John Wycliffe was the first to translate

the bible in English and thus the first to

protest against the Roman dominated

church. The key feature of Wycliffe's

 (1324-1382) reform was, "the endeavor to

 recall the Church to 'Apostolic

 Christianity'. Each human soul might

 have access to the divine life and was

 responsible to God alone. Therefore, the

 mediation of a priest was unnecessary,

 and the pride and greed of the ecclesiastical

 hierarchy for power over nations was

 nothing more than a fungus grown upon

 the primitive church of Christ. He

 denounced pilgrimages and the sale of pardons,

 indulgences and relics, as of no avail. The

 climax came when he denounced the

 cornerstone of priestly authority,


 and overshadowed by persecution, he

 withdrew to his parish church at

 Lutterworth and devoted his energies to

 translating the Bible into the speech of his

 countrymen and to training "poor priests"

 who would perpetuate his message. These

 men came to be known as Lollards. In due

 time Wycliffe was denounced as a heretic

 and although his writings were burned in

 accordance with Papal decree they were

 reproduced by the Lollards with marvelous

 rapidity and were read everywhere, even

 in the houses of the nobility and at the

 court of King Richard the Second.


Richard's consort, Anne of Bohemia

(Czech Republic), possessed a copy of Wycliffe's Bible, and upon her

decease, her attendants returned to Prague carrying Olympian like, the

light of truth which John Huss proclaimed to the Czech people until the

protestant revolt against the Church was permanently established in

Bavaria (southern Germany, Munich).



As this first translation began to circulate throughout England people of every

walk of life hungrily aborbed the ''New Learning''. As quickly as they

came to realize the great truth, - that every man was equally blessed

with  the Holy Spirit as his personal birthright and was endowed with

the power to commune with his God without the necessity of any

mediator outside of himself to intercede for him - Protestantism spread

like an uncontrolled forest fire. Men joyously proclaimed the ''Glad

Tidings'' to their fellow workmen as they toiled from sun up till dark.

Handwritten copies of each of the four Gospels were sold in separate

books or traded on the open market. As British court records show,

Paul's Letters ''were bought once for a wagon load of hay''.


     Because of this translation disturbances and unrest against the

organized Church developed in due course from the excitement of being

able to read the 'Altar Book'' itself. Finally rioting broke out in all

seriousness and in June 1381, one year before Wycliffe's death, a mob

under the direction of Wat Tyler took possession of London Town and

on the 14th day the Archbishop of Canterbury, Simon Sudbury, was

beheaded in company of other ''theiving Prelates''. The wilfull beggary of

the mendicant friars ''who blasphemed and slandered Christ's religion, was

vanquished by the very force of the scriptures''.



It was not long before

the Church, which was also the body of State government, filled the jail

houses. When Arundel succeeded Archbishop Courtney, in 1400 A.D., he

became the uncompromising persecutor of all who were suspected of

''Lollardie'', and caused Wylliam Sautre to be the first to be burned in

England for heresy.



In 1408 A.D. a convocation of the Bishops, called

Canterbury, was held at Oxford and thirteen constitutions were enacted

that sounded the death knell to the personal inward religion of the

Protestant movement. The first two defined WHO alone might

preach; the third and fourth determined WHAT might be preached;

the fifth restricted the School Men as to what the pupils WERE

ALLOWED TO KNOW; the sixth was directed against the writings of John

Wycliffe by name; while the seventh PROHIBITED ALL SCRIPTURES in

English. The edict reads: ''It is a dangerous thing, as Saint Jerome

assures us, to translate the Holy Scripture, it being very difficult in a

version to keep close to the sense of the inspired writers: for by the

confession of the same father he has mistaken the meaning of several

texts. (!!) We therefore decree and ordain, that from henceforward no

unauthorized person shall translate any part of the Holy Scriptures into

English or any other language, under any form or treatise: neither shall

any such book, treatise, or version, made either in Wycliffe's time or

since, be read, either in whole or in part, publicly or privately, under the

penalty of ------------'' (BAGSTER'S ENGLISH HEXAPLA, Preface, page





      For one hundred and thirty years relative was

enticed to betray relative, all to the "Grace of God" to keep the

stake supplied with victims. In Fox's extracts from the Registar of

Lincoln, dated 1521, details are given of the evil manner in which the


persecutions were carred out. It was for this reason that Tyndale "could

find no place in all England" and had to flee to the continent to make his

translation, then have the copies smuggled back to the land that gave

him birth. The ban remained in force until a time when John Rogers, his

printer at Antwerp (Belgium), collected all of Tyndale's writings,

prologues and notes and made them into one WHOLE bible, supplying

the Psalms and those books still wanting from Coverdale's translation

made from a Latin version, and printed all of it under the nome de plume

of Thomas Matthew, translator. This book was the first whole Bible. One

of these "tall, fine copies" came into the hands of Cranmer who was


Archbishop. Meanwhile, the country had been deluged with six editions

of Tyndale's New Testament books, together with innumerable others

copied by pirating Dutch printers. It had been made clear to the

Archbishop that since the power of the presses could not be stopped,

they could be controlled. Armed with this "Thomas Matthew Bible", he

wrote on August fourth, 1535 to Cromwell, who was then Prime Minister,

to show it to King Henry VIII to induce him to sign the enclosed edict,

"and procure the King's Licence for its being read and sold by all without

any danger from any acts, ordinances, or proclamations to the contrary

- - - -" The Archbishop gave his judgement of the version as being very

well done, and requested that it be put in force "until the Bishops should

put forth their own translation". The Royal Decree was granted August

13th of that year.


   Thus, by a strange quirk of fate, Tyndale's Bible (Matthews) with all

its Prologues, Prefaces and notes against the Papal Church was legally

sanctioned by the King. The ban that had held for one hundred and

thirty-five years against reading the Bible was lifted. But the Catholic

Archbishop's real purpose in getting the decree granted was, through

the last clause of the above instrument, to place the Bible henceforth

under complete control of the Bishops of the Church, and so it stands

to this day.




                 Archbishop Cranmer's next move was to

employ the translator Myles Coverdale, who had his Latin and English

translation printed in Paris and had skillfully kept his head from the

guillotine by catering to the wishes of whoever was in power, to remove

Tyndale's Index; Table of Principal matters (a concordance); all of his

heretical Prefaces, and Notes after every chapter. He removed

Tyndale's translation from the Greek New Testament and substituted it

for his own English translation from the Latin text he had printed

previously at Paris. This new Bible called "The Great Bible", the

Archibishop published under his own name in 1539. This translation was

REVISED by Archbishop Parker as the "BISHOP'S BIBLE", 1568, and again

by the Bishops in 1611 as the King James Royal Bible. The revisions were

made to conform to the language shift but the text always remained the

same: an English version of the Latin Vulgate, instead of the text of the

Greek Church brought into Europe by fleeing priests at the fall of

Istambul into the hands of the Turks.

(from the book New Light in an Old Lamp, 1963, by Joseph C. Bonner, who was a bible student in search of the origins of the bible versions).











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