From: Religious Context 16th Century Bible Translation               Return to Home            

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.                               © 2016










Chapter Five:

Bible Translation as a Focus for Conflict



            The doctrines of the Roman church were under vigorous challenge from the reformers throughout the sixteenth century.  But important as these specific controversies were, there was a far more pivotal one.  It was one on which even many tradition-inclined Catholics were ready and willing to depart from the official English church policy.  That was over the propriety of vernacular Bible translations.  Other countries had them, why not England?  Even in certain countries ruled by staunchly Catholic rulers they were available.  Was not England due at least as much?

            The reformers latched onto this issue with a passion.  It was one that they intensely believed in.  The scriptures were to be the new grounds on which religious faith was to be constructed.  To keep it away from the people was to deny them the redemptive message that could save their souls.  Furthermore, they were certainly aware that it was one of those issues on which substantial numbers of the orthodox felt considerable sympathy.  They could have access to the ancient pagan writers of the early centuries.  Why couldn’t they have those of the first century Christians who wrote the New Testament as well? 

            Yet the English clergy fought a delaying action to prevent this from occurring, thereby proving to the reformers that the clerics desired to suppress the truth.  After all, they were not contesting some specific contentious religious issue, but the very right of the people to have access to the word of God in a form they could comprehend.  

In our own age in which a number of reliable versions are readily available (and, alas, more than a few that make one cringe) this seems incomprehensible.  Hence to truly understand the religious controversies of the age, we must analyze why the two sides felt the way they did on this fundamental premise.  What were the theoretical and practical reasons they took their respective approaches?  For--better or worse--the ready availability of vernacular scripture came to be viewed as the test case of the triumph of reform or, in the case of its suppression, the triumph of orthodoxy.      




The Anti-Vernacular Case



            The anti-vernacular view remained deeply entrenched in the religious establishment as the new native language translations began to appear.  For example, a priest in Kent insisted that “he had rather that all the New Testaments in England were burned that he would buy any or look upon any.”[1]  One residing in Wincanton spoke of “these new-fanged fellows which read the new books, for they be heretics and knaves and Pharisees.”[2]  A third such individual, this one also from Kent, warned others to avoid reading the new translations ever--“ever” as stretching even to the proverbial doomsday.[3]    

In 1538 Cranmer received a report from Lord Fytzwarren as to a behind-the-scenes effort of certain priests in Salisbury to crush English language Bible reading.  These priests took advantage of their authority in the confessional to bind upon the people that they no longer read such works.[4] 

            Even the translation of extracts of the scripture--such as the Lord’s Prayer--met with general opposition from the church establishment.[5]  A few works edged up to the barrier:  The Meditations Vitae Christi was issued in English by Nicholas Love.  This was an expository treatment of a harmony of the four gospels.[6]  Paraphrases of selected texts (such as of Job and certain Psalms) were also permitted in the vernacular.[7]  But these were paraphrases and not translations; a paraphrase is what an individual thinks the text rightly implies; a translation is what the text actually states.

            English language primers of the faith were, upon occasion, authorized in the early sixteenth century.  Even so, in the years that followed, the possession of such works opened one to the suspicion of being unorthodox.[8]  The only safe language was Latin, which only the educated elite could read.

            A substantial section of lay opinion backed the clerics on the issue.  In the late 1530s, George Constantine bemoaned the unwillingness of clerics and populace alike to utilize English language prayers and scripture, “Who is there, almost, that will have a Bible, but he must be compelled thereto?  How lot be our priests to teach the commandments, the articles of Faith, and the Patter nosier in English!  Again, how unwilling be the people to learn it!  Yea, they jest at it, calling it the new Patter nosier and New Learning.”[9] 



The Favoring of Native Language

Translations by Heretics



            The anti-vernacular sentiment was fueled by a number of factors.  One obvious one was the direct connection between heresy and the Lollards.   The strength of the Lollards at the beginning of the Reformation is unknown and has been the subject of much discussion and debate.  Regardless of their actual numbers, they were the perpetual “bogeyman” that haunted the thoughts of the militant orthodox.  The Lollard’s commitment to the circulation, in manuscript, of Wycliffe’s translation tainted with the specter of heresy the very first major attempt to translate the Bible into English.[10] 

            Luther was a convenient and prominent foreign nemesis on which to blame the unsettled religious condition of 1520s.  In contrast, the Lollards provided a convenient domestic one. 

