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Henry Knighton

(1 posts)

Made Forever Common

John Wycliffe (ca. 1330–1384) is best known for his translation of the Bible from Jerome’s Latin Vulgate to English. The Roman Catholic hierarchy had, until then, intentionally kept the Scriptures from the common people, and was not at all happy with Wycliffe. Canon of Leicester and historian Henry Knighton did not conceal his anger. The attitude of the clergy towards the common folk, and their self-ordained position as dispensers of grace, is plainly displayed in the following complaint: Christ delivered his gospel to the clergy and doctors of the church, that they might administer to the laity and to weaker persons, according to the state of the times, and the wants of man. But this master John Wickliffe translated it out of Latin into English, and thus laid it more open to the laity, and to women who can read, than it formerly had been to the most learned of the clergy, even to those of them who had the best understanding. . . . And in this way the gospel pearl is cast abroad, and trodden under foot of swine, and that which was before precious both to clergy and laity, is rendered as it were the common jest in both! The jewel of the church is turned into this sport of the people, and what was hitherto the principal gift of the clergy and divines, is made for ever common. —cited in Steven J. Lawson, Pillars of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2011), 364. We, of course, are very grateful.


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