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The Wycliffite Bible: From the Prologue


1 it . . . wite, one should learn; iiij. undirstondingis, four interpretations.
2 anagogik, anagogic (see note); in deede, in fact.
3 foundament, foundation; goostly, spiritual.
4 in so myche as, in so far as; Austyn, St. Augustine; Pistle, letter; Vincent, Vincentius, Donatist bishop of Cartennae (Ténès); doctouris, learned clerics.
5 agens, against.
6 owen, ought.
7 either, or.
8 owen to sue, should try to emulate.
10 moun be taken, may be observed; forwhi, because.
11 singnefieth, signifies.
11-12 either . . . another, or another such (city).
12 to allegorie, allegorically.
15 tho, those.
16 no but . . . ben, unless they are; opynly, patently.
17 in oo . . . other, in one place or another; opin resoun, plain argument; distroied, refuted.
17-18 either whanne, or when.
18 taken, use.
18-19 Eelde Testament, Old Testament.
21 sones of biheeste, sons of promise (virtuous pagans and Christians).
21-22 Agar . . . mayde, Hagar, the handmaiden.
23 fleschly, carnal; resseyved, received; eritage, heritage.
25 figuratif spechis, figures of speech (figural language)
26 Of Cristen Teching, De doctrina Christiana (On Christian Doctrine); autouris, authors.
26-27 usiden moo, used more.
27 gramariens . . . gesse, grammarians can think of.
28 It . . . war, One should be careful.
29 take . . . lettre, don't interpret literally; sleeth, slays.
30 qwykeneth, gives life.
31 propirly . . . fleschly, in itself (i.e., literally), I interpret in a carnal manner.
32 clepid . . . deth, called more fittingly the death.
33 passith . . . suynge, surpasses that of beasts, is made subject to the carnal interpretation in following.
34 onesté, decorum, honesty.
35 neither, nor.
37 no but, except.
38 blamith . . . coveitise, condemns only avarice; enfoormeth, helps fashion.
39 condiscouns, conditions, qualities.
40 to comynge, future.
41 nursche, foster.
42-43 ether . . . either, either a shadowy likenesse or.
44 rewmys, kingdoms.
45 bylde, build; elde synnes, old sins.
46 either . . . thoo, or their causes.
47 werkis, works; unwijse, unwise.
49 pryvetees, hidden (understandings).
50 feeding either keping, nourishing or sustenance.
51-52 consideracoun, contemplation.
52 expownyng, explanation.
53 sounneth, promote.
53-54 owith . . . gessid, should not be supposed.
54 forbeedith, (and if it) discourages.
54-55 either comaundith . . . doynge, (it) either commands (spiritual) profit or good actions.
58 lijf, life.
62 thurstith, thirsts.
64 gadere . . . heed, gather together coals on his head.
65 that thou undirstonde, so that you should understand.
66 coolys . . . weylyngis, coals of fire are burning wailings; moornyngis of, sorrow in.
67 mad hool, made whole.
69 taken . . . yvel, understood sometimes in a good sense, sometimes in an evil sense.
72 Farisees, Pharisees.
74 tweyne, two; feelid, perceived.
75 it . . . perel, there is no danger (of misinterpretation).
76 prevyd, tested.
77 in hap . . . autour, perhaps the author.
79 bifore sigh, foresaw.
80 redere . . . herere, reader . . . hearer; yhe, indeed.
81 purveyde, saw beforehand; that thilke, that that (same).
82-83 purveyed . . . plentyvousliere, foreseen by God more broadly and universally.
85 Austin . . . Teching,St. Augustine in the third book of On Christian Doctrine.
88 forwhi, which is why.
89 filling, fulfillment.
90 clene, pure.
91 of . . . herte, with all your heart.
93 twey, two.
95 very kunnyng, true knowledge.
97 apis, apes; moldewerpis, moles (lit. "earth-throwers").
98 schenschipe of hemself, (the) ruination, disgrace of themselves.
99 onouris, honors.
100 omage, homage.
101 fynding, discoveries.
102 soget, susceptible.
103 hijdith, hides.
105 tho, such matters.
109 stodie, study; abomynacoun, abomination.
110 herd, heard; purposid in Yngelond, intended in England.
111 feyned, false; cheef universitee, i.e., Oxford.
112 weylyng, wailing; orrible, horrible.
113 traytouris, traitors; puple, people.
114 fourme, classes (form).
115 comensid, received a Master's degree; tweyne yeer aftir, for two years afterward.
116 ix. yeer, nine years.
116-17 can . . . gramer, knows generally his grammar.
117 traveile ful soore, work very hard.
118 fynding,support.
121 Jerom, St. Jerome (author of the Vulgate Bible); ij., second.
122 iij., third; iiij., fourth.
124 birling, pouring out; whether, (tell me) whether.
125 birlith, poured out; quyke, living.
126 leesinge, losing; chijld . . . fourmed, child might be educated.
127 wher, (or tell me) whether; stirith, stirs up.
128-29 deme . . . experiens, they judge justly who have seen it with their eyes and have known it through experience.
130 punsche, punish.
131 Sumtyme, At one time; arsistris, masters of arts (arceters).
133 dispitouse oothis, spiteful oaths.
134 cyvylians, experts in civil law; canonistris, experts in canon law; so bisy . . . lernyng, so eager for their studies.
135-36 nyce array, foolish dress.
136 ydilnesse, idleness.
137 dyvynys, theologians (divines); outtirly, utterly.
138 lyveden, lived (their lives); clennesse, purity.
139 deligat, greedy.
140 wombe, stomach.
141 maaken leesingis, make lies; eschewe . . . persecuscoun, avoid bodily persecution.
143 at iye, with their eyes; ij. orrible, second horrible.
145 passe, surpass.
146 freel, frail.
146-47 sclaundrid . . . kynde, afflicted by this cursed sin against nature.
147 iij., third; forswering . . . semble hous, swearing falsely in the assembly house.
149 portenauncis, appurtenances, accessories.
151 very, true; hooliche, wholly.
152 iiij., fourth; letten, impede.
153 yhe, namely.
153-54 spendid . . . art, spent nine or ten years studying the arts.
154 hethene, heathen.
155 bileeve, belief; ceese of venjaunce, cease from vengeance; it, i.e., the nine or ten year study of arts.
156 punschid soore, severely punished.
158 wite ye, know this.
161 no gret charge, [it is] no great matter.
162 hethen mennis, heathen men's.
164 Jerom, St. Jerome.
165 yvels to comynge, evils to come.
165-66 delyvered . . . neighinge, rescued from the approaching danger.
166 justiliere, with greater justice.
167-68 but . . . amendid, if they mend their ways.
168 j. book, first book.
169 here, heed; manasid of, threatened by.
171 eretikis . . . synnes, heretics hardened in their sins.
173 kyin, cattle, kine.
174 schenschipe, destruction; owen, ought.
174-75 on thre maneris, in three ways.
175 bi the lettre, literally.
176 the ij. . . . allegorie, second time allegorically; goostly, spiritual.
178 Natheles for Lyre, Nevertheless, since Nicholas of Lyra, author of important postils on Scripture.
180 sygh, saw.
181 withouteforth, on the outside.
183 prevy, hidden; j. prologe, first prologue.
185 oo, a single.
193 the sense . . . allegorik, in the allegorical (i.e., typological) sense.
197 thou owist . . . bileeve, you should believe.
198 whedir . . . go, where you should end up.
199 may . . . ensaumple, an example may be made.
200 sumtyme, at one time.
201 Jude, Judaea.
202 alargid, enlarged.
205 sigh, saw.
206 ourned to, adorned for.
207 rengninge, reigning.
209 modir, mother.
212 myche, much.
213 Davith . . . preching, David says of the apostles and their preaching; the soun . . . out, their voices went out.
214 eft, again.
215 puplis, peoples.
222 kunnynge, knowledgeable.
229 heriyng, praise; suynge, clinging to.
230 foundement, foundation.
230-31 covetouse . . . woode, greedy clerks are mad.
232 stoppen, block access to; moun, may.
235 symple creature, humble person.
237 felawis . . . Biblis, colleagues and helpers, to gather together many old Bibles.
237-38 doctouris . . . glosis, doctors of the Church and ordinary glosses (scriptural commentaries).
238 sumdel, somewhat.
240 Lire, Nicholas of Lyra.
241 dyvynis, theologians.
242 harde, difficult.
243 iiij., fourth; sentence, meaning.
245 it is . . . knowe, one should know.
247 opin (either openere), plain (or plainer).
248 suid, followed.
249 and ellis, otherwise.
250 superflu, superfluous.
251 ablatif . . . absolute, see note.
252 covenable, appropriate.
255 acorde, harmonize.
256 red, read.
257 tens, tense.
259 wexe drie, become dry.
263 open, clear; to Englisshe it, to translate it into English.
264 derk, obscure.
265 renneth, runs.
267 nede axen, is required.
270 lettid by relacion, impossible because of the context; openli, unambiguously.
273 ben like, are similar.
274 purposide, intended.
279-80 loke . . . newe, examines many (Bibles), especially recent ones.
281 late, recently.
282 Ebru, Hebrew.
282-83 Jerom . . . fro, St. Jerome, of Nicholas of Lyra, and [of] other expositors, disagrees with.
285 Sauter, that, Psalms, which; discordith . . . Ebru, diverges most from the Hebrew version.
290-91 where . . . deme, whether I have translated as clearly or more clearly in English than the Latin, let wise men judge.
291 langagis, languages.
292 ne doute, (let there be) no doubt.
294 theraboute, at it (i.e., studying Latin and English and translating).
296 expoune, explain.
297 shortliere, more quickly, or, perhaps, concisely.
298 myche . . . groundliere, with greater acumen and grounding; late postillatouris, recent exegetes.
301 spille . . . long, not waste our time, whether it be short or long.
305 hem thinkith, they think; defaute. . . kunnyng, lack of holiness and of knowledge.
305-06 replicacioun . . . colourable, argument seems plausible.
306 forwhi, because.
307-08 LXX. translatouris, translators of the Septuagint (Greek) version.
310 neither . . . so, nor had they such.
314 meene, unsophisticated; stidefast, steadfast.
316 gileful, cunning, fraudulent.
317 late, recently; appreve, authorized.
318-19 bi . . . power, i.e., knowlingly and deliberately.
319 putte awei, omit, neglect; leste, least; leste lettre, most trivial letter.
320 either charge, or weight.
321 deadli, mortal; for . . . theron, for they know nothing about it.
323 either . . . hem, or anything which might aid them.
324 lefulli, licitly.
325 weeryng of, wearing.
326 witen . . . wherfore, don't know why.
328 gilt . . . cuyssyns, golden saddle or use cushions.
330 foli domis, foolishness.
331-32 idiotis hardi, ignorant people bold.
333 dursten . . . do, never dared to do; replicacioun . . . lewid, rejoinder is so ignorant.
334 no but . . . scorn, only silence or polite scorn.
335 neither . . . weren, and neither were they.
335-36 neither . . . kouden, nor did they at all know.
336-37 ceessiden . . . tunge, never ceased until they had [translated] Holy Scripture into their mother tongue.
343 this day, today; trewe, honest.
345 passith mannis, surpasses man's.
346 moun be noumbrid, may be numbered (counted).
349 he semyde . . . kunnyng, he seemed (in his own mind) to have some knowledge.
350 was hardi, made bold.
351 rederis, readers.
352 derkere sentencis, more difficult (obscure) meanings.
353 Grosted, Robert Grossteste, bishop of Lincoln.
358 loken . . . bokis, scrutinize their chronicles and books.
359 expounide, explicated.
360 King Alvred, King Alfred was once thought to have founded Oxford University.
361 Sauter, the Psalms.
362 wolde . . . lengere, would have [translated] more if he had lived longer; Beemers, Bohemians.
363 exposicioun, exegesis.
364 modir langage, mother tongue.
364-65 Whi . . . wite, I can't think why Englishmen should not have the same [translations] in their mother tongue.
369 equivok, equivocal, ambiguous.
372 Salme, Psalm.
375 mut, must.
376 avoutrie, adultery.
379 clene, pure.
381 dresse, guide.
385 up, upon.
389 travel, labor, pains.
390 seme . . . hard, although it seem ever so hard.


