Research in primary source documents. Furman University.

Images of The Wycliff New Testament

Summary description of the Wycliffe’s Translation, from the Wikipedia article:

Wycliffe’s Bible is the name now given to a group of Bible translations into Middle English that were made under the direction of, or at the instigation of, John Wycliffe. They appeared over a period from approximately 1382 to 1395. These Bible translations were the chief inspiration and chief cause of the Lollard movement, a pre-Reformation movement that rejected many of the distinctive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. In the early Middle Ages, most Western Christian people encountered the Bible only in the form of oral versions of scriptures, verses and homilies in Latin (other sources were mystery plays, usually conducted in the vernacular, and popular iconography). Though relatively few people could read at this time, Wycliffe’s idea was to translate the Bible into the vernacular, saying “it helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence”. Long thought to be the work of Wycliffe himself, it is now generally believed that the Wycliffite translations were the work of several hands. Nicholas of Hereford is known to have translated a part of the text; John Purvey and perhaps John Trevisa are names that have been mentioned as possible authors. The translators worked from the Vulgate, the Latin Bible that was the standard Biblical text of Western Christianity, and the text conforms fully with Catholic teaching. They included in the testaments those works which would later be called deuterocanonical by most Protestants, along with 3 Esdras which is now called 2 Esdras and Paul’s epistle to the Laodiceans. Although unauthorized, the work was popular. Wycliffite Bible texts are the most common manuscript literature in Middle English. Over 250 manuscripts of the Wycliffite Bible survive.

The Lichfield Cathedral’s manuscript of the Wycliffe New Testament dates from the late 1400s.

Editing the Manuscript

There are various online presentations of the digital imagery of this manuscript of the Wycliffe New Testament, most recently an image-browsing interface at the University of Kentucky. There is no systematic, scholarly treatment of this body of data that can be considered an “edition”, that is, a body of image, textual, and descriptive data that is subject to verification and that captures the semantic relationships that define any significant book.

Thanks to the Lichfield Cathedral, and particularly its former Canon Chancellor Pete Wilcox, and the University of Kentucky’s Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, who have provided access to these images under a Creative Commons License we are able not merely to browse through the images of the Wycliffe New Testament, but to work with them directly, documenting their contents.

This page contains a simple catalog of images, each linked to a dynamic view and to an “image citation tool” that allows the creation of canonical, machine-actionable citations to regions of interest, the first prerequisite for systematic editing of a manuscript.

Principal Editors

Editor Institution
C. Blackwell Furman University
B. Seales University of Kentucky
N. Smith College of the Holy Cross

Questions to:

This data is the result of research from the University of Kentucky under the leadership of Brent Seales during the summer of 2010, with the kind permission of the Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral and the generous cooperation of Canon Chancellor Pete Wilcox.

The digital images are Copyright 2010 The Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral and are made available for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License:

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. IIS–0535003, 0916148, & 0916421. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recomendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

A complete archive of the Lichfield data is available for browsing and direct downlad at the Homer Multitext Digital Archive, a resource provided by the University of Houston’s Center for High Performance Computing.

Transcription, editing, and indexing of this body of data is an ongoing collaborative project. The principal editor have been, to date:

Editor Institution
Tony Brown Furman University
Leah Eldar Furman University
Tucker Hannah Furman University
Hannah Pittman Furman University

List of Images