            From the English standpoint, as Bishop Tunstall wrote to Reassume in 1523, there was a clear relationship between the two.  Luther had not truly invented a new heresy, it was more a matter of foreign thought giving expression to preexisting domestic ideas and the never fully silenced Lollard heresy, “There is no question of some perilous novelty.  It is only that new arms are being added to the great band of Wyclifite heretics.”[11]  It was a logical accusation because the Lollards had been the most important heretical movement prior to the Reformation[12] and since the two had certain key similar doctrines.  Hence it was quite natural to view the German reformer as merely a variant of an old English deviance.      

            Those who opposed the repression of the text mocked the heresy equals Bible reading correlation, however.  Philip Nichols stressed in 1547 that the attitude contradicted that recorded in the scriptures themselves, “. . . [W]hat life can they be unto us if they be kept from us, so that we know them not?  Did Moses hide them away, and say they would ‘make men heretics’?”[13] 

Likewise the attitude was denounced as crude self-serving logic upon the part of the clergy.  Hence Nichols could proclaim in 1549, “This blindness have they hitherto kept you in by shutting up the scripture from you. . . .  If they might likewise have the scriptures plucked out of all Englishmen’s hands, indeed it would be easy for them to reign as they lust.”[14] 



Clerical Lack of Confidence in

Their Exegetical Ability



            Another reason for the on-going hostility lay in the lack of knowledge of the scriptural text among the majority of clerics.  Even if they were well versed in Catholic theology (and a goodly number were not), neither their training nor the expectations of their superiors, nor that of most of their parishioners demanded that they be equally knowledgeable in handling the Biblical text.  Hence when individuals and movements arose that demanded the ability to effectively analyze its meaning and application, it required of them new standards that had not previously been essential. 

Human nature is normally resistant to change, especially when it requires movement in a direction very different from what has previously been expected.  Especially is this true when it requires agility in an area where one possesses little expertise.

            Closely related to this is the fact that the ability to handle well the scriptural writings typically went hand-in-hand with the ability to present it publicly in sermon form.  The clerics of the day were notoriously unable to do so.  And this was an on-going problem whether one were pro-Rome or pro-Henry in the disputes that gripped the sixteenth century church. 

A case from the latter faction is especially interesting.  The Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, had no objection to the doctrine of royal supremacy over the church.  He did, however, have a difficulty with the royal decree that he preach in favor of it.  It was not that he was ashamed to do so; rather “I was never heretofore in [the] pulpit.”[15]  Weakness in exegesis combined with weakness in oratory combined to make the clergy suspicious of any movement that required skill in either area.



Lack of Knowledge and Interpretive Skill

in the Reading Public  



            Another grounds for denying the masses the Bible in a language they could read, was that they could not truly understand it even if it were provided--they simply lacked the intellectual background and training to do so.  Even under the militant reformer-king Edward, a rector in Kent insisted to one of his parishioners, “you oughteth not to read it [the Bible], it doth pass your capacity, it is fit for such men as be learned.”[16]  Although clerics were more likely to be “learned” (or at least relatively so) as contrasted to the population at large, many of them fell short on this score as well.  If consistently applied, it would have denied the scriptures not only to the bulk of laypeople but to many clerics as well. 

            One vicar in the same reign was accused of declaring from the pulpit “that no layman ought to dispute, teach or hold opinion in the Gospel except a Master of Arts or a spiritual man admitted by the ordinary.”[17]  Essentially what this meant was that a person ought to be very learned to analyze the scriptures--except, of course, for those clerics given permission to do so without being learned.

            Although we read of, throughout these decades, various laypeople seeking and even demanding the right to study the vernacular scriptures, the accusation of intellectual inability was sufficiently valid, that it presumably hit close to home to many who were interested in exercising the right.  One would expect, however, that it goaded them to an even more strenuous effort to overcome their limitations. 