1-2 iiij. undirstondingis . . . anagogik. The familiar medieval four-fold interpretation of Scripture developed by exegetical thinkers such as Augustine, Bede, and Rabanus Maurus. The "literal," also called the "historical," interpretation concerns the historical events (what happened, what the Bible says); the other three senses are allegorical or "goostli," involving "deeper meanings" and including the "allegorical" or "typological" understanding (people, places, and things of the Old Testament prefigure Christ and the New Testament); the "moral" understanding (pertaining to good and evil, virtues and vices); and "anagogical" (which concerns the state of souls after death and God's ultimate dispensation). The True Copye of a Prolog (R. Crowley, 1550) presents the "understandings" in a slightly different order: "Literal, Moral, Aligorike, & Anagogike." Henceforth I will record only very significant variants in The True Copye (TC), whose orthography reflects sixteenth-century rather than fifteenth-century conventions.

4 Pistle to Vincent. Vincentius, once a student with Augustine in Carthage, was in the early fifth century the leader of a Donatist sect, the sect of Rogatus, and was stationed at Cartennae (Ténès) in northwest Africa. He wrote to Augustine on the subject of coercion, accusing him of straying too far into polemics and controversies and away from disciplined study. Augustine replied to Vincentius and talked about scriptural interpretation. See Augustine's Epistle 93.

