe Bible, which when inscribed with a date always purport to precede 1409, the date of the ban, circulated freely and were widely used by clergy and laity.

Wycliffe's Bible
Wycliffe John Gospel
Online asWycliffe's Bible at Wikisource
Genesis 1:1–3
1 In þe bigynnyng God made of nouȝt heuene and erþe. 2 Forsoþe þe erþe was idel and voide, and derknessis weren on the face of depþe; and the Spiryt of þe Lord was borun on the watris. 3 And God seide, Liȝt be maad, and liȝt was maad.
Genesis 1:1 in other translations
John 3:16
For God louede so þe world, that he ȝaf his oon bigetun sone, þat ech man þat bileueþ in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf.
John 3:16 in other translations

Wycliffe as a Bible translator

Ford Madox Brown - John Wycliffe reading his translation of the bible to John of Gaunt.jpeg
John Wycliffe reading his translation of the Bible to John of Gaunt. John's wife and child are also depicted, along with poets Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower.

It is questioned whether Wycliffe himself translated the whole Bible. In any case, it is certain that in the fifteenth century portions of the Scriptures were called Wycliffite.[4]

Supporters of the view that Wycliffe did translate the Bible hold that when Wycliffe took on the challenge of translating, he was breaking a long-held belief that no person should translate the Bible on their own initiative, without approval of the Church. It is said that his frustrations drove him to ignore this and that Wycliffe believed that studying the Bible was more important than listening to it read by the clergy.

At that time people mainly heard the Bible at church since they did not know how to read, and the Bible was costly (before the printing press). It is certain though that the Bible itself was familiar even to laymen in the fourteenth century and that the whole of the New Testament at least could be read in translations.[5] Also during the Middle Ages one who could read, could read Latin also, and those who could not read Latin, usually could not read at all.[6]

Wycliffe believed every Christian should study the Bible. When he met with opposition to the translation he replied "Christ and his apostles taught the people in that tongue that was best known to them. Why should men not do so now?" For one to have a personal relationship with God, Wycliffe believed that need to be described in the Bible. Wycliffe also believed that it was necessary to return to the primitive state of the New Testament in order to truly reform the Church. So one must be able to read the Bible to understand those times.[7]

Wycliffite versions of the Bible were sometimes condemned as such by the Catholic Church because a Wycliffite preface had been added to an orthodox translation.[8]


There are two distinct versions of Wycliffe's Bible that have been written. The earlier was translated during the life of Wycliffe, while the later version is regarded as the work of John Purvey. Since the printing press was not invented yet, there exist only a very few copies of Wycliffe's earlier Bible. The earlier Bible is a rigid and literal translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible, and Wycliffe's view of theology is closer to realism than to the spiritual. This version was translated word for word, which often led to confusion or meaninglessness. It was aimed towards the less learned clergymen and the laymen, while the second, more coherent version was aimed towards all literates. It is important to note that after the translations the illiterate and poor still usually lacked the access to the Scripture: the translation originally cost four marks and forty pence, i.e. two pounds, sixteen shillings and eightpence.[9] During Wycliffe's time Bibles were also used as a law-code, which dominated civil law, giving extreme power to the church and religious leaders who knew Latin. The literal taste of the earlier translation was used to give Wycliffe's Bible an authoritative tone. The earlier version is said to be written by Wycliffe himself and Nicholas of Hereford.