It also provided--for others--a ready made excuse for not wanting to even try.  The Book of Homilies issued under King Edward referred to the hesitancy of some to study the scriptures because of the feeling that “the hardness thereof is so great, that it is meet to be read only by clerks and learned men.”[18] 

            Bishop Stephen Gardiner was even convinced that just knowing the Apostles’ Creed was adequate for the vast majority of the population; it contained “knowledge sufficient” for “rude and unlearned wits.”  In contrast “discussion of the Scriptures requires God’s further gifts of erudition and learning.”[19]  Although not aimed at scripture translations per se, this line of criticism has an obvious application to them.

            It is easy enough for our generation to dismiss such attitudes because most of us are literate, have been for many years, and have tested our intellectual skills against a wide variety of subjects.  But the gullibility of millions is obvious from the popularity of the periodicals on sale at every supermarket checkout stand.  The ability of even the strangest and most outlandish of theories to gain hundreds if not thousands of supporters is an earmark of the ending of the twentieth century.  If we find it hard to have a society that will actually utilize literacy in a constructive manner, perhaps we should be more sympathetic for those fearing a new era where a major literate marketplace of ideas was finally coming into existence for the first time.    




Alleged Mistranslations in the

Local Language Translations



            Some traditionalists attempted to find a middle ground by opposing certain specific Bible translations while claiming to find nothing wrong with the concept of such projects.  For example, much as Sir Thomas More ripped into particular word choices selected by Tyndale, More still affirmed the propriety of English translations.  He repudiated the common clerical assumption that English was inadequate for the task, “For as for that our tongue is called barbarous is but a fantasy.  For so is, as every learned man knoweth, every strange language to other[s].  And if they would call it barren of words, there is no doubt but it is plenteous enough to express our minds in anything whereof one man hath use to speak with another.”[20] 

Having denied the premise many of the traditionalists began with, he more than redeemed himself by the intensity of his criticism of the work Tyndale had produced.  However proper a vernacular translation might be in the abstract, Tyndale had failed terribly at his task.  Or so More claimed. 

            The criticism zeroed in on alleged cases where a poor, inadequate, or incorrect word or phrase had been used.  Most of these were overstated.  Such objections point to a very real potential philosophical problem with new translations, however:  their use of new or unexpected word choices meant that the text could now carry meanings and connotations previously unrecognized. 

            Hence when a new rendering is adopted there is the very real possibility that a modification of traditional understanding will occur.  If this is true when the translator(s) are recognizedly “orthodox,” the suspicions of both the intent and the result are magnified when the reviser(s) are suspected or branded heretics. 

            Furthermore, Tyndale himself was vehemently accused of corrupting the true meaning of the text in his translation.[21]  Later translations were also vigorously criticized on this ground and, in turn, lengthy critiques were written defending the changes.  Although some criticisms possessed varying degrees of validity (after all, there has never been a perfect translation), in retrospect some of the negativism appears particularly extreme.  For example, we can point to the rebuke of those who insisted on substituting “love” for “charity,” “repentance” for “penance” and “elders” for priests.[22] 

            The basic problem went far deeper than mere “unauthorized” and potentially “eccentric” translations.  The root problem was the refusal of the organized church to publish its own vernacular translation--preferably an easily read one that avoided the ecclesticalisms that sprinkled clerical (but not popular) thought.  It is hard to fight “something” (even if inadequate) with “nothing” and that was the situation the church found itself in in opposing English versions in the sixteenth century.          



Suspicion of Any Underlying Text

Other Than the Latin Vulgate



            English church clerics in particular--and the Continental European ones also--often felt very insecure about any departure from the Vulgate Latin in any language.  Erasmus’ pioneering Greek text was vigorously criticized (as was his Latin translation work) for its departures from the Vulgate readings.  Of the former he himself wrote,[23]


I did my best with the New Testament, but it provoked endless quarrels.  Edward Lee [Archbishop of York] pretended to have discovered 300 errors.  They appointed a commission, which professed to have found bushels of them.  Every dinner table rang with the blunders of Erasmus.  I required particulars and could not have them. 