21 Agar. The barren Sarah gave Hagar, her Egyptian slave, to her husband Abraham; Abraham conceived Ishmael by Hagar (Gen. 16). Hagar allegorically symbolizes the Old Testament, which must yield place to the New (= Sarah, matriarch of the chosen people). For the interpretation of Sarah, see the present text lines 18-20 (citing Galatians 4). See especially verses 21-31. For a standard interpretation of Sarah and Hagar, see Augustine, De Civitate Dei 15.34.

26 Of Cristen Teching. De Doctrina Christiana (On Christian Doctrine). See 3.5.

29 the lettre sleeth. 2 Cor. 3:6; see also Augustine's discussion in De doctrina Christiana 3.5.

34-35 onesté of vertues. TC honestie and vertuis.

35-37 Onestee of vertues . . . no but charité. TC Honesti of vertuis perteinith to the loue of God and our neyghbours. Truth of feyth perteynith to knowe God and thy neighboure. Holy scripture co¯mau¯dith nothyng but charitie.

38-39 enfoormeth the vertues . . . condiscouns of men. TC enformith the good vertus either þe good conditio¯s of men.

43 Jeremye. Jer. 1:10.

54 and forbeedith wickidnesse. TC And if it forbyd wickidnes.

57-58 If ye eten not . . . lijf in you. John 6:54.

62-63 If thin enemy . . . to hym. Proverbs 25:21; Rom. 12:20.

63-64 Thou schalt gadere . . . heed. Proverbs 25:22: "For thou shalt heap hot coals upon his head, and the Lord will reward thee"; Romans 12:20: "For, doing this [feeding the enemy], thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head." In the B text of Piers Plowman, Patience counsels love and understanding of one's enemies: "Cast coles on his heed of alle kynde speche; / Both with werk and with word fonde his loue to wynne" (13:144-45).

67 enemy of a man. TC enemie of that man.

68-70 Also the same word . . . singnefieth the devyl. Interpretation in bono (in a good sense), signifying Christ, and in malo (in an evil sense), signifying the devil. The lion, king of beasts and destroyer, is the classic example. See De doctrina Christiana 3.25.

71-72 Be ye war . . . ypocrisie. Matt. 16:6.

73 The rewme . . . sour dough. Matt. 13:33.

88 The fulnesse of lawe is charité. See 1 Cor. 13:13.

89-91 The ende of lawe . . . feith not feyned. 1 Tim. 1:5.

91-93 Thou schalt love . . . lawe and prophetis. See Matt. 22:37-40.

97 moldewerpis. Moles (Talpa europaea), but in this context of flesh versus spirit the word reveals its etymology: molde (mould, ground, earth) + warp (from OE weorpan, throw, cast). In the Middle Ages the mole was proverbial for blindness, avariciousness, and heresy. See Beryl Rowland, Animals with Human Faces: A Guide to Animal Symbolism (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1973), p. 126.

111-12 trewe men. This phrase could mean Lollards, men and women of the true faith, as opposed to "prelates," or false ecclesiastics. Compare "symple men" at line 149 and the phrase "preche treuly and freely" at line 153. See Addresses of the Commons line 15 and note, and Chaucer's Plowman line 3 and note.

114 fourme. A forme was "A fixed or prescribed course of study." See MED s.v. forme 9. First MED citation = Wycliffite Bible.

115-17 This wolde be ix. yeer either ten . . . aftir his gramer. The courses of study at medieval Oxford and Cambridge were exceedingly rigorous. Speaking of John Wyclif's career, K. B. McFarlane has written: "An undergraduate who had started at fifteen would be at least thirty-three before he had completed his training - unless, like some well-born lawyers, he succeeded in obtaining a dispensation to telescope parts of the course. Wycliffe was forty or over, having allowed his studies to be interrupted by administrative and other duties; although already a bachelor of arts in 1356, he did not take his D.D. [Doctor of Divinity degree] apparently until 1372. Not a few others were similarly long" (John Wycliffe and the Beginnings of English Nonconformity [New York: Macmillan, 1953], p. 21). For a helpful account of courses at Paris and Oxford, see Gordon Leff, Paris and Oxford Universities in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: An Institutional and Intellectual History (New York: Wiley, 1968), and William J. Courtenay, Schools and Scholars in Fourteenth-Century England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987).

120 Amos . . . Damask. See Amos 1:3. Amos begins with a denunciation of Damascus but gets around to censuring Judah and even Israel. The Prologue author's point seems to be that Oxford University is implicated in larger illicit social trends, especially in debarring "trewe men" from the study of Scripture.

124 birling. Pouring out (for drinking); from OE byrelian, from byrle, byrele, butler, cup-bearer.

131 arsistris. Arcisters or arceters were masters of arts who had progressed to the study of philosophy. See MED s.v. arcister.

178 Lyre. Nicholas of Lyra (c. 1270-c. 1349), also spelled Lire by the Prologue author: Franciscan exegete, who wrote the highly influential Postilla litteralis super totam Bibliam, a running commentary on the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The authors of The Wycliffite Bible and of its General Prologue frequently advert to Lyra's glosses (along with those of the Glossa ordinaria) because Lyra's "commentaries often note differences between Hebrew readings in the Old Testament and readings in the Vulgate Latin" (Hudson, The Premature Reformation, p. 244). See also below, lines 221-25.

216-18 as Jerom seith . . . knowe it. Jerome's commentary on Psalm 87:6 (Hudson, Selections from English Wycliffite Writings, p. 174).

226 we ben . . . stonis. "For the identification of the stones allegorically as the gentiles, see Bede's comment on Luke 19.40, PL. 92.570" (Hudson, Selections, p. 174).

229-30 lewide men . . . foundement. Matt. 21:42-44; Acts 4:10-11. The stone = Christ has a venerable history in exegesis, notably in commentary on Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great image, which is destroyed by the stone cut out of the mountain without hands (Daniel 2:44-45). The Smiting Stone was interpreted as Christ, whose kingdom will on the last day smash world empires.

236 this symple creature. A plain man. The author sometimes, as here, refers to himself in the third person. He opposes himself to pretentious or arrogant clerics, and he seems to ally himself with "trewe men" or perhaps even "pore prestis." Wyclif sometimes referred to himself as "quidam fidelis," a faithful man; and Margery Kempe would call herself "this creature." See A. Hudson, "A Lollard Sect Vocabulary?" in Lollards and Their Books, pp. 165-80. This pose of the plain man should be compared with the persona of Jack Upland (in JU and UR) or with Piers Plowman.

237 manie elde Biblis. The author might refer to the Vulgate, with Jerome's commentary, and perhaps with interlinear glosses by others; the Vulgate with the ordinary gloss (Glossa Ordinaria); certain translations of Scripture into Old English (including the Gospels); Peter Comestor's Historia Scholastica (a retelling of the Bible with Comestor's comments); Richard Rolle's translation of the Psalms into English; and perhaps other translations of Scripture which have not survived. See Deanesly, The Lollard Bible, chap. 5 and below lines 335-40.

