Posts Tagged ‘John Wycliffe’

13 in 2013 – our year in highlights

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 by Hannah

It being the last day of the year and the anniversary of the death of our namesake John Wycliffe, it seems appropriate to think back. The things that God has done through Wycliffe and through Bible translation are so numerous, we felt a overwhelmed just at the thought!

So instead we’ll take just 13 highlights from 2013:

1. The Oku New Testament in Cameroon was launched. s it was read to one of the translator’s widows outside a morgue less that two weeks later, she said Reading this took away my tears.

2. We were encouraged by prayer as people all over the country met for Frontline Prayer, to intercede for the Bibleless around the world.

A man holds a New Testament (Papua New Guinea)

The Seimat New Testament, also in 2013

3. We learnt new things about Bible translation: 180 million people still need a Bible translation project to begin if they will ever have the Bible in their heart language.

If you wanted to count to 180 million (and remember, some of those numbers take a lot of saying out loud, like 154,763,972), it would take you just short of a decade.

4. But in other big numbers, we heard that there have been 110 million dowloads of the YouVersion Bible app, and not all in English. Ngiemboon language speaker Moise thought his app was ‘Wonderful!’

5. Life in the Central African Republic has been desperately difficult this year. Through Bible translation connections, we heard very sad and heroic stories from the frontline.

6. In late September, sign language specialists, partners DOOR International, launched Scripture in 5 languages simultaneously.

Fond farewells

7. Wycliffe said goodbye to the old homestead of 40 years, but learnt that home really is where the heart is:

The heart of Wycliffe is in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, the savannahs of Africa and among the nomads’ tents on the steppes of Asia.

8. Surprised by Maher-salal-hash-baz? We learnt that surprising Bible names are not as surprising as you might have thought.

9. We rejoiced when the entire Kaiwá Bible was launched. Translator Dorival said this:

‘And so when I think then that all of a sudden there’s going to be Genesis to Revelation, I feel really happy inside. It’s very good. It tastes good to see this happen. So I am jumping up and down with happiness because it is really beautiful, it is almost ready.’

10. Our director compared the Bible to Harry Potter, but is still convinced the Bible’s a better read.

11. Another whole Bible launch: the Sango Bible in Central African Republic. Although there was joy in the celebration, not all the distribution happened as the organisers had planned – the office was looted before the launch, and many Bibles turned up on market stalls.

12. On the rare topic of English Bible translations, we wondered about using the word ‘cripple’ in modern Bible translations, and Barbara (from the Scottish Churches Disability Agenda Group) shared her thoughts.

13. Three decades hasn’t dented the message of The JESUS Film – 40 people in Cheeia’s family have come to know Jesus through it only recently.

There is so much to celebrated – bring on 2014!

Remember, remember the 31st of December

Monday, December 31st, 2012 by Hannah

Who was it, on putting pen to paper, who first came out with the word ‘however’? What about ‘tradition’ or the very useful ‘Leviticus’ to designate the third book of the Bible in English?

John Wycliffe, Bible translatorToday we commemorate their coiner, John Wycliffe, although not for his word-creating skill. He was also (in case you were wondering) the first to use ‘costly’, ‘ceremonial’ and, so the Oxford English Dictionary says, a further 500+ words. Some include the now sorely missed ‘hornen’ (made of horn), ‘holet’ (a small hole) and ‘wlatsomeness’ (disgust). A surprising number of entries in a dictionary for a man who couldn’t seem to spell his own name.*

Of course, he did things that are more notable. Wycliffe headed up the first complete translation of the Bible into English. And now, 600 years after his death, workers are starting new Bible translations under his name.

A Tongan family

The Lalahi family: Tevita, Luseane, John Wycliffe and baby Penisimani.

In fact, one very young man in Tonga is a living reminder Wycliffe’s work. His mum and dad are leading the Tongan Bible translation organisation, and have named him John Wycliffe: ‘He reminds us of our goal,’ Dad says. ‘Whenever we look at him we remember – Bible translation.

Today, on the anniversary of his death, we remember John Wycliffe the elder and are thankful for the Bible translation work he has inspired around the world. You can read more about John Wycliffe the younger’s parents and how they got inspired in this post.

Remember: there is still a lot of Bible translation to be done. Be part of giving the Bible.

*There are 28 different recorded spellings of ‘Wycliffe’.

Unable to escape the call

Monday, August 27th, 2012 by Hannah

‘People are shocked! They don’t know there are still lots and lots of people without the Bible in their language.

Despite living in a predominantly Christian country, a country whose only indigenous language already has a complete Bible translation, Tevita Lalahi is passionate about Bible translation. He is the head of the new Bible Translation Organisation of Tonga.

‘It’s really hard to get out of [this calling],’ he explains. Tevita shared how he tried to become a pastor and pursue a PhD, but God had other plans.

‘I know that God really put this in my heart,’ he declares. […]

Before leaving his home country to serve God as a Bible translator, Tevita resolved to find a wife. He talked with various women about his vision, but no one was interested. Then he prayed and asked God to send the right woman. In 2007 he met Luseane, a young Tongan woman with long dark hair, at church in Fiji. Luseane, whose father is also a pastor, was completing a post-graduate degree in science at the University of the South Pacific.