            Erasmus' Greek New Testament, the Novum instrumentum (referred to in the quotation above) represented a breakthrough merger of Renaissance and Biblical thinking in its efforts to establish a reliable Greek text from the manuscripts currently available.  The fact that it was the first of its kind, established it a respected place in both Renaissance and Biblical scholarship.  The fact that the manuscripts utilized in the study were limited in number did not count anywhere near as much as the fact that they were compared and evaluated as to what seemed to be the best available documented textual reading.         

Although later generations carried the task far beyond anything Erasmus could possibly have dreamed, he created the precedent for the effort and demonstrated its practicality.  Furthermore, he provided a contemporary translation of the text in a parallel column.  True it was not in any vernacular, but its Latin was the international language of contemporary scholarship and, therefore, served a useful function in assisting would-be translators who considered undertaking native language efforts. 

            From the standpoint of appearance and ease of usability, Erasmus’ Greek Testament had severe difficulties.  The cursive fount for the Greek was a hard to read one.  Fundamental tools of arrangement (running titles at the top of the page, chapter divisions, verse divisions) were not present.  Variant reading notations (as to which manuscripts provided a different reading) were not included.  When the second edition appeared in 1527, the Vulgate was given in a third column and, at last, chapter numbers were printed in the margin.[24]  

            Both editions contained a lengthy series of what he called “Annotations.”   In these he takes some word, or phrase, or thought found in the Latin, provides what additional information can be obtained from the Greek, and proceeds to sermonize as to useful moral and ethical lessons that might be deduced from the text.  (Ultimately, as these grew longer and longer, they were published separately.) 

Both the fact that the “Annotations” are based on the Latin and utilize the Greek only for supplemental data--as well as the quick inclusion of the Vulgate in the second edition--indicate that Erasmus was not interested in either establishing a Greek text as an end in itself or as the basis of vernacular translations.  Rather, his aim was to correct the mistakes found in the Vulgate.  This would create a more accurate text for advanced, international scholarly analysis and debate but would have no direct impact upon the people at large.[25]  Not that he was opposed to such efforts, they were simply not the thrust he was aiming at in this endeavor.  

            Erasmus’ Latin translation produced widespread outrage, especially as it was revised in later editions further away from the reading found in the Vulgate.  Both Erasmus’ Greek text and his Latin version were tools useful to vernacular translators, however.  Indeed, four printings of Tydnale's 1534 translation of the New Testament (1538, 1548, 1549, 1550) are bilingual ones.  Tyndale's English is in one column and Erasmus' Latin translation was in another.[26] 

            If one could not please the more extreme traditionalists when dealing with a Greek text (which few from the general population could comprehend at all), it is hardly unanticipated the explosive reaction of such individuals when faced with vernacular English translations that the masses could read!  Or, at least, understand when it was read to them.  (Illiteracy still being dominant.)

            The willingness of humanists to embrace such alterations on the grounds of greater accuracy and understandability did little or nothing to dissolve the equation of “Bible translation equals heresy” that was so often the unspoken fear of the traditionalists.  If anything, it provided additional evidence that the humanists themselves were emitting the foul odor of unorthodoxy if not outright heresy.

            Erasmus pointedly insisted that he longed for the day when all the people--including husbandmen, weavers, and travelers--might have ready access to such a  version.[27]  Hence Tyndale and his successors were walking in a solid humanist tradition in their crusade for vernacular translations.[28]  To the obstructionists it did not matter; it was potential heresy regardless of the source.   




Fear that Vernacular Efforts

Implied the Superiority of

Scripture over Church Tradition



            Finally, there was the deep-rooted suspicion by many that fighting on the ground of scriptural authority was one that was foredoomed to defeat:  The church was the true church of God but its doctrines were far more founded upon tradition rather than upon any clear precedent of scripture. 

At times the sentiment slipped out in ways guaranteed to inflame the convictions of the reformers.  In October 1553 Prolocutor Weston delivered a sermon at Pauls Cross in which he concluded that the rights and wrongs were essentially irrelevant, “You have the Word but we have the sword.”[29]  As a statement of practical reality that was quite true, but to those who disagreed with his doctrines of Catholicism it was the most dangerous of admissions concerning the lack of a rooting in the scripture of traditional religion.         