251 ablatif . . . absolute. Ablative is the fifth case in Latin, a case with adverbial function indicative of place (where, whence, wherewith) or in what measure, manner or quality. Ablative absolute is ablative combined with a participle to modify as a self-contained phrase the verbal predicate of a sentence. It may be translated into English by the so-called nominative absolute, often by shifting from passive to active voice, as the author of the prologue explains.

257 same tens. TC same tyme.

270 I resolve it openli. Thus, where this reesoun. TC punctuates: I resolue openly thus. Where thys reason.

284-85 I dide . . . the Sauter. There were two versions of the Latin Psalms, iuxta Hebraicum (according to the Hebrew) and iuxta LXX (according to the Septuagint: see below, note to line 287). The Hebrew version was in regular use until the time of Alcuin, who substituted the Latin translation of the LXX version; after Alcuin, the iuxta LXX or "Gallican" version was standard in medieval Vulgates. The GP authors knew and followed the Hebrew version, with Jerome's comments.

288-90 in ful fewe . . . gloside. "The writer is referring to the discrepancy between the wording of scriptural passages quoted in Jerome's extensive biblical commen-taries (PL 23-26), and that of extant medieval bibles, a discrepancy which would reveal the hazards of textual transmission. As the writer acutely observes, the commentaries, which sometimes involve grammatical analysis, will often provide a check on the accuracy of the Vulgate itself" (Hudson, Selections, p. 176).

305-06 replicacioun . . . colourable. See MED s.v. replicacioun ("Answering, an answer, a verbal response, rejoinder; an argument . . ., etc.") and colourable (1. "Of arguments, superficially attractive, persuasive, plausible"; 2. "Concealing the real purpose, intended to conceal or deceive").

307-08 LXX. translatouris. The translators of the Greek Septuagint Bible, third century B.C., which by tradition was said to have been translated by seventy or seventy-two people in seventy-two days (hence, under divine inspiration).

332 foure greete doctouris. St. Ambrose of Milan (d. 397), who wrote significant allegorical commentaries on Scripture and who taught St. Augustine; St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), the great theologian and author of Confessions, De Trinitate, De Doctrina Christiana, The City of God, and influential commentaries on Scripture; St. Jerome (d. 420), who translated the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate version); and St. Gregory the Great (d. 604), who wrote Moralia in Job and other major works of exegesis.

360-61 King Alvred . . . Oxenford. A fourteenth-century legend claimed that King Alfred of Wessex founded University College, Oxford. Forged documents supported this allegation. See, for example, Stow's Annales (London: T. Adams, 1615), p. 956; C. F. Bühler, "A Lollard Tract," Medium Ævum 7 (1938), lines 146-47 (p. 174), citing Higden's Polychronicon 6.1.

361-62 Sauter into Saxon. King Alfred translated the first fifty psalms into English prose - the first third of the Paris Psalter, a manuscript of the mid-eleventh century. See Janet Bately, "Lexical Evidence for the Authorship of the Prose Psalms in the Paris Psalter," Anglo-Saxon England 10 (1982), 69-95.

362 Beemers. "Czech versions [of Scripture] did exist before the Hussite period" (Hudson, Selections, p. 176).




From Cap. XII [Literal and Allegorical Interpretation of Scripture]

