From the Archives: Why Wycliffe Translated the Bible Into English
For John Wycliffe, the Bible became the sole authority for all of life. He wrote:
“Holy Scripture is the preeminent authority for every Christian, and the rule of faith and of all human perfection.”
Again, he wrote:
“Forasmuch as the Bible contains Christ, that is all that is necessary for salvation, it is necessary for all men, nor for priests alone. It alone is the supreme law that is to rule Church, State, and Christian life, without human traditions and statutes.”
Wycliffe developed five rules for studying the Bible:
“Obtain a reliable text, understand the logic of Scripture, compare the parts of Scripture with one another, maintain an attitude of humble seeking, and receive the instruction of the Spirit.”
Wycliffe felt that the laity could not know the basics of the faith unless they knew the Bible. And they could best know the Bible when it was in their own language:
“Christ and His Apostles taught the people in the language best known to them. It is certain that the truth of the Christian faith becomes more evident the more faith itself is known. Therefore, the doctrine should not only be in Latin but in the vulgar tongue and, as the faith of the church is contained in the Scriptures, the more these are known in a true sense the better. The laity ought to understand the faith and, as doctrines of our faith are in the Scriptures, believers should have the Scriptures in a language which they fully understand.”
From the Midland English Translation of Wycliffe’s Bible
And so Wycliffe and his fellow scholars translated the entire Bible from the Latin Vulgate into the Midland English dialect.
As you interpret for yourself the following biblical texts from Wycliffe’s own early English, you may wish to compare the passages with the ...