            The type of arguments encountered by those who took advantage of the 1538 royal requirement that Bibles be installed in the church, reveals the mind frame of those opposed to permitting such public reading.  John Hamon wrote Thomas Cromwell in late 1538 of the hostility he was receiving from the parish’s priest for public reading of the text,[30]


The cause is for looking on the word of God the Bible.  He cannot abide the sight of it, nor them that read it, nor them that hear it read.  He says in his sermons that the letter killeth, that none can understand it without counsel from the learned.  The clergy hate it and teach the parishioners to hate it.  They speak of it as “a green learning that will fade away” or as “the book of Arthur Cobbler.”  Last Ladyday some of them set the constable on me, when I was “reading of the gospel in English,” and warned me to leave my reading since I drew others to listen:  for “it were better that they prayed on their beads than thus to come about you.”  


            It came down to a question of whether the scriptures would be read as a means of applying Catholicism or as a tool to test its legitimacy.   Theoretically one could take either of the two attitudes into one’s private Bible reading and study.  One could utilize it to test the teachings and practice of Catholicism or one could take the teachings of the Roman church for granted and, based upon that assumption, seek out the lessons and principles from scripture that would deep one’s personal faith. 

            Hence the Bible could be used to either challenge one’s Catholicism or to strengthen it.  Sir Thomas More feared that the former would dominate if vernacular Bible reading were to become widespread.  He feared that individuals[31]


will not unto the study of scripture take the points of the Catholic faith as a rule of interpretation but . . . study to seek in scripture whether the faith of the church be true or not, [so] he can not fail to fall in worse errors and fall [into] more jeopardy than any man can do by philosophy whereof the reasons and arguments in matters of our faith have nothing in like authority.  


            The fear that the scriptures would be used as determinative text rather than edificationional literature, was enhanced by the emphasis that reformers put upon the authoritative nature of the scriptures.  In such individuals, the thrust for vernacular translations arose from the conviction that the Bible both could and must definitively settle for the reader his or her moral questions and the religious issues that would be faced in life. 

            There was a long tradition in Catholicism, however, that, standing alone, the Bible was incapable of doing any such thing.  We might cite the example of Bishop John Fisher (who was ultimately executed by Henry for opposition to the king’s divorce) as representative of those who argued the impracticality of relying on the scriptures alone.  Writing in his De Unica Magdalena, he asked, “Are the scriptures really so clear, that we have no need of commentators or interpreters to help us understand them?  If so, then whence arise such varied interpretations?”[32] 

            When one embraced this approach, there was obviously no pressing need for vernacular versions.  Indeed, they could easily be viewed as encouraging needless dissension and conflict since it was beyond the capacity of the readers to rightly utilize what they were reading.




Non-Clerical Support for the Approach



            One would be ill-advised to believe that it was strictly a case of clergy versus parishioners.  In certain regions of the country, many of the common folk of the day would support suppression if they were convinced that it was the only way to root out divisive heresy.  Hence when the South-West went into revolt in 1549 the rebels demanded, “We will have the Bible, and all books of scripture in English, to be called in again; for we be informed that otherwise the clergy shall not of long time confound the heretics.”[33]  The wording, however, betrays the fact that the demand came not from the rebels themselves but from the clergy and that the rebels were supporting it because the clergy felt the measure was essential.

            Sometimes clerics encouraged laypeople to adopt such restrictive policies on the grounds that the scriptures themselves demanded such.  The admonition in Matthew 7:6 to not give that which is holy to dogs and not to throw pearls before swine was interpreted as proof that the masses should not be given any translation of the scriptures in their own language.  With this text in mind, one rector preached that God “hath given a straight commandment to all such as be preachers of his holy laws . . . to preach not the holy gospels unto such men as hath poison.”[34]  It is hard to know whether to criticize this as incredibly inappropriate exegesis or to condemn it upon ground of excitement to riot due to the degree of its insult at the listening audience. 




The Pro-Vernacular Case



            The pro vernacular advocates were also encouraged by a combination of motives.  One was to prove the established church in mortal error.  The power of the church being so great and the practices rejected seemingly so long established, one had to bring to bear an equal and, preferably, superior power.  That was the Bible. 

