|The Wiclif Translation|
Although some people believe that John Wiclif did not translate the Scriptures, the contemporary historian, Henry Knighton, considered him as the first to open the Bible to laity. There have been assertions made, however, that an English version of the Bible existed prior to his time. Nevertheless, there appears to be no doubt that his was the first to have been published.
Wiclif translated from the Vulgate. He knew Latin, but he did not know Greek since the latter language had been neglected in western Europe. He adopted a principle that would leave his enemies no room to charge him with altering the Scriptures. This sometimes caused him to leave his translation unintelligible. His language was far more vernacular than that of Chaucer. From a literary standpoint, the translation has rich and glowing hues of poetic genius. There are variations from the Vulgate as the text of the latter had not been settled until near the end of the sixteenth century. Wiclif was not popular with the Church because the Bible was in Latin and was for only the clergy to read and to interpret.
The exact date of Wiclif's work is in question. However, scholars believe that it was commenced after 1378. The version used here is a part of the English Hexapla and is dated 1380. This volume was published by Samuel Bagster and Sons. No publication date is given, but it was prior to 1917 when it came to Southern Methodist University from a private library collection.
Leader Publishing Company (1976)
[Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas]
In the bigynnynge was the word and the word was at god, and god was the word, this was in the bigynnynge at god, alle thingis weren made bi hym: and withouten hym was made no thing.