Surviving copies of the Wycliffite Bible fall into two broad textual families, an "early" version and a later version. Both versions are flawed by a slavish regard to the word order and syntax of the Latin originals; the later versions give some indication of being revised in the direction of idiomatic English. A wide variety of Middle English dialects are represented. The second, revised group of texts is much larger than the first. Some manuscripts contain parts of the Bible in the earlier version, and other parts in the later version; this suggests that the early version may have been meant as a rough draft that was to be recast into the somewhat better English of the second version. The second version, though somewhat improved, still retained a number of infelicities of style, as in its version of Genesis 1:3

  • Latin Vulgate: Dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux
  • Early Wycliffe: And God seide, Be maad liȝt; and maad is liȝt
  • Later Wycliffe: And God seide, Liȝt be maad; and liȝt was maad
  • Douay-Rheims: And God said: Be light made. And light was made

The familiar verse of John 3:16 is rendered in the later Wycliffe version as:

  • Later Wycliffe: For God louede so the world, that he ȝaf his oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf.
  • King James Version: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The later revised version of Wycliffe's Bible was issued ten to twelve years after Wycliffe's death. This version is translated by John Purvey, who diligently worked on the translation of Wycliffe's Bible, as can be seen in the General Prologue, where Purvey explains the methodology of translating holy scriptures. He describes four rules all translators should acknowledge:

Firstly, the translator must be sure of the text he is translating. This he has done by comparing many old copies of the Latin bible to assure authenticity of the text. Secondly, the translator must study the text in order to understand the meaning. Purvey explains that one cannot translate a text without having a grasp of what is being read. Third, the translator must consult grammar, diction, and reference works to understand rare and unfamiliar words. Fourth, once the translator understands the text, translation begins by not giving a literal interpretation but expressing the meaning of the text in the receptor language (English), not just translating the word but the sentence as well.[10]

Church reaction and controversy

At this time, the Peasants' Revolt was running full force as the people of England united to rebel against the unfairness of the English Parliament and its favouring of the wealthier classes. William Courtenay, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was able to turn both the church and Parliament against Wycliffe by falsely stating that his writings and his influence were fuelling the peasants involved in the revolt. (It was actually John Ball, another priest, who was involved in the revolt and merely quoted Wycliffe in one of his speeches.) The Church and Parliament's anger towards Wycliffe's "heresy" led them to form the Blackfriars Synod in order to remove Wycliffe from Oxford. Although this Synod was initially delayed by an earthquake that Wycliffe himself believed symbolised "the judgement of God", it eventually re-convened. At this synod, Wycliffe’s writings (Biblical and otherwise) were quoted and criticised for heresy. This Synod ultimately resulted in King Richard II ruling that Wycliffe be removed from Oxford, and that all who preached or wrote against Catholicism be imprisoned.[11]

Then later on, after John Wycliffe was dead, The Council of Constance declared Wycliffe (on 4 May 1415) a heretic and under the ban of the Church. It was decreed that his books be burned and his remains be exhumed. In 1428, at the command of Pope Martin V, Wycliffe's remains were dug up, burned, and the ashes cast into the River Swift, which flows through Lutterworth. This is the most final of all posthumous attacks on John Wycliffe, but previous attempts had been made before the Council of Constance. The Anti-Wycliffite Statute of 1401 extended persecution to Wycliffe's remaining followers. The "Constitutions of Oxford" of 1408 aimed to reclaim authority in all ecclesiastical matters, specifically naming John Wycliffe in a ban on certain writings, and noting that translation of Scripture into English by unlicensed laity is a crime punishable by charges of heresy.

Influence on subsequent English Bibles

Although Wycliffe's Bible circulated widely in the later Middle Ages, it had very little influence on the first English biblical translations of the reformation era such as those of William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale, as it had been translated from the Latin Vulgate rather than the original Greek and Hebrew; and consequently it was generally ignored in later English Protestant biblical scholarship. The earliest printed edition, of the New Testament only, was by John Lewis in 1731. However, due to the common use of surviving manuscripts of Wycliffe's Bible as works of an unknown Catholic translator, this version continued to circulate among 16th-century English Catholics, and many of its renderings of the Vulgate into English were adopted by the translators of the Rheims New Testament. Since the Rheims version was itself to be consulted by the translators working for King James a number of readings from Wycliffe's Bible did find their way into the Authorized King James Version of the Bible at second hand.