            Those asserting its ultimate definite power, appealed to it as an outside “third party” that could be introduced to judge whether current practices and beliefs were in conformity with those held in the first century.  True, any discrepancies could partly be answered by an appeal to “tradition.”  On the other hand, the need to appeal to such raised inevitable suspicions as to self-serving motives and the rebuttal that if the tradition were truly that ancient why was the church tradition at variance with the scriptural tradition? 

            Hence the appeal to scripture set established religious authority on the defensive when there were apparent disagreements.  And like any institution, those who led it did not like to be on the defensive, further encouraging an anti-vernacular frame of mind. 

            In addition, the scriptures (especially if one were discussing just the New Testament) was a relatively modest size volume that an individual could intellectually digest.  Furthermore, by being in a printed form, one could easily compare the text with what was being claimed and make one’s own judgment as to whether traditionalists or reformers was correct in their understanding of the contents. 

             Obviously there was far more to the pro vernacular movement that proving the church wrong.  If that had been all there had been, orthodox clerics and laypeople would never have viewed such efforts with favor.  Hence these additional reasons deserve to be stressed to understand why even a growing number of devout traditionalists could accept the need for English language versions. 

Key here is the conviction that from the standpoint of practicality, a knowledge of the scriptures is essential to provide the guidelines of conduct for the human race.  Admittedly, it might come either directly (from the study of the text) or indirectly (from teaching by the church).  On the other hand, since the church claimed to be conveying that message, what inherent problem could there be if one heard it in its clearest and most immediate form through an encounter with the text itself?

            In his “Prologue” to the Great Bible, Cranmer presented the argument in this fashion for the personal value and importance of an understanding of the scriptures,[35] 


Wherefore, in few words to comprehend the largeness and utility of the scripture, how it containeth fruitful instruction and erudition for every man. . . .  Herein may princes learn how to govern their subjects; subjects obedience, love and dread to their princes; husbands, how they should behave them unto their wives; how to educate their children and servants:  and contrary the wives, children, and servants may well know their duty to their husbands, parents and masters.

Here may all manner of persons, men, women, young, old, learned, unlearned, rich, poor, priests, laymen, lords, ladies, officers, tenants, and mean men, virgins, wives, widows, lawyers, merchants, artificers, husbandmen, and all manner of persons, of what estate or condition soever they be, may in this book learn all things what they ought to believe, what they ought to do, and what they should do, as well concerning Almighty God, as also concerning themselves and all others.  Briefly, to the reading of the scripture none can be enemy, but that either be so sick that they love not to hear of any medicine, or else that be so ignorant, that they know not scripture to be the most healthful medicine.


            Hence some went to the scriptures for vindication of their spiritual agenda.  Others went to it out of the desire to become spiritually mature.  A third motivation was the conviction that the scriptures themselves demanded readers, indeed required an understanding of their contents and adherence to their precepts.

In an interesting gloss on a scriptural passage, Cranmer introduces this theme in an August 1537 letter to Cromwell praising the Great Bible and stressing the value of the completed work.  As he sees it, Cromwell will receive praise in the final day of judgment for having gained approval for the circulation of the translation,[36]


For our Saviour Christ saith in the said gospel, that whosoever shrinketh from him and his word, and is bashed to profess and set it forth before men in this world, he will refuse him at that day; and contrary, whosoever doth profess him and his word, and studieth to set that forward in this world, Christ will declare the same at the last day before his Father and all his angels, and take upon him the defence of those men.


            In a different context, Cranmer stressed that to understand the worship, most people must hear it in their native tongue.  Again, he appeals to the scriptural text to establish his point.[37]  Yet if the scriptures require the worship to be in an understandable language, the same line of reasoning inevitably leads to the conclusion that the scriptural text also needs to be in such a language.  Indeed, is required to be.

            In unleashing the scriptures in a form that the typical citizen could have access to, the pro-vernacular forces had done far more than merely inconvenience the Roman church.  They had introduced a readily usable standard of authority that could be used to analyze, critique, and even reject their own conclusions and practices as well. 

In the chapters that follow we will find that this was the case.  The claim that one accepted the authority of the church had not prevented religious disagreements, disputes, and divisions in previous centuries.  Now--to the disappointment of the reformers themselves and the glee of their traditionalist foes--it was discovered that the claim for a scripture based standard would not prevent schism either.