But it is to wite that Holy Scripture hath iiij. undirstondingis: literal, allegorik,
moral, and anagogik. The literal undirstonding techith the thing don in deede,
and literal undirstonding is ground and foundament of thre goostly undirstond-
ingis, in so myche as Austyn, in his Pistle to Vincent, and othere doctouris seyn,
oonly bi the literal undirstonding a man may argue agens an adversarie. Allegorik
is a goostly undirstonding that techith what thing men owen for to bileeve of
Crist either of Hooly Chirche. Moral is a goostly undirstonding that techith men
what vertues thei owen to sue and what vices thei owen to flee. Anagogik is
a goostly undirstonding that techith men what blisse thei schal have in hevene. And
these foure undirstondingis moun be taken in this word Jerusalem; forwhi to the
literal undirstonding it singnefieth an erthly citee, as Loundoun, either such
another; to allegorie it singnefieth Hooly Chirche in erthe, that fightith agens
synnes and fendis; to moral undirstondinge it singnefieth a Cristen soule; to
anagogik it singnefieth Hooly Chirche regnynge in blisse either in hevene, and
tho that ben therinne. And these thre goostly undirstondingis ben not autentik
either of beleeve no but tho ben groundid opynly in the text of Holy Scripture,
in oo place other other; either in opin resoun that may not be distroied; either
whanne the Gospelris either other apostlis taken allegorie of the Eelde Testa-
ment, and confeermyn it (as Poul in the Pistle to Galat. in iiij.o co. preveth) that
Sara, the free wijf and principal of Abraham, with Isaac hir sone, singnefieth bi
allegorie the Newe Testament and the sones of biheeste; and Agar, the hand
mayde, with hir sone Ismael, signefieth bi allegorie the Elde Testament and
fleschly men that schulen not be resseyved in to the eritage of God with the
sones of biheeste, that holden the treuthe and freedom of Cristis Gospel with
endeles charité. Also Holy Scripture hath many figuratif spechis, and as Austyn
seith in the iij. book Of Cristen Teching, that autouris of Hooly Scripture usiden
moo figuris - that is, mo fyguratif spechis - than gramariens moun gesse, that
reden not tho figuris in Holy Scripture. It is to be war, in the bigynnyng, that we
take not to the lettre a figuratif speche, for thanne, as Poul seith, the lettre sleeth
but the spirit, that is, goostly undirstonding, qwykeneth; for whanne a thing which
is seid figuratifly is taken so as if it be seid propirly, me undirstondith fleschly;
and noon is clepid more covenably the deth of soule than whanne undirstonding,
that passith beestis, is maad soget to the fleisch in suynge the lettre.
   Whatever thing in Goddis word may not be referrid propirly to onesté of
vertues neither to the treuthe of feith, it is figuratyf speche. Onestee of vertues
perteyneth to love God and the neighebore; treuthe of feith perteyneth to knowe
God and the neighebore. Hooly Scripture comaundith no thing no but charité,
it blamith no thing no but coveitise; and in that manere it enfoormeth the
vertues either goode condiscouns of men. Holy Scripture affermith no thing no
but Cristen feith bi thingis passid, present, and to comynge, and alle these thingis
perteynen to nursche charité, and make it strong, and to overcome and quenche
coveitise. Also it is figuratijf speche, where the wordis maken allegorie, ether a
derk lycnesse either parable. And it is figuratyf speche in i.o c.o of Jeremye: "To
day I have ordeyned thee on folkis and rewmys, that thou draw up bi the roote,
and distroie, and bylde, and plaunte." That is, that thou drawe out elde synnes,
and distroie circumstaunces either causis of thoo, and bylde vertues, and plaunte
goode werkis and customys. Alle thingis in Holy Scripture that seemyn to unwijse
men to be ful of wickidnesse agens a man himself either agens his neighebore ben
figuratyf spechis, and the prevytees, either goostly undirstondinges, schulden be
sought out of us, to the feeding either keping of charité. Such a reule schal be
kept in figuratif spechis, that so longe it be turned in mynde bi diligent consider-
acioun, til the expownyng either undirstonding be brought to the rewme of
charité; if eny speche of Scripture sounneth propirly charité, it owith not to be
gessid a figuratif speche; and forbeedith wickidnesse, either comaundith profyt
either good doynge, it is no figuratyf speche; if it seemith to comaunde cruelté,
either wickidnesse, either to forbede prophit, either good doinge, it is a figuratijf
speche. Crist seith: "If ye eten not the flesch of mannis Sone and drinke not His
blood, ye schulen not have lijf in you." This speche semith to comaunde wickid-
nesse either cruelté, therfore it is a figuratif speche, and comaundith men to
comune with Cristis passioun, and to kepe in mynde sweetly and profitably, that
Cristis flesch was woundid and crucified for us. Also whanne Hooly Scripture
seith, "If thin enemy hungrith, feede thou hym, if he thurstith, geve thou drinke
to hym," it comaundith benefice, either good doinge. Whanne it seith, "Thou
schalt gadere togidere coolis on his heed," it seemith that wickidnesse of yvel
wille is comaundid. This is seid bi figuratijf speche, that thou undirstonde that
the coolys of fijer ben brennynge weylyngis, either moornyngis of penaunce, bi
whiche the pride of hym is mad hool, which sorwith that he was enemy of a man
that helpith and relevith his wrecchidnesse. Also the same word either the same
thing in Scripture is taken sumtyme in good, and sumtyme in yvel, as a lyoun
singnefieth sumtyme Crist and in another place it singnefieth the devyl. Also sour
dough is set sumtyme in yvel, where Crist seith, "Be ye war of the sour dough
of Farisees, which is ypocrisie"; sour dough is sett also in good, whanne Crist seith,
"The rewme of hevenes is lyk sour dough," etc. And whanne not oo thing aloone
but tweyne, either mo, ben feelid either undirstonden, bi the same wordis of
Scripture, though that it is hid, that he undirstond that wroot it is no perel, if it
may be prevyd bi othir placis of Hooly Scripture that ech of tho thingis acordith
with treuthe. And in hap the autour of Scripture seith thilk sentense in the same
qwordis which we wolen undirstonde; and certys the Spirit of God, that wroughte
these thingis bi the autour of Scripture, bifore sigh withoute doute, that thilke
sentense schulde come to the redere, either to the herere - yhe, the Holy Goost
purveyde - that thilke sentence, for it is groundid on trewthe, schulde come to
the redere, either to the herere, forwhi what myghte be purveyed of God largiliere
and plentyvousliere in Goddis spechis than that the same wordis be undirstonden
in manye maners, whiche maners, either wordis of God, that ben not of lesse
autorité, maken to be preved. Austin in iij. book Of Cristen Teching seith al this
and myche more, in the bigynnyng therof. Also he whos herte is ful of charité
conprehendith, withouten any errour, the manyfoold abundaunce and largest
teching of Goddis Scripturis, forwhi Poul seith, "The fulnesse of lawe is charité,"
and in another place, "The ende of lawe," that is, the perfeccioun (either filling)
of the lawe, "is charité of clene herte, and of good conscience, and of feith not
feyned"; and Jhesu Crist seith, "Thou schalt love thi Lord God of al thin herte,
and of al thi soule, and of al thi mynde, and thi neighebore as thi-self, for in
these twey comaundementis hangith al the lawe and prophetis."
From Cap. XIII [Dangerous curricular changes at Oxford University]    
Thes worldly foolis schulden wite that hooly lijf is a launterne to bringe a man
to very kunnynge, as Crisostom seith, and the drede and love of God is the
bigynning and perfeccioun of kunnyng and wijsdom; and whanne these fleschly
apis and worldly moldewerpis han neither the bigynnyng of wijsdom, neither
desyren it, what doon thei at Hooly Scripture, to schenschipe of hemself and of
othere men? As longe as pride and coveitise of worldly goodis and onouris is
rootid in her herte, thei maken omage to Sathanas, and offren to him bothe bodi
and soule, and al her witt and fynding. Such foolis schulden thenke that wijsedom
schal not entre into an yvel willid soule, neither schal dwelle in a body soget to
synnes; and Jhesu Crist seith that the Fadir of hevene hijdith the prevytees of
Hooly Scripture fro wijse men and prudent, that is wijse men and prudent to the
world, and in her owne sight, and schewith tho to meke men; therfore worldly