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ "Versions of the Bible", Catholic Encyclopedia, New advent.
  2. ^ Robinson, Henry Wheeler (1970), The Bible in its Ancient and English Versions, Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press, pp. 137–45.
  3. ^ "Wycliffite New Testament in the Later Version, in Middle English". Sotheby's. Sotheby's. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  4. ^ "John Wyclif", Catholic Encyclopedia. 1913
  5. ^ "John Wyclif", Catholic Encyclopedia. 1913
  6. ^ O'Hare, Patrick F.: "The Facts about Luther", TAN Books and Publishers, 1987, p.181
  7. ^ John, Stacey. John Wyclif and Reform. Westminster Press, 1964.
  8. ^ "John Wyclif", Catholic Encyclopedia. 1913
  9. ^ Levy, Ian C, Companion to John Wyclif: Late Medieval Theologian, Brill Academic Publishers, p. 395.
  10. ^ Bruce, Frederick Fyvie (April 1998), "John Wycliffe and the English Bible" (PDF), Churchman, Church society, retrieved March 16, 2011
  11. ^ "11", The Peasants' Revolt and the Blackfriars Trial, UK: LWBC, archived from the original on October 31, 2016, retrieved January 4, 2018
  12. ^ Borges, Jorge Luis (1975). El Libro de Arena. E. P. Dutton Publishing. ASIN B000P23CAI.

Further reading

  • Daniell, David (2003), The Bible in English, Yale, ISBN 0-300-09930-4.
  • Forshall, Josiah; Madden, Frederic, eds. (1850), The Holy Bible: Wycliffite Versions, Oxford.
  • Wycliffe, John and John Purvey (2012), Wycliffe's Bible, A Modern-Spelling Version of their 14th Century Translation, with an Introduction by Terence P. Noble, Createspace, ISBN 978-1-4701493-8-3

External links


Year 1388 (MCCCLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

Brut Chronicle

The Brut Chronicle, also known as the Prose Brut, is the collective name of a number of medieval chronicles of the history of England. The original Prose Brut was written in Anglo-Norman; it was subsequently translated into Latin and English. The chronicle begins England's history with the mythological founding of Britain by Brutus of Troy, named "Brut" in French and English; Brutus is the legendary great-grandson of Aeneas and his founding of Britain thus links that country to the grand history of Troy.

The first Anglo-Norman versions end with the death of King Henry III in 1272; subsequent versions extend the narrative. Fifty versions in Anglo-Norman remain, in forty-nine manuscripts, in a variety of versions and stages. Latin translations of the Anglo-Norman versions remain in nineteen different versions, which fall into two main categories; some of those were subsequently translated into Middle English. There are no fewer than 184 versions of the English translation of the work in 181 medieval and post-medieval manuscripts, the highest number of manuscripts for any text in Middle English except for Wycliffe's Bible. The sheer number of copies that survive and its late-fourteenth century translation into the vernacular indicating the growth in common literacy; it is considered "central" to the literary culture of late-medieval England.


Cameline ( KAM-ə-leen) was a fabric material used in the Middle Ages for cloth. By tradition it is commonly thought to have been originally made of camel's hair in Asia. It was imported from Cyprus and Syria into Europe. Cameline is described also as a cloak of the Arabs made of camel's hair which is oftentimes striped white and brown in color. Since history records it many times as a "common and cheap" textile it is thought that it was an imitation of the original Asian camel's hair fabric. It was sometimes a lower quality French cloth imitation made of goat's hair. The fibers were spun into yarn and produced in Flanders and the Duchy of Brabant in many colors in medieval times. It is also described as a warm light woolen textile of camel's hair combined with wool or cotton. It is considered of lesser quality than that of camlet, which is also made of camel's hair.Cameline is described in textile dictionaries as a coarse medieval fabric. The cloth of camel's hair is sometimes used in combination with other fabrics and made into a twill weave pattern or a basket weave which is finished with a soft nap. It is said to have been used in woolen clothing articles similar to cashmere wool clothing. Some authorities even think cameline is the same as we call today cashmere.


