Lot 2
  • 2

Jeremiah, substantial fragment of a leaf from a Wycliffite Bible, in Middle English, manuscript on vellum [England, first half of the fifteenth century (perhaps first quarter)]

3,000 - 5,000 GBP
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  • Paper
fragment of a leaf, with lower and right-hand parts cut away and small loss at upper right corner, 145mm. by 125mm., remains of double column, 24 lines in a good and legible anglicana hand, in brown ink, small spots and discolouration through reuse in a later binding, back rubbed with text now difficult to read, small pieces of paper from earlier mounting

Catalogue Note

This leaf contains Jeremiah 35:7-11, 15-19 and 36:6-10, 14-21 in the revised version of the Wycliffite Bible (corresponding to Forshall and Madden, The Holy Bible, III, 1850, p.427, col.2), associated with the early theologian and reformer, John Purvey (d.1414). The translation of the text was probably begun in the circle of the heretical John Wycliffe (d.1384), and a complete text of the earliest version was circulating by the 1390s. It proved to be a literal and stinted translation, and the revised text here was intended to offer the reader a more literary and idiomatic version. The second translation was in circulation by 1407, making this fragment a very early witness to it.

This was a dangerous book in the Middle Ages. Translation of the scriptures was illegal until 1535, and the owner of the parent volume of this leaf risked trial for heresy for his faith.