The First English Bible: The Text and Context of the Wycliffite Versions

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The Bible was translated into English for the first time in the late 1300s by John Wyclif and his supporters. In the first study of the Wycliffite Bible for nearly a century, Mary Dove explains why people wanted an English translation, why many clergy opposed the idea, and why the Church's attempt to censor the translation was unsuccessful. Based on intensive study of the surviving manuscripts, Dove takes the reader through every step of the conception, design and execution of the first English Bible. Illuminating examples are included at every point, and textual analyses and a complete listing of surviving manuscripts are appended. Despite the meagre and inadequate resources with which the Wycliffites carried through their enormous enterprise, and the disagreements and changes of direction it involved, Dove demonstrates that the first English Bible initiated a tradition of scholarly, stylish and thoughtful biblical translation, and remains a major cultural landmark.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Review of the hardback: 'This beautifully-written, useful and learned book by Mary Dove takes stock of the scholarship to date and looks at all the textual, linguistic and interpretative questions afresh in the light of the considerable manuscript evidence.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Review of the hardback: 'Considerably more manuscripts survive of [the Wycliffite Bible] in whole or in part (c.250) … than of any other Middle English text. This already gives good reason to welcome this new study, the first book-length treatment for nearly 90 years. But more than that, Dove's approach, detail and scholarship make this an authoritative volume.' Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Mary Dove is Reader in English at the University of Sussex.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations



List of manuscript sigla

Introduction 1

1 The Bible debate 6

2 Censorship 37

3 The translators 68

4 The canonical scriptures 83

5 The English prologues 103

6 The text 137

7 The effects 189

App. 1 Contents of the Wycliffite Bible 199

App. 2 Additions and select emendations to Forshall and Madden's edition of the Wycliffite Bible 210

App. 3 Textual scholarship: select readings 222

App. 4 Descriptions of select Wycliffite Bible manuscripts 235

Select bibliography 267

Index of manuscripts of the Wycliffite Bible 281

General index 307

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