The citole was a string musical instrument, closely associated with the medieval fiddles (viol, vielle, gigue) and commonly used from 1200–1350. It was known by other names in various languages: cedra, cetera, cetola, cetula, cistola, citola, citula, citera, chytara, cistole, cithar, cuitole, cythera, cythol, cytiole, cytolys, gytolle, sitole, sytholle, sytole, and zitol. Like the modern guitar, it was manipulated at the neck to get different notes, and picked or strummed with a plectrum (the citole's pick was long, thick, straight and likely made of ivory or wood). Although it was largely out of use by the late 14th century, the Italians "re-introduced it in modified form" in the 16th century as the cetra (cittern in English), and it may have influenced the development of the guitar as well. It was also a pioneering instrument in England, introducing the populace to necked, plucked instruments, giving people the concepts needed to quickly switch to the newly arriving lutes and gitterns. Two possible descendant instrument are the Portuguese guitar and the Corsican Cetera, both types of cittern.

It is known today mainly from art and literary sources. Early examples include Provençal poetry (there called the citola) from the 12th Century; however it was more widely displayed in medieval artwork during the 13th and 14th Centuries in manuscript miniatures and in sculpture. The art did not show uniformly shaped instrument, but instead an instrument with numerous variations. The variety shown in art has led the instrument to be called "ambiguous". From the artwork, scholars know that it was generally a four-string instrument, and could have anything from a "holly-leaf" to a rounded guitar shaped body (that can be called a "T-shaped" body). While paintings and sculpture exist, only one instrument has survived the centuries.The sole survivor, associated with Warwick Castle, was made around 1290–1300. It is now preserved in the British Museum's collection. At some point, probably in the sixteenth century, it was converted into a violin-type instrument with a tall bridge, 'f'-holes and angled fingerboard; thus, the instrument's top is not representative of its original appearance. That instrument contributed to a great deal of confusion. It was labeled a violin in the 18th century, a gittern in the early 20th century and finally a citole, beginning after 1977. That confusion is itself illustrative of the confusion about the nature of citoles and gitterns; once the instruments and their traditions were gone, scholars in later centuries didn't know which images and sculpture went with which names from poetry and other literature. Additionally, scholars have translated passages in such a way that literature itself can not always be trusted. One example cited by the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica: a specific reference to the citole may be found in Wycliffe's Bible (1360) in 2 Samuel vi. 5: "Harpis and sitols and tympane". However, the Authorized Version has psaltiries, and the Vulgate lyrae. The Britannica also supposed that the citole has been supposed to be another name for the psaltery, a box-shaped instrument often seen in the illuminated missals of the Middle Ages, also liable to confusion with the gittern. Whether the terms overlapped in medieval usage has been the subject of modern controversy. The controversy of citole versus gittern was largely resolved in a 1977 article by Lawrence Wright, called The Medieval Gittern and Citole: A Case of Mistaken Identity.

Coverdale Bible

The Coverdale Bible, compiled by Myles Coverdale and published in 1535, was the first complete Modern English translation of the Bible (not just the Old Testament or New Testament), and the first complete printed translation into English (cf. Wycliffe's Bible in manuscript). The later editions (folio and quarto) published in 1537 were the first complete Bibles printed in England. The 1537 folio edition carried the royal licence and was therefore the first officially approved Bible translation in English. The Psalter from the Coverdale Bible was included in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer beginning in 1662, and in all editions of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer until 1979.


