[quote=cajun-catholic]A protestant friend of mine claims the Catholic chuch did not want the bible translated into english. He claims they fought it tooth and nail. They did not give in until they relized they could not stop it. At which point they did their own translation. Is this correct, and if so, why?
Thanks in advance for any insight.
This is quite a complex issue.
There were early translations into Anglo Saxon as Isidore has said above. Then there is a huge gap until Wycliffe in the 14th century.
The gap came for several reasons:
A) The Norman Conquest of England in 1066. This killed Anglo Saxon culture. The new ruling class spoke Norman French, not English, and it remained this way for 300 years. it was like a colonial situation. All official documents, courts, laws, took place in French. There were bible translations into Norman French after 1066, but NOT into English.
B) Most ordinary secular people before the 14th century could not read or write. Even Kings sometimes signed with Xs. Since few people who spoke only English could read, and those who COULD read also spoke Latin or French, there was no need or demand for a bible in English.
The church did not bar vernacular bible translations. There were translations into french, Italian german and other languages in this period. But at this time English was not a literate language.
C) Before printing, the cost of a hand written bible was enormous. An ordinary English-speaking peasant who wanted a bible would have had to sell his and his neighbour’s houses to approach the cost.
- Finally in the 14th Century, Wycliffe produced a bible translation into English. This was at a period when English was replacing French once more as the language of the upper classes. Unfortunately Wycliffe’s translation was probably the worst thing that could happen for the cause of bible translation into English.
It was a bad translation, quality-wise. And some of the translations were deliberately twisted in an anti-church fashion. The bible was used as a vehicle for teaching heretical views. It was therefore banned and led to a suspicion in the English Church after 1350 against people wanting to produce new translations.
New translations weren’t banned, so long as they were church-approved, but they received no encouragment from the English heirarchy from then until Tyndale.