Wiclif’s Bible Honored By The Revision -- By: J. L. Ewell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 044:173 (Jan 1887)
Article: Wiclif’s Bible Honored By The Revision
Author: J. L. Ewell


Wiclif’s Bible Honored By The Revision

Rev. J. L. Ewell

It is not for a moment to be supposed that the latest revision of our English Bible is no improvement over its first translation. It is, however, surprising to find how often the wisdom of the nineteenth century has come back to the rendering of the wise master-builder of the fourteenth. Such returns take place in some very important passages, as well as in multitudes of less prominent instances. These returns are the more interesting because so nearly unintentional. The revisers, if I may judge from the personal letters of two prominent members, one of the Old Testament American committee, and the other of the New, did not make much use of Wiclif’s Bible, passing it by for the most part as a translation of a translation made a hundred and fifty years before our English Bible began with Tyndale.1

These returns are so frequent that one who would give a few specimens is at a loss which to select amongst so many. I will cite some from different portions of both Testaments. When our revisers changed “borrow” into “ask,” in Ex. 12:35, thereby relieving the Israelites from the implication of deceiving the Egyptians, they returned to Wiclif’s rendering. The change in Ex. 38:8, in the description of the donors of the mirrors from “assembling women which assembled” to “serving women which served,” brought back the reading nearer to Wiclif’s description of them, as those who “watchiden” (watched). In Lev. 16:21, Wiclif described the one who should lead the goat out into the wilderness as “a man alredy.” The King James speaks of him as “a fit man,” but

the revision returns substantially to the first translation and reads, “a man that is in readiness.” In Num. 6:20, the word “thigh” in the revision agrees with Wiclifs “hippe” rather than with the King James reading, “shoulder.” In Num. 23:28, the revision reading “desert” instead of a proper name, as in the King James, comes back very close to Wiclif, who makes Peor look out upon “the wilderness.”

When the revision, in Num. 24:3, shut Balaam’s eyes that the King James had left open, it went back to John Wiclif; and when, in Deut. 32:11, it represented the Almighty as spreading forth his wings, and not merely as being like a bird that does so, the new rendering...

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