The First English Translation of the New Testament
[New Testament. Middle English, Wycliffite version].
Illuminated manuscript on vellum.
[England, c. 1400–25]. (Prothro B-281)
The first widely circulated English version of the Bible, this translation from the Latin is attributed to the anonymous followers of John Wycliffe (c. 1330–1384), an English reformer who rejected many Church rituals and institutions, preferring the scriptures as his sole authority. The popularity of the Wycliffite Bible grew rapidly despite the fact that it was outlawed in 1407 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who feared scriptural misinterpretation by lay readers, the erosion of clerical authority, and the propagation of heresy by unlicensed preachers. Illuminated on the first page and heavily annotated throughout, the Wycliffite New Testament is Bridwell Library’s earliest version of the Bible in English.