[1] As quoted by Haigh, “Introduction,” 13.  


[2] Ibid.


[3] Ibid.       


[4] Richard Rex, “The New Learning,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 44 (January 1993):  35-36.


[5] Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, 79.


[6] Ibid.


[7] Ibid., 80.


[8] Ibid., 213.


[9] As quoted by Rex, “The New Learning,” 36.


[10] The subject of whether there were earlier translations before Tyndale (other than that of Wycliffe) has itself been a topic of much controversy.  For a brief discussion of the matter, see the comments accompanying the text of Sir Thomas More’s assertion (1528) that such Bibles existed, in my volume Bible Translations:  A History through Source Documents (Jefferson, North Carolina:  MacFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1992), 66-68; cf. 68-70. 


[11] As quoted by Lewis Lupton, Tyndale:  The Translator, Volume 18 of A History of the Geneva Bible (London, England:  The Olive Tree, 1986), 70.


[12] Anonymous, “John Wyclife and the Lollards” ( margin/lollards.htm), AOL Netfind, September 15, 1997.       


[13] As quoted by Whiting, Blind Devotion of the People, 196.


[14] As quoted by Ibid., 164.   


[15] As quoted by Williams, Life in Tudor England, 142.


[16] As quoted by Marshall, 106.


[17] As quoted by Ibid.


[18] As quoted by Ibid.       


[19] As quoted by Peter Ibid.       


[20] As quoted by Eilean ni Chuilleanain, “The Debate between Thomas More and William Tyndale, 1528-33:  Ideas on Literature, and Religion,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 39 (July 1988):  390.


[21] A recent commentator who presents the previous paragraph’s sympathetic understanding of the Church’s dilemma is Jeffrey Hart, “Burn, Tyndale, Burn,” National View, October 13, 1997 (XLIX, no. 19), 74-76.  Inconsistent with the thrust of this argument is the concession that Tyndale, at least, did not play such games (76).  If one is to be accused of it even when one is not guilty (and Tyndale was), how much of the sixteenth century argument are we to take as sincere and how much as rationalization for other hostilities?


[22] In 1583 William Fulke published a lengthy defense of contemporary revision in his A Defence of the Sincere and True Translations of the Holy Scriptures into the English Tongue Against the Cavils of Gregory Martin (1583).   For extracts dealing with these three particular issues, plus two matters on which Protestant revisers were more open to legitimate criticism, see the extracts in my volume Bible Translations 81-83.


[23] As quoted by John Cereghin, In Defence of Erasmus (Collingswood, New Jersey:  The Bible for Today, [n.d.]), as reprinted at length at html, Magellan, August 31, 1997.  This site also contains lengthy extracts from Samuel C. Gipp’s “The Reformer, from his The Answer Book and David Otis Fuller’s “Desiderius Erasmus:  Renaissance Scholar” from his Which Bible?  


[24] For a discussion of the "negatives" of the stylistic appearance of the volume see Daniell, William Tyndale, 59-60.     

[25] For a useful analysis of Erasmus' intention see Ibid., 60.  He does not, however,  make any deductions as to the implications of this goal


[26] Ibid., 61.


[27] See the Preface to his Novum Instrumentum (March 1516) as quoted by Henry Barker, English Bible Versions (New York:  Edwin S. Gorham, Publisher, 1907), 89.


[28] Peter N. Brooks, “William Tyndale (?1494-1994):  A Quincentennial Tribute,” Expository Times 106 (October 1994): 14.


[29] As quoted by Lupton, Heaven, 58.


[30] As quoted by J. F. Mozley, Coverdale and His Bibles (London:  Lutterworth Press, 1953), 139.


[31] As quoted by  Haugaard, 21.


[32] As quoted by Richard Rex, “The Polemical Theologian,” in Humanism, Reform and the Reformation:  The Career of Bishop John Fisher (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1989), 116.


[33] As quoted by Whiting, Blind Devotion of the People, 194.


[34] As quoted by Marshall, 105.


[35] As quoted by Peter Newman Brooks, Cranmer in Context:  Documents from the English Reformation (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 1989), 44-45.


[36] As quoted by Ibid., 36.


[37] For a lengthy extract of his argument, see Ibid.