foolis, do ye first penaunce for youre synnes, and forsake pride and coveitise, and
be ye meke, and drede ye God in alle thingis, and love Him over alle other
thingis, and youre neigheboris as youre self; and thanne ye schulen profite
in stodie of Hooly Writ. But alas, alas, alas! The moost abomynacoun that ever was
herd among Cristen clerkis is now purposid in Yngelond, bi worldly clerkis and
feyned religiouse, and in the cheef universitee of oure reume, as manye trewe
men tellen with greet weylyng. This orrible and develis cursednesse is purposid
of Cristis enemyes and traytouris of alle Cristen puple, that no man schal lerne
dyvynité, neither Hooly Writ, no but he that hath doon his fourme in art, that is,
that hath comensid in art, and hath ben regent tweyne yeer aftir. This wolde be
ix. yeer either ten bifore that he lerne Hooly Writ aftir that he can comunly wel
his gramer, though he have a good witt and traveile ful soore, and have good
fynding ix. either x. yeer aftir his gramer. This semith uttirly the develis purpos,
that fewe men either noon schulen lerne and kunne Goddis lawe. But God seith
bi Amos, on thre greete trespasis of Damask and on the iiij., "I schal not con-
verte him"; where Jerom seith, the firste synne is to thenke yvelis, the ij. synne
is to consente to weyward thoughtis, the iij. synne is to fille in werk, the iiij.
synne is to do not penaunce aftir the synne, and to plese himself in his synne. But
Damask is interpretid drinkynge blood, either birling blood. Lord, whether Oxun-
ford drinke blood and birlith blood, bi sleeinge of quyke men and bi doinge of
sodomye, in leesinge a part of mannis blood, wherbi a chijld myte be fourmed,
deme thei that knowen; and wher Oxunforde drinke blood of synne, and stirith
othere men of the lond to do synne bi booldnesse off clerkis, deme thei justly
that seen it at iye and knowen bi experiens. Loke now wher Oxunford is in thre
orrible synnes and in the fourthe, on which God restith not til He punsche it.
Sumtyme children and yunge men arsistris weren devout and clene as aungels in
comparisoun of othere; now men seyn thei ben ful of pride and leccherie, with
dispitouse oothis, needles and false, and dispising of Goddis heestis. Sumtyme
cyvylians and canonistris weren devout and so bisy on her lernyng that they
tooken ful litil reste of bed; now men seyn that thei ben ful of pride and nyce
array, envye, and coveitise, with leccherie, glotonie, and ydilnesse. Sumtyme
dyvynys weren ful hooly and devout, and dispisiden outtirly the world, and
lyveden as aungels in meeknesse, clennesse, sovereyn chastité, and charité, and
taughten treuly Goddis lawe in werk and word; now, men seyn, thei ben as deligat
of hir mouth and wombe, and as coveitouse as othere worldly men, and flateren,
and maaken leesingis in preching, to eschewe bodyly persecuscoun, and to gete
benefices. The firste grete synne is generaly in the université, as men dreden and
seen at iye; the ij. orrible synne is sodomye and strong mayntenaunce thereof, as
it is knowen to many persones of the reume, and at the laste parlement. Alas,
dyvynys, that schulden passe othere men in clennesse and hoolynesse, as aungels
of hevene passen freel men in vertues, ben moost sclaundrid of this cursed synne
agens kynde! The iij. orrible synne is symonie, and forswering in the semble hous,
that schulde be an hous of rightfulnesse and hoolynesse, where yvelis schulde be
redressid; this symonie with portenauncis thereof is myche worse and more abom-
ynable than bodily sodomye. Yit on these thre abomynacouns God wolde gra-
ciously converte clerkis if thei wolden do very penaunce, and geve hem hooliche
to vertues. But on the iiij. most abomynacoun purposid now to letten Cristen
men - yhe, prestis and curatis - to lerne freely Goddis lawe til thei han spendid
ix. yeer either x. at art, that conprehendith many strong errouris of hethene men
agens Cristen bileeve, it seemith wel that God wole not ceese of venjaunce til it
and othere ben punschid soore; for it seemith that worldly clerkis and feyned
relygiouse don this, that symple men of wit and of fynding knowe not Goddis
lawe, to preche it generaly agens synnes in the reume. But wite ye, worldly clerkis
and feyned relygiouse, that God bothe can and may, if it lykith Hym, speede
symple men out of the universitee, as myche to kunne Hooly Writ as maistris in
the université; and therfore no gret charge, though never man of good wille be
poisend with hethen mennis errouris ix. yeer either ten, but evere lyve wel and
stodie Hooly Writ, bi elde doctouris and newe, and preche treuly and freely agens
opin synnes, to his deth. See therfore what Jerom seith on Amos. God bifore
seith yvels to comynge, that men heere, and amende hemself, and be delyvered
fro the perel neighinge, either if that thei dispisen, thei ben punschid justiliere;
and God, that bifore seith peynes, wole not punsche men that synnen but that
thei be amendid. Jerom seith this in the ende of the j. book of Amos. God, for
His greet mercy, graunte that clerkis here the greet venjaunce manasid of God,
and amende hemself treuly, that God punsche not hem; for if thei amenden not
hemself, thei ben eretikis maad hard in her synnes. But see what Jerom seith
agens eretikis and in comendinge of Hooly Scripture. He seith thus on Amos:
"Eretikis that serven the wombe and glotonye ben clepid rightfully fattest kyin,
either kyin ful of schenschipe." "We owen to take Hooly Scripture on thre man-
eris. First, we owen undirstonde it bi the lettre and do alle thingis that ben
comaundid to us therinne; the ij. tyme bi allegorie, that is, goostly undirstonding;
and in the iij. tyme bi blisse of thingis to comynge." Jerom seith this in the ij.
book on Amos, and in iiij. co. of Amos. Natheles for Lyre cam late to me, see
what he seith of the undirstonding of Holy Scripture. He writith thus on the ij.
prologe on the Bible: "Joon seith in v. co. of Apoc. 'I sygh a book written with-
inne and withouteforth in the hond of the sittere on the trone'; this book is Holy
Scripture, which is seid writen without forth as to the literal undirstonding and
withinne as to the prevy and goostly undirstonding." And in the j. prologe he
declarith iiij. undirstondingis of Hooly Writ in this manere: "Holy Writ hath this
specialté, that undir oo lettre it conteyneth many undirstondingis; for the princi-
pal autour of Hooly Writ is God Himself, in whose power it is not oonly to use
wordis to singnifie a thing as men don, but also He usith thingis singnefied bi
wordis to singnefie other thingis; therfore, bi the singnyfying bi wordis is taken
the literal undirstonding (either historial) of Holy Scripture, and bi the singne-
fying which is maad bi thingis is taken the prevy either goostly undirstonding,
which is thre maneres - allegorik, moral (either tropologik), and anogogik.
If thingis singnefied bi wordis ben referrid to singnefie tho thingis that owen to be
bileeved in the Newe Testament, so it is taken the sense of allegorik. If thingis
ben referrid to singnefie tho thingis whiche we owen to do, so it is moral sense
either tropologik. If thingis ben referrid to singnefie tho thingis that scholen be
hopid in blisse to comynge, so it is anagogik sense. The lettre techith what is
doon; allegorie techith what thou owist for to bileeve; moral techith what thou
owist for to do; anagogic techith whedir thou owist to go. And of these iiij. sensis
(either undirstondingis) may be set ensaumple in this word Jerusalem. For bi the
literal undirstonding Jerusalem singnefieth a cyté that was sumtyme the cheef
citée in the rewme of Jude; and Jerusalem was foundid first of Melchisedech, and
aftirward it was alargid and maad strong bi Salomon. Bi moral sense it sing-
nefieth a feithful soule, bi which sense it is seid in lij. c. of Isaie, 'Rise thou, rise
thou, sette thou Jerusalem.' Bi sense allegorik it singnefieth the Chirche fightinge
agens synnes and feendis, bi which sense it is seid in xxj. co. of Apoc: 'I sigh the
hooly citée newe Jerusalem comynge doun fro hevene, as a spouse ourned to hire
housbonde.' Bi sence anagogik it singnefieth the Chirche rengninge in blisse; bi
this sence it is seid in iiij. co. to Galat.: 'Thilke Jerusalem which is above, which
is oure modir, is free'; and as ensaumple is set in oo word, so it might be set in
oo resoun, and as in oon, so and in othere." Lire seith al this in the firste
prologe on the Bible.
Cap. XV [Translating Scripture from Latin into English]