Luseane never dreamed of living outside her home country, but she and Tevita kept praying and talking about it. One day she said to Tevita, ‘Wherever you go, I will follow you.’ Later that year they married in a small ceremony in Fiji.

Luseane now works full time as a secondary science teacher to support their ministry. She smiles as she talks about their youngest son who is six months old. ‘We wish that our children will grow up to be involved in God’s work. That’s why we named our baby John Wycliffe.

Read more about Tevita, Luseane and the work they are doing to encourage Bible translation from Tonga at

If the thought of millions of people without any Christian witness or a single verse of Scripture speaks to you like it did to Tevita, find out how you could be involved in Bible translation.

The journey starts here…

Saturday, December 31st, 2011 by Hannah

John Wycliffe, a fourteenth-century scholar, is credited with the first complete translation of the Bible into any modern European language. While many had translated portions into Old and Middle English, Wycliffe’s translation is the first complete English Bible.

His work was opposed by the organised church at the time. The concept of a Bible accessible to the common man was so vile that, in response, Bible translation was declared an act of heresy, and his body was burnt as punishment… 43 years after he died.

Wycliffe translated the New Testament almost entirely alone from the Latin Vulgate (no one in the fourteenth century learnt Greek). Every copy had to be handwritten, with each Bible taking up to a year to produce. But, by 1408, even reading a copy was punishable by death.

Why did he bother?

“Holy Scriptures is the faith of the Church, and the more widely its true meaning becomes known the better it will be. Therefore since the laity should know the faith, it should be taught in whatever language is most easily comprehended… [After all,] Christ and His apostles taught the people in the language best known to them.” From a sermon by Wycliffe.

A lot has changed since Wycliffe’s work. Today, hundreds of versions of the Bible exist in English. In fact, there are as many English translations as there are languages with a complete Bible. And there are more than 2,000 with no Scripture at all.

Wycliffe’s death was more than 600 years ago today, but Bible translation is not 600-year-old history. Give the Bible: the Story everybody needs.

John Wycliffe: c. 1328 – 1384

Friday, December 31st, 2010 by Hannah

For God louede so the world, that he ȝaf his oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf. *

Today commemorates the 626th anniversary of the death of John Wycliffe.  He believed that ‘it helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence’.

He was adamant that the Scriptures should be read in the mother-tongue of all people, as it had been for the original hearers:

You say it is heresy to speak of the Holy Scriptures in English. You call me a heretic because I have translated the Bible into the common tongue of the people. Do you know whom you blaspheme? Did not the Holy Ghost give the Word of God at first in the mother-tongue of the nations to whom it was addressed?

So, he and his team, translated the whole Bible into the common English of the time.  Every word was written by hand.

Wycliffe suffered fierce opposition.  Even after his death, great hatred towards his work continued, leading the Church to declare Scripture translation a heresy in 1412.  To suffer the punishment due to heretics, Wycliffe’s remains were recovered and burnt in 1428 (44 years after his death)!

Over 600 years after Wycliffe’s death, over 300 million people still do not have a single word of the Scriptures in their mother-tongue. Find out how you can be involved in the continuing work of Bible Translation.

*John 3.16 in the Wyclif Bible.

John Calvin (1509 – 1564)

Thursday, May 27th, 2010 by Ruth

On the 27th May we commemorate the death of an influential figure during the Protestant Reformation. John Calvin, a celebrated French theologian and pastor, died on this day in 1564 after a lifetime of writing and preaching which provided the seeds for a new expression of Christian theology in his time.

John CalvinHe gave his name to what is now known as Calvinism, which John Calvin preached in the newly founded Reformed churches throughout the 16th century.  His views generated much controversy in a period of history when religious tensions were provoking violent uprisings against Protestants in France.  Such tensions increased to the point that he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530 and fled to Basel, Switzerland.

He was born on 10th July, 1509 and worked across Europe, mainly in Geneva and Strasbourg.  His most famous writing was Institutes of the Christian Religion (Institutio Christianae religionis) which was originally published in 1536 in Latin but also translated into French in 1541.  This is still widely read by theological students today.  In addition to the Institutes, he wrote commentaries on most books of the Bible as well as theological treatises, much of which was based on the sermons he had preached in Geneva.

“Perhaps even more so than Martin Luther, Calvin created the patterns and thought that would dominate Western culture throughout the modern period”  Richard Hooker (d. 1600)

However, Calvin’s life and work was part of a bigger story.  Over two hundred years earlier in the 14th Century another John, John Wycliffe, had been influencing Christian understanding concerning the accessibility and authority of Scripture through his work in translating scripture into the common language.  In this early period it was Wycliffe who recognised and formulated one of the great principles of the Reformation—the unique authority of the Bible for the belief and life of the Christian.  His work in translating the scriptures had also sown the early seeds of reformation.  Like Calvin much later, John Wycliffe and his followers were also criticised and persecuted severely as a consequence of their work.

It is astonishing to realise that over 400 years after Calvin’s death, and over 600 years after John Wycliffe, there remain over 350 million people in over 2,000 languages who still do not have God’s word in their own language in any form, either written or audio.  Today, Wycliffe Bible Translators, along with many other organisations and individuals worldwide continue the story by working towards this aim: that a Bible translation programme is begun in all the remaining languages that need one, so that people of every language can have God’s message of love in the language they understand best.

Could you be part of this story?  Find out more about how to get involved.