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Well and truly translated : an exploration of the processes at work in Englishing the Bible from the seventh to the seventeenth century

By Lynne Long


This thesis aims to open up a new perspective an the\ud translation of the Bible into the vernacular. It offers the\ud idea that the first complete translation of the Bible into\ud English in the 1380's was not a sudden and short-lived\ud political gesture, but the natural progression of a process\ud which began in Anglo-Saxon times, continued through the\ud Middle Ages and culminated in the definitive 1611 version of\ud the English Bible.\ud It hopes to set the Englishing of the Bible into a linguistic\ud and literary context as well as a religious and political\ud one. It takes into account the problems of retrospective\ud assessment and the danger of attempting to impose modern\ud values on pre-conquest and medieval prose. The early\ud development of the vernacular from Bede to Aelfric begins the\ud study of the process of Englishing; the wealth of medieval\ud translations from the Conquest to Rolle continues it. The\ud inheritance of translation theory, the mystical tradition\ud and the theories of authority and authorship are discussed as\ud a background to the Wycliffite translation of the Bible.\ud The study of the progress of the vernacular at this point\ud becomes a study of the development of English prose and\ud includes an account of Pecock's works and the contemporary\ud perspective of Thomas More. The Humanist element comes into\ud sharper focus with a discussion of the rise of Greek studies\ud and of the effect of the redefinition of the source text in\ud the form of Erasmus's Greek New Testament.\ud William Tyndale's position as reformer and translator of the\ud scriptures is contrasted with that of the Wycliffites in\ud respect of available source texts, distribution in the form\ud of relatively inexpensive printed books and a literate\ud potential readership. The Englishing of the Bible after\ud Tyndale is traced through a process of editing, defining,\ud layering and expanding previous texts which culminated in the\ud production of the King James Bible of 1611

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