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?
Today 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.
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’.