For as myche as Crist seith that the Gospel shal be prechid in al the world, and
Davith seith of the postlis and her preching, "The soun of hem yede out into ech
lond, and the wordis of hem yeden out into the endis of the world"; and eft
Davith seith, "The Lord schal telle in the Scripturis of puplis, and of these
princis that weren in it," that is, in Holi Chirche. And as Jerom seith on that
vers: "Hooly Writ is the scripture of puplis, for it is maad that alle puples
schulden knowe it." And the princis of the Chirche that weren therinne ben the
postlis that hadden autorité to writen Hooly Writ, for bi that same that the
postlis writiden her scripturis bi autorité and confermynge of the Hooly Goost,
it is Hooly Scripture, and feith of Cristen men, and this dignité hath noo man
aftir hem, be he nevere so hooly, never so kunnynge, as Jerom witnessith on that
vers. Also Crist seith of the Jewis that crieden Osanna to Him in the temple that,
though thei weren stille, stoonis schulen crie, and bi stoonis He undirstondith
hethen men that worshipiden stoonis for her goddis. And we Englische men ben
comen of hethen men, therfore we ben undirstonden bi thes stonis, that schulden
crie Hooly Writ; and as Jewis, interpretid knowlechinge, singnefien clerkis that
schulden knouleche to God bi repentaunce of synnes and bi vois of Goddis
heriyng, so oure lewide men, suynge the corner ston Crist, mowen be singnefied
bi stonis, that ben harde and abydinge in the foundement. For, though covetouse
clerkis ben woode by simonie, eresie, and manye othere synnes, and dispisen and
stoppen Holi Writ as myche as thei moun, yit the lewid puple crieth aftir Holi
Writ, to kunne it, and kepe it, with greet cost and peril of here lif.
   For these resons and othere, with comune charité to save alle men in oure
rewme whiche God wole have savid, a symple creature hath translatid the Bible
out of Latyn into English. First, this symple creature hadde myche travaile, with
diverse felawis and helperis, to gedere manie elde Biblis, and othere doctouris
and comune glosis, and to make oo Latyn Bible sumdel trewe; and thanne to
studie it of the Newe, the text with the glose, and othere doctouris as he mighte
gete, and speciali Lire on the Elde Testament, that helpide ful myche in this
werk. The thridde tyme to counseile with elde gramariens and elde dyvynis of
harde wordis and harde sentencis, hou tho mighten best be undurstonden and
translatid. The iiij. tyme to translate as cleerli as he coude to the sentence, and
to have manie gode felawis and kunnynge at the correcting of the translacioun.
First it is to knowe that the best translating is out of Latyn into English to
translate aftir the sentence and not oneli aftir the wordis, so that the sentence be
as opin (either openere) in English as in Latyn and go not fer fro the lettre; and
if the lettre mai not be suid in the translating, let the sentence evere be hool and
open, for the wordis owen to serve to the entent and sentence and ellis the
wordis ben superflu either false. In translating into English, manie resolucions
moun make the sentence open, as an ablatif case absolute may be resolvid into
these thre wordis, with covenable verbe, the while, for, if, as gramariens seyn; as
thus: the maistir redinge, I stonde mai be resolvid thus, while the maistir redith, I
stonde, either if the maistir redith, etc. either for the maistir, etc. And sumtyme it
wolde acorde wel with the sentence to be resolvid into whanne either into aftir-
ward; thus, whanne the maistir red, I stood, either aftir the maistir red, I stood. And
sumtyme it mai wel be resolvid into a verbe of the same tens, as othere ben in
the same resoun, and into this word et (that is, and in English); as thus, arescent-
ibus hominibus prae timore, that is, and men shulen wexe drie for drede. Also
a participle of a present tens either preterit, of actif vois eithir passif, mai be
resolvid into a verbe of the same tens and a conjunccioun copulatif; as thus,
dicens, that is, seiynge, mai be resolvid thus: and seith eithir that seith. And this
wole, in manie placis, make the sentence open, where to Englisshe it aftir the
word wolde be derk and douteful. Also a relatif, which mai be resolvid into his
antecedent with a conjunccioun copulatif; as thus, which renneth, and he renneth.
Also whanne oo word is oonis set in a reesoun, it mai be set forth as ofte as it
is undurstonden either as ofte as reesoun and nede axen. And this word autem
either vero mai stonde for forsothe either for but, and thus I use comounli; and
sumtyme it mai stonde for and, as elde gramariens seyn. Also whanne rightful
construccioun is lettid by relacion, I resolve it openli. Thus, where this reesoun,
Dominum formidabunt adversarij ejus, shulde be Englisshid thus bi the lettre, the
Lord hise adversaries shulen drede, I Englishe it thus bi resolucioun, the adversar-
ies of the Lord shulen drede him; and so of othere resons that ben like. At the
bigynnyng I purposide, with Goddis helpe, to make the sentence as trewe and
open in English as it is in Latyn, either more trewe and more open than it is in
Latyn; and I preie, for charité and for comoun profyt of Cristene soulis, that if
ony wiys man fynde ony defaute of the truthe of translacioun, let him sette in the
trewe sentence and opin of Holi Writ, but loke that he examyne truli his Latyn
Bible, for no doute he shal fynde ful manye Biblis in Latyn ful false, if he loke
manie, nameli newe. And the comune Latyn Biblis han more nede to be cor-
rectid, as manie as I have seen in my lif, than hath the English Bible late trans-
latid; and where the Ebru, bi witnesse of Jerom, of Lire, and othere expositouris,
discordith fro oure Latyn Biblis, I have set in the margyn, bi maner of a glose,
what the Ebru hath, and hou it is undurstondun in sum place. And I dide this
most in the Sauter, that of alle oure bokis discordith most fro Ebru; for the
Chirche redith not the Sauter bi the laste translacioun of Jerom out of Ebru into
Latyn, but another translacioun of othere men, that hadden myche lasse kunnyng
and holynesse than Jerom hadde; and in ful fewe bokis the Chirche redith the
translacioun of Jerom, as it mai be previd bi the propre origynals of Jerom,
whiche he gloside. And where I have translatid as opinli or opinliere in English
as in Latyn, late wise men deme, that knowen wel bothe langagis and knowen wel
the sentence of Holi Scripture. And where I have do thus or nay, ne doute - thei
that kunne wel the sentence of Holi Writ and English togidere and wolen tra-
vaile, with Goddis grace, theraboute - moun make the Bible as trewe and as
opin, yea, and opinliere, in English than it is in Latyn. And no doute to a symple
man, with Goddis grace and greet travail, men mighten expoune myche openliere
and shortliere the Bible in English than the elde greete doctouris han expounid
it in Latyn, and myche sharpliere and groundliere than manie late postillatouris,
eithir expositouris, han don. But God, of His grete merci, geve to us grace to lyve
wel and to seie the truthe in covenable manere, and acceptable to God and His
puple, and to spille not oure tyme, be it short be it long at Goddis ordynaunce.
But summe, that semen wise and holi, seyn thus: if men now weren as holi as
