Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Thomas Cranmer on the Bible in English

"And yet, if the matter should be tried by custom, we might also allege custom for the