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A.D. wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have read from Catholic sources that there were Bibles in English before John Wycliff came up with his own English translation.

  • Is this true?

I tried to look it up, but all the information that I came upon pointed the fact that Wycliffe's was the first English Bible.

  • How does this work?
  • Why couldn't I find any old English Bible?

A.D.

  { Did John Wycliffe create the first English Bible? }

John replied:

Hi, A.D. —

Here's your answer from the first few paragraphs of this Wikipedia page. I suggest you go to the link and read the entire article. It gives a pretty complete history.

English translations of the Bible

Although John Wycliff is often credited with the first translation of the Bible into English, there were, in fact, many translations of large parts of the Bible centuries before Wycliffe's work. Toward the end of the 7th century, the Venerable Bede began a translation of scripture into Old English (also called Anglo-Saxon). Aldhelm (c. 639–709) translated the complete Book of Psalms and large portions of other scriptures into Old English.

In the 10th century an Old English translation of the Gospels was made in the Lindisfarne Gospels: a word-for-word gloss inserted between the lines of the Latin text by Aldred, Provost of Chester-le-Street. This is the oldest extant translation of the Gospels into the English language.

The Wessex Gospels (also known as the West-Saxon Gospels) are a full translation of the four gospels into a West Saxon dialect of Old English. Produced in approximately 990, they are the first translation of all four gospels into English without the Latin text.

In the 11th century, Abbot Ælfric translated much of the Old Testament into Old English. The Old English Hexateuch is an illuminated manuscript of the first six books of the Old Testament. The Old English Heptateuch is a version without lavish illustrations but including a translation of the Book of Judges.

The English Bible was first translated from the Latin Vulgate into Old English by a few select monks and scholars. Such translations were generally in the form of prose or as interlinear glosses (literal translations above the Latin words).

Very few complete translations existed during that time. Rather, most of the books of the Bible existed separately and were read as individual texts. Thus, the sense of the Bible as history that often exists today did not exist at that time. Instead, a more allegorical rendering of the Bible was more common and translations of the Bible often included the writer's own commentary on passages in addition to the literal translation.

No one is going to accuse Wikipedia of being a Catholic source. In fact, it's pretty neutral.

I hope this helps.

Under His Mercy

John DiMascio

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