Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Quest for the Historical John Wyclif

The following extended quotation is from John Wyclif: Myth and Reality by Gillian R. Evans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005):
No work in English which can be attributed with certainty to John Wyclif survives; nor is there any evidence that he actively got the work of translating the Bible into English under way or was even directly involved in it. Not a single "great book," or any book of lasting importance, bears his name. We can point to no quotation so memorable that it echoes down the years. He was not the only one among his contemporaries putting forward the particular arguments which came to be associated with his name and the only 'English freedom' he certainly fought for was the refusal to pay taxation decades overdue to the papacy from the kingdom of England; even there he was acting as one of a diplomatic mission and not as a solitary hero. It is not at all easy to say in the end what Wyclif's achievement was [243].

I haven't read the full book yet - I only just learned of it from a book review by James A. DeJong in the Calvin Theological Journal (44:1, April 2009, 172-173). It seemed interesting enough, just from this quotation, to mention. Given the Protestant hagiography surrounding him, this foray into revisionist history opens up interesting questions about the early development of the English Bible.

Worth a look, certainly. What do you think?

1 comment:

thedave said...

Reminds me of Shakespeare.