Wycliffe's Old Testament

Wycliffe's New Testament


Wycliffe's Apocrypha

by Terence P. Noble
(editor and publisher)

In the late 14th century, the Holy Bible was translated from Latin into Middle English by John Wycliffe and John Purvey.

Here is a sample passage:
2:8For bi grace ye ben sauyd bi feith, and this not of you; for it is the yifte of God,
2:9not of werkis, that no man haue glorie.
2:10For we ben the makyng of hym, maad of nouyt in Crist Jhesu, in good werkis, whiche God hath ordeyned, that we go in tho werkis.

This site presents the modern-spelling version of Wycliffe by Terry Noble. Here is the updated passage:
2:8 For by grace ye be saved by faith, and this not of you; for it is the gift of God,
2:9 not of works, that no man have glory.
2:10 2:10 For we be the making of him, made of nought in Christ Jesus, in good works, which God hath ordained, that we go in those works

Wycliffe and Purvey released their translation around 1382. In the 1390s, after Wycliffe's death, Purvey revised the work, making it somewhat less literal and therefore easier to read. It is this "Later Version" of the Wycliffe-Purvey Bible that Terence Noble has updated for 21st-century readers. Spelling has been deciphered, verb forms made consistent, and numerous grammatical variations standardized. Obsolete words, on the order of several hundred, have been replaced.

"The melodies and harmonies are distinctly Wycliffe's and Purvey's," writes Noble in the Introduction to the NT. "Only now, they are sung with words that we can all understand. Six centuries later, you can now read what those common folk were themselves at long last able to read (or, more likely, have read to them)...."

This was the first complete Bible in English. Without a printing press (invented 50 years later), it could only be hand-copied. Even so, it was well known and influential.

Tyndale and Coverdale's printing-press version — the next English translation of the Bible — came along more than 125 years later. This was followed in the late 1500s and early 1600s with more English translations, most originating in Europe.

And, two centuries later after Wycliffe-Purvey, in 1611, the King James version appeared. You will find thousands of verses of the Wycliffe-Purvey translation copied into the KJV with little or no change.


In the Download Area you will find:

Print and Kindle Versions

You can get printed/bound versions and Kindle versions at Amazon — click here.


About Terry Noble...

Terry Noble studied at the University of British Columbia and the Vancouver School of Theology. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. His previous books include The Sculpture of Elek Imredy (1993). His interest in photography and travel has taken him to the seven continents. Terry and Quynh live in Vancouver BC, Canada.

More from the Introduction...

John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor and theologian, was one of those few who had read the Latin Bible. Though a scholar living a life of privilege, he nevertheless felt a special empathy for the poor and the uneducated, those multitudes in feudal servitude whose lives were "short, nasty, and brutish." He challenged the princes of the Church to face their hypocrisy and widespread corruption — and to repent. He railed that the Church was no longer worthy to be The Keeper of the Word of Truth.

And he proposed a truly revolutionary idea: "The Scriptures," Wycliffe stated, "are the property of the people and one which no party should be allowed to wrest from them. Christ and his apostles converted much people by uncovering of scripture, and this in the tongue which was most known to them. Why then may not the modern disciples of Christ gather up the fragments of the same bread? The faith of Christ ought therefore to be recounted to the people in both languages, Latin and English." Wycliffe believed that with the Word of Truth literally in hand, each individual could work out his or her own salvation, with no need for any human or institutional intermediary.

And so John Wycliffe and his followers, most notably John Purvey, his secretary and close friend, translated Jerome's Vulgate, the "Latin Bible," into the first English Bible. Their literal and respectful translation was hand-printed around 1382....