Wycliffe Bible (WYC)

Version » Wycliffe Bible
Publisher Terence P. Noble
Testaments OT/NT

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Click to download the Introduction, Endnotes, and Conclusion.

The "Early Version" of the "Wycliffe Bible", hand-printed about 1382, has long been criticized by Bible historians as too literal, often unintelligible, cumbersome, at best a deeply flawed 1st attempt. In fact, much of the Gospels and the Apocalypse were transferred without significant change from the "Early Version" to the "Later Version", and closely resemble the "Wycliffe-Purvey" text.

However, it is also true that when the "Early Version" is directly compared to the "Later Version", the "Early Version" is, overall, a less satisfying read. It is not so finely tuned and contains many more italicized glosses which interrupt the flow. That is why hand-written variations of the "Later Version" became the foundation upon which the King James Version (KJV) was built. But, as was stated earlier, comparing all three versions side-by-side, it becomes clear that the KJV translators rejected numerous revisions made in the "Later Version", and chose instead individual words and phraseology found in one variant or another of the "Early Version". Why did they do this? Simply put, in countless passages of the "Early Version", both the poetry of the language and fidelity to the original Greek text are superior to that found in the "Later Version".

As the words contained within the square brackets in "Wycliffe-Purvey" readily demonstrate, the KJV translators repeatedly followed the "Early Version", rather than the "Later Version", in regard to prepositions ("the" in "EV" replaced by "a" in "LV"), verb forms (e.g., "saying" and "sitting" in "EV" replaced by "said" and "sat" in "LV"), and phrase order within a verse ("a/b/c" in "EV" rearranged into "b/a/c" in "LV").

But of greatest consequence are almost one hundred significant words that appear in the "Early Version", which were later copied in the KJV, but which are not found in the equivalent "Later Version" verses. Translation is an inexact science. A single word can often be rendered several ways (as the "Wycliffe" versions themselves amply demonstrate). Therefore these linguistic agreements between the "Early Version" and the KJV are meaningful. Examples include: "unction" ("anointing" in "LV"), "allegory" ("understanding" in "LV"), "mystery" ("private" in "LV"), "liberty" ("freedom" in "LV"), "captive" ("prisoner" in "LV"), "Caesar" ("emperor" in "LV"), "prize" ("reward" in "LV"), "wise men" ("astrologers" in "LV"), "veil" ("covering" in "LV"), "faith" ("unbelief" in "LV"), "concision" ("division" in "LV"), and "sand" ("gravel" in "LV"). These words, and many others, were first introduced into the English New Testament lexicon in the 1382 "Early Version" of the "Wycliffe Bible". More than two hundred years later, they were utilized again by the KJV translators.

Copyright Information

Wycliffe Bible Copyright © 2001 by Terence P. Noble. For Extensive Use, please email terry@smartt.com for further information.

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