A dowel is a cylindrical rod, usually made from wood, plastic, or metal. In its original manufactured form, a dowel is called a dowel rod. Dowel rods are often cut into short lengths called dowel pins. Dowels are commonly used as structural reinforcements in cabinet making and in numerous other applications, including:

Furniture shelf supports

Moveable game pieces (i.e. pegs)

Hangers for items such as clothing, key rings, and tools

Wheel axles in toys

Detents in gymnastics grips

Supports for tiered wedding cakes

Early Modern English Bible translations

Early Modern English Bible translations are those translations of the Bible which were made between about 1500 and 1800, the period of Early Modern English. This was the first major period of Bible translation into the English language including the King James Version and Douai Bibles. The Reformation and Counter-Reformation led to the need for Bibles in the vernacular with competing groups each producing their own versions.

Although Wycliffe's Bible had preceded the Protestant Reformation, England was actually one of the last countries in Europe to have a printed vernacular Bible. There were several reasons for this. One was that Henry VIII wanted to avoid the propagation of heresies—a concern subsequently justified by the marginal notes printed in Tyndale's New Testament and the Geneva Bible, for example. Another was the Roman Catholic doctrine of Magisterium which describes the Church as the final authority in the interpretation of the Scriptures; in the volatile years of the Reformation, it was not felt that encouraging private Scriptural interpretation, and thereby possible heresy, would be helpful.

Several of the early printed English Bibles were suppressed, at least temporarily. Henry VIII complained about Tyndale's "pestilent glosses", and only tolerated the Coverdale and Matthew Bibles because the publishers carefully omitted any mention of Tyndale's involvement in them. Later, the "authorized" Great Bible of 1539 was suppressed under Mary I because of her Roman Catholic beliefs.


Hallelujah ( HAL-i-LOO-yə) is an English interjection. It is a transliteration of the Hebrew word הַלְלוּיָהּ (Modern Hebrew haleluya, Tiberian haləlûyāh), which is composed of two elements: הַלְלוּ (second-person imperative masculine plural form of the Hebrew verb hillel: an exhortation to "praise" addressed to several people) and יָהּ (the name of God Yah).The term is used 24 times in the Hebrew Bible (in the book of Psalms), twice in deuterocanonical books, and four times in the Christian Book of Revelation.The word is used in Judaism as part of the Hallel prayers, and in Christian prayer, where since the earliest times it is used in various ways in liturgies, especially those of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, both of which use the form "alleluia" which is based on the alternative Greek transliteration.

John Trevisa

John Trevisa (or John of Trevisa; Latin: Ioannes Trevisa; fl. 1342 – 1402 AD) was a Cornish writer and translator.

Trevisa was born at Trevessa in the parish of St Enoder in mid-Cornwall, and was a native Cornish speaker. He was educated at Exeter College, Oxford, and became Vicar of Berkeley, Gloucestershire, chaplain to the 5th Lord Berkeley, and Canon of Westbury on Trym.

He translated for his patron the Polychronicon of Ranulf Higden, adding remarks of his own, and prefacing it with a Dialogue on Translation between a Lord and a Clerk. He likewise made various other translations, including Bartholomaeus Anglicus' On the Properties of Things (De Proprietatibus Rerum), a medieval forerunner of the encyclopedia.

A fellow of Queen's College, Oxford from 1372 to 1376 at the same time as John Wycliff and Nicholas of Hereford, Trevisa may well have been one of the contributors to the Early Version of Wycliffe's Bible. The preface to the King James Version of 1611 singles him out as a translator amongst others at that time: "even in our King Richard the second's days, John Trevisa translated them [the Gospels] into English, and many English Bibles in written hand are yet to be seen that divers translated, as it is very probable, in that age". Subsequently he translated a number of books of the Bible into French for Lord Berkeley, including a version of the Book of Revelation, which his patron had written up onto the ceiling of the chapel at Berkeley Castle.

Trevisa's reputation as a writer rests principally on his translations of encyclopaedic works from Latin into English, undertaken with the support of his patron, Thomas (IV), the fifth Baron Berkeley, as a continuous programme of enlightenment for the laity.John Trevisa is the 18th most frequently cited author in the Oxford English Dictionary and the third most frequently cited source for the first evidence of a word (after Geoffrey Chaucer and the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society).

