John Wycliffe was born in 1329 in Hipswell, Yorkshire. He eventually became a teacher at Oxford College, but made his livelihood as head of the church he served. The first being Fillingham and second being Lutterworth. Wycliffe was very concerned with growing corruption in the Roman Catholic Church, and often spoke out against it. He pushed for a more biblical Christianity opposing Catholic doctrines such as priest being intermediaries between God and man and transubstantiation (wine actually changing into the blood of Christ and bread actually changing into flesh during sacraments).
He believed that for a revival to happen people needed a bible in common language they could understand. At the time the Latin Vulgate was what was available. Wycliffe and what is believed to be a team of five translators begin translating the Vulgate into English. In 1380 the New Testament was put out in hand printed copies. In 1382 the entire bible was put out in hand printed copies. The lollards are “poor priests” as they were called hand copied and distributed these bibles. These led to an increase in literacy as now the bible could be read in peoples native tongue.
The Roman Catholic Church did not like the fact that people could now read the bible and interpret scriptures on their own. Persecution increased and in 1414 it became a capital offense to read the scriptures in English. Many Christians were burned with bibles hung around their necks. In 1428 Wycliffe’s body was exhumed and burnt for good measure.
I’m going to include bible verses from these next few translations I talk about. Keep in mind that the English language and spelling was not as it is today.
John 3:16 Wycliffe Bible
For God louede so the world, that he yaf his `oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf.
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