Jerom was, thei mighten translate out of Latyn into English, as he dide out of
Ebru and out of Greek into Latyn, and ellis thei shulden not translate now, as
hem thinkith, for defaute of holynesse and of kunnyng. Though this replicacioun
seme colourable, it hath no good ground, neither resoun, neithir charité forwhi
this replicacioun is more agens Seynt Jerom and agens the firste LXX. transla-
touris, and agens Holi Chirche, than agens symple men, that translaten now into
English. For Seynt Jerom was not so holi as the apostlis and evangelistis, whos
bokis he translatide into Latyn, neither he hadde so highe giftis of the Holi Gost
as thei hadden; and myche more the LXX. translatouris weren not so holi as
Moises and the profetis, and speciali Davith, neither thei hadden so greete giftis
of God as Moises and the prophetis hadden. Ferthermore Holi Chirche appreveth
not oneli the trewe translacioun of meene Cristene men, stidefast in Cristene
feith, but also of open eretikis, that diden awei manie mysteries of Jhesu Crist bi
gileful translacioun, as Jerom witnessith in oo prolog on Job and in the prolog
of Daniel. Myche more late the chirche of Engelond appreve the trewe and hool
translacioun of symple men, that wolden for no good in erthe, bi here witing and
power, putte awei the leste truthe - yea, the leste lettre either title - of Holi
Writ that berith substaunce either charge. And dispute thei not of the holynesse
of men now lyvynge in this deadli lif, for thei kunnen not theron, and it is
reservid oneli to Goddis doom. If thei knowen ony notable defaute bi the trans-
latouris either helpis of hem, lete hem blame the defaute bi charité and merci
and lete hem nevere dampne a thing that mai be don lefulli, bi Goddis lawe, as
weeryng of a good cloth for a tyme either riding on an hors for a greet journey,
whanne thei witen not wherfore it is don; for suche thingis moun be don of
symple men, with as greet charité and vertu as summe that holden hem greete
and wise kunnen ride in a gilt sadil either use cuyssyns and beddis and clothis
of gold and of silk, with othere vanitées of the world. God graunte pité, merci, and
charité, and love of comoun profyt, and putte awei such foli domis, that ben
agens resoun and charité. Yit worldli clerkis axen gretli what spiryt makith idiotis
hardi to translate now the Bible into English, sithen the foure greete doctouris
dursten nevere do this? This replicacioun is so lewid that it nedith noon answer
no but stillnesse eithir curteys scorn; for these greete doctouris weren noon
English men, neither thei weren conversaunt among English men neither in caas
thei kouden the langage of English, but thei ceessiden nevere til they hadden
Holi Writ in here modir tunge, of here owne puple. For Jerom, that was a Latyn
man of birthe, translatide the Bible bothe out of Ebru and out of Greek, into
Latyn, and expounide ful myche therto. And Austyn and manie mo Latyns ex-
pouniden the Bible for manie partis, in Latyn, to Latyn men, among whiche thei
dwelliden, and Latyn was a comoun langage to here puple aboute Rome and
biyondis; and on this half, as Englische is comoun langage to oure puple, and yit
this day the comoun puple in Italie spekith Latyn corrupt, as trewe men seyn that
han ben in Italie. And the noumbre of translatouris out of Greek into Latyn
passith mannis knowing, as Austyn witnessith in the ij. book Of Cristene Teching,
and seith thus: "The translatouris out of Ebru into Greek moun be noumbrid,
but Latyn translatouris either thei that translatiden into Latyn, moun not be
noumbrid in ony manere." For in the firste tymes of feith, ech man, as a Greek
book came to him and he semyde to him-silf to have sum kunnyng of Greek and
of Latyn, was hardi to translate; and this thing helpide more than lettide undur-
stonding, if rederis ben not necligent, forwhi the biholding of manie bokis hath
shewid ofte eithir declarid summe derkere sentencis. This seith Austyn there.
Therfore Grosted seith that it was Goddis wille that diverse men translatiden,
and that diverse translacions be in the Chirche; for where oon seide derkli, oon
either mo seiden openli. Lord God - sithen at the bigynnyng of feith so manie
men translatiden into Latyn, and to greet profyt of Latyn men, lat oo symple
creature of God translate into English, for profyt of English men! For if worldli
clerkis loken wel here croniclis and bokis, thei shulden fynde that Bede trans-
latide the Bible and expounide myche in Saxon that was English either comoun
langage of this lond in his tyme; and not oneli Bede but also King Alvred, that
foundide Oxenford, translatide in hise laste daies the bigynning of the Sauter into
Saxon, and wolde more if he hadde lyved lengere. Also Frenshe men, Beemers,
and Britons han the Bible and othere bokis of devocioun and of exposicioun
translatid in here modir langage. Whi shulden not English men have the same in
here modir langage I can not wite - no but for falsnesse and necgligence of
clerkis either for oure puple is not worthi to have so greet grace and gifte of
God, in peyne of here olde synnes? God for His merci amende these evele causis,
and make oure puple to have, and kunne, and kepe truli Holi Writ to lijf
and deth! But in translating of wordis equivok - that is, that hath manie significa-
cions under oo lettre - mai lightli be pereil; for Austyn seith in the ij. book Of
Cristene Teching that if equivok wordis be not translatid into the sense (either
undurstonding) of the autour, it is errour. As in that place of the Salme, the feet
of hem ben swifte to shede out blood, the Greek word is equivok to sharp and
swift; and he that translatide sharpe feet erride, and a book that hath sharpe feet
is fals and mut be amendid. As that sentence unkynde yonge trees shulen not geve
depe rootis owith to be thus: plauntingis of avoutrie shulen not geve depe rootis.
Austyn seith this there. Therfore a translatour hath greet nede to studie wel the
sentence both bifore and aftir, and loke that suche equivok wordis acorde with
the sentence; and he hath nede to lyve a clene lif, and be ful devout in preiers,
and have not his wit ocupied about worldli thingis, that the Holi Spiryt, autour
of wisdom, and kunnyng, and truthe, dresse him in his werk, and suffre him not
for to erre. Also this word ex signifieth sumtyme of, and sumtyme it signifieth bi,
as Jerom seith; and this word enim signifieth comynli forsothe and, as Jerom
seith, it signifieth cause thus, forwhi; and this word secundum is taken for aftir,
as manie men seyn, and comynli it signifieth wel bi eithir up, thus bi youre word
either up youre word. Manie such adverbis, conjuncciouns, and preposiciouns
set ofte oon for another, and at fre chois of autouris symtyme; and now tho
shulen be taken as it acordith best to the sentence. Bi this maner, with good
lyvyng and greet travel, men moun come to trewe and cleer translating, and trewe
undurstonding of Holi Writ, seme it nevere so hard at the bigynnyng. God
graunte to us alle grace to kunne wel, and kepe wel Holi Writ, and suffre joiefulli
sum peyne for it at the laste! Amen.

Go To The Lanterne of Light: Prologue and Chapters 3-5

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