John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe (; also spelled Wyclif, Wycliff, Wiclef, Wicliffe, Wickliffe; 1320s – 31 December 1384), was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, Biblical translator, reformer, priest, and a seminary professor at the University of Oxford. He became an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th century and is considered an important predecessor to Protestantism.

Wycliffe attacked the privileged status of the clergy, which had bolstered their powerful role in England. He then attacked the luxury and pomp of local parishes and their ceremonies.Wycliffe also advocated translation of the Bible into the vernacular. In 1382 he completed a translation directly from the Vulgate into Middle English – a version now known as Wycliffe's Bible. It is probable that he personally translated the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and it is possible he translated the entire New Testament, while his associates translated the Old Testament. Wycliffe's Bible appears to have been completed by 1384, additional updated versions being done by Wycliffe's assistant John Purvey and others in 1388 and 1395.

Wycliffe's followers, known as Lollards, followed his lead in advocating predestination, iconoclasm, and the notion of caesaropapism, while attacking the veneration of saints, the sacraments, requiem masses, transubstantiation, monasticism, and the very existence of the Papacy.

Beginning in the 16th century, the Lollard movement was regarded as the precursor to the Protestant Reformation. Wycliffe was accordingly characterised as the evening star of scholasticism and as the morning star of the English Reformation. Wycliffe's writings in Latin greatly influenced the philosophy and teaching of the Czech reformer Jan Hus (c. 1369–1415), whose execution in 1415 sparked a revolt and led to the Hussite Wars

of 1419–1434.

Mary (name)

Mary is a feminine given name, the English form of the name Maria, which was in turn a Latin form of the Greek name Μαρία (María), found in the New Testament. Both variants reflect Syro-Aramaic Maryam, itself a variant of the Hebrew name מִרְיָם or Miryam.

Middle English

Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language, spoken after the Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. English underwent distinct variations and developments following the Old English period. Scholarly opinion varies, but the Oxford English Dictionary specifies the period when Middle English was spoken as being from 1150 to 1500. This stage of the development of the English language roughly followed the High to the Late Middle Ages.

Middle English saw significant changes to its grammar, pronunciation, and orthography. Writing conventions during the Middle English period varied widely. Examples of writing from this period that have survived show extensive regional variation. The more standardized Old English language became fragmented, localized, and was for the most part, being improvised. By the end of the period (about 1470) and aided by the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1439, a standard based on the London dialect (Chancery Standard) had become established. This largely formed the basis for Modern English spelling, although pronunciation has changed considerably since that time. Middle English was succeeded in England by the era of Early Modern English, which lasted until about 1650. Scots language developed concurrently from a variant of the Northumbrian dialect (prevalent in northern England and spoken in southeast Scotland).

During the Middle English period, many Old English grammatical features either became simplified or disappeared altogether. Noun, adjective and verb inflections were simplified by the reduction (and eventual elimination) of most grammatical case distinctions. Middle English also saw considerable adoption of Norman French vocabulary, especially in the areas of politics, law, the arts and religion. Conventional English vocabulary retained its mostly Germanic etiology, with Old Norse influences becoming more apparent. Significant changes in pronunciation took place, particularly involving long vowels and diphthongs which in the later Middle English period, began to undergo the Great Vowel Shift.

Little survives of early Middle English literature, due in part to Norman domination and the prestige that came with writing in French rather than English. During the 14th century, a new style of literature emerged with the works of writers including John Wycliffe and Geoffrey Chaucer, whose Canterbury Tales remains one of the most studied and read works of the period.

Middle English Bible translations

Middle English Bible translations (1066-1500) covers the age of Middle English, beginning with the Norman conquest and ending about 1500. Aside from Wycliffe's Bible, this was not a fertile time for Bible translation. English literature was limited because French was the preferred language of the elite, and Latin was the preferred literary language in Medieval Western Europe.

