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14th century


John Wycliffe inspired the first translation of the Bible into English, with Wycliffe himself primarily being responsible for work on the New Testament. This page is a photographic reproduction from a two-volume handwritten Wycliffe Bible made for Thomas of Woodstock (1355-1397), the youngest son of Edward III. This is the opening page of the Gospel of Luke; the first four verses are not included in Wycliffe’s translation, so Luke begins with 1:5. Luke 1:6 starts at the line under the illuminated initial letter in the left hand column.

Called the “Morning Star of the Reformation,” John Wycliffe was responsible for the first significant translation of the Scriptures into English. Born in the mid-1320s, Wycliffe spent many of his years arguing against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. Wycliffe was convinced in his day that there was a need to turn to the Scriptures as the primary rule of life. In order to do that, since the Scriptures of the Church of his day were in Latin, those Scriptures had to be translated into the common language of the day, which for him was English. So he and several of his colleagues began the translation work in the 1370s. The first Wycliffe New Testament appeared in 1382. Because Wycliffe lived nearly a century before Gutenberg invented the moveable-type printing press, all of his New Testaments and Bibles were hand-written manuscripts, produced one at a time. It took 10 months to reproduce one copy. His work created a thirst for the Bible in the language of the common man. That thirst led to the insatiable desire for Bible translations that came to being in England in the 16th century, starting with the translation work of William Tyndale and the first printed English New Testament in 1525.


University Special Collections

Digitization Date

March 18, 2022

Archives Collection

Bible Heritage Collection

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Photo Credit

Scott Huck

Screen Reader Description

Color photograph of a page from a manuscript Bible


Cedarville, Biblical Heritage Gallery, Wycliffe