The Earliest Advocates of the English Bible

The Texts of the Medieval Debate

Edited by Mary Dove

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ISBN: 9780859898522

Publication: November 24, 2010

Series: Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies

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One of the major debates in English cultural, literary and religious history concerned whether or not the Bible should be translated into English. Underlying this was the question of whether people who were literate in English but not Latin should be able to read for themselves the book regarded as uniquely holy and authoritative. This debate took place c. 1380-1410, during and immediately after the composition of the first English (‘Wycliffite’) Bible. The Middle English texts edited in this book all argue on the same side of the debate, that is, that there should be a Bible in English, but they include arguments put forward on the other side, in order to refute them.

The late Mary Dove was Professor in the School of English at the University of Sussex. This edition builds on her well-received monograph of 2007: The First English Bible: The Text and Context of the Wycliffite Versions

INTRODUCTION: • discusses the context and significance of the debate about the English Bible • outlines the contents, authorship, date and manuscript tradition of the texts in this edition • considers the extent to which the texts may be seen as Wycliffite, and the interplay of orthodoxy and non-orthodoxy in the Bible debate and in pre-1409 England. TEXTS: 1. The Prologue to the Wycliffite Bible 2. The Prologue to Isaiah and the Prophets 3. Twelve tracts advocating translation in Cambridge University Library Ii. 6. 26 4. First seiþ Bois 5. The holi prophete Dauid 6. Glossed Gospel prologues and epilogues 7. ‘In þe bigynnyng of Holi Chirche’ 8. Pater Noster II The texts are an accurate representation of the base manuscript, with modern punctuation. Significant variants are recorded in the apparatus. The commentary focuses on elucidating context and meaning; textual and linguistic questions will be addressed where they affect meaning. Where the literal meaning may not immediately be clear to a reader moderately familiar with Middle English, translational glosses is provided alongside the text. There is also a short glossary and an index of biblical quotations and of non-biblical sources.

The texts are admirably edited. ... in the clarity of its presentation and a generous use of space, this is a most user-friendly volume (on the same lines as Exeter’s excellent The Idea of the Vernacular: An Anthology of Middle English Literary Theory 1280-1520, published in 1999). It is one of the most useful I have come across for some time—the sort that prompts the question, why has this not been done before? It should become an essential sourcebook for future work on the Bible in English in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and is a fitting tribute to a fine scholar, who died with so much more still to give.
Richard Marsden   The Medieval Review, 12.05.15

For almost all these texts, Dove represents the first complete, published critical edition; moreover, the edition is exceptionally easy to use, with text, glosses and biblical references, and apparatus appearing side-by-side on each page.
J. Patrick Hornbeck   Ecclesiastical History, Volume 63/3

Il contributo di Mary Dove è di straodinario interesse, per l’accuratezza della documentazione e per l’ampiezza del contest studiato.
  Nuova Informazione Bibliographia 9.1

This is an important body of texts that needs to be available in a convenient modern format. These materials are of fundamental significance for the English debate about translation of religious materials into the vernacular in the early fifteenth century. ,
Vincent Gillespie  
J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language, University of Oxford

Format: Hardback

Size: 246 x 173 mm

304 Pages

ISBN: 9780859898522

Publication: November 24, 2010

Series: Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies

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