Murdoch Nisbet

Murdoch Nisbet (died 1559) was a Scottish notary public in the diocese of Glasgow who created one of the earliest Bible translations into Scots. Living in the parish of Loudoun, Ayrshire, Nisbet's work as a notary public brought him into contact with local religious dissidents. He participated in a conventicle where he illicitly conducted readings of his translation. In 1539, Nisbet "digged and built a Vault in the Bottom of his own House" to hide his New Testament manuscript and conventicle activities.Murdoch Nisbet was of the Hardhill Farm, Parish of Loudon, Ayrshire, Scotland. He was an early member of the Nisbet's of Greenholm, living near Newmilns, along the Irvine River. He joined the Lollards (early English Protestants) who followed the teachings of Wycliffe: Wycliffe and his assistants translated the Latin Bible into English about 1384. One of those assistants was John Purvey who revised Wycliffe's Bible about 1395. Murdoch Nisbet obtained a copy of Purvey's revision and began translating the New Testament into Scots, the indigenous lowland language derived from northern Middle English. It took Murdoch about 20 years to manually transcribe the New Testament and his work was passed on in the Nisbet of Greenholm family for 200 years.

Possessing a layman's version of the Bible was punishable by imprisonment or death, and Murdoch's manuscript was passed in secret within the family at Hardhill. John Nisbet the martyr gave it to his son James Nisbet who was a Sergeant at Arms at the Edinburgh Castle. Sergeant James Nisbet gave Murdoch's manuscript to Sir Alexander Boswell who kept it in his library at Auchinleck. The manuscript was held for a nephew, but he proved unreliable and sold it. Alexander Boswell immediately bought it back and it was kept in his library for 150 years until 1893. Lord Amherst of Hackney placed it at the service of the Scottish Text Society for publication about 1900. Murdoch's original manuscript is now in the British Museum of Rare Books and Manuscripts, where it is found on display in the Bible Room opened in 1938.One of Nisbet's descendants was the covenanter martyr, John Nisbet.

Nicholas Hereford

Nicholas [of] Hereford (died in 1420 in the Charterhouse of Coventry) was an English Bible translator, Lollard, reformer on the side of John Wycliffe, Fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford and Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1382. He was a Doctor of Theology, which he achieved at Oxford University in 1382.

Vale of tears

Vale of tears (Latin vallis lacrimarum) is a Christian phrase referring to the tribulations of life that Christian doctrine says are left behind only when one leaves the world and enters Heaven. The term valley of tears is also used sometimes.

The phrase appears in some translations of Psalm 84:6, which describes those strengthened by God's blessing: even in the valley of tears (Hebrew: עֵמֶק הַבָּכָא‎) they find life-giving water. The Latin Vulgate (4th century) uses the phrase "valle lacrimum" in Psalm 84:7 (the equivalent of Psalm 84:6 in English translations). Wycliffe's Bible (1395) reads "valei of teeris", and the Bishop's Bible (1568) reads "vale of teares". The King James Version (1611), however, reads "valley of Baca", and the Psalter in the Book of Common Prayer (1662) follows the Coverdale Bible (1535) and reads "vale of misery".

The phrase also occurs in the writings of Jerome (c. 347–420) and Boniface (c. 675–754), but was perhaps popularized by the hymn "Salve Regina", which at the end of the first stanza mentions "gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle", or "mourning and weeping in this valley of tears". The phrase also appears in "Be still, my soul" (1855), the English translation of the German Lutheran hymn.


Yohanan, Yochanan and Johanan are various transliterations to the Latin alphabet of the Hebrew male given name

יוֹחָנָן (Yôḥānān), a shortened form of יְהוֹחָנָן (Yəhôḥānān), meaning "Yahweh is gracious".

The name is ancient, recorded as the name of Johanan, high priest of the Second Temple around 400 BCE. It became a very popular Christian given name

in reference to either John the Apostle or John the Baptist.

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