Episode 125: The First English Bible

Many people are familiar with the King James Bible, but over two centuries earlier, an Oxford theologian named John Wycliffe produced the first Bible composed in the English language. Together with a group of close associates, he produced a Bible that was read throughout England. In this episode, we explore the events leading to this translation, and we also examine how the Wycliffe Bible impacted the English language.

11 thoughts on “Episode 125: The First English Bible

  1. I have enjoyed your podcasts, from episode one and all the way so far. Besides being interested in language, the information in this episode, and an earlier, #106, have a lot of information related to Bible editions I’ve seen at Nordisk bibelmuseum. https://nobimu.no/en/.
    Keep up the good work, Kevin 🙂

  2. I remember seeing a Victorian Bible in John Rylands Library in Manchester UK which was known as the “Wicked Bible” because it had a misprint in Exodus which read” THOU SHALT COMMIT ADULTERY”.

    This was another fascinating episode. Wyclif must be up there with Shakespeare as one of the greatest originators of new words. Like most “non-linguists” I had always assumed that Middle English had started about 1200 and hadn’t really changed until Shakespeare came along. To hear about how the language developed during the Middle English period has been a real eye-opener.

    Can’t wait for the next episode!

    • How can we be certain that they coined and introduced those terms, rather than simply being the first to record them, or maybe just the only ones whose record survived? Or perhaps they just popularized new words by recording them? And perhaps it’s a mix of all those and then some.

    • The Prologue to the revised version of the Wycliffe Bible explains how the translators poured through many different Latin manuscripts of the Bible. They found numerous scribal errors and had to determine the ‘correct’ version by comparing the various manuscripts. The implication was that scribal errors in the Bible were common. However, leaving out an occasional ‘not’ seems like it could be a big deal.

  3. Wow, excellent episode! I’ve enjoyed ALL the episodes and the thorough historical detail, but this one was extremely interesting! Thanks for putting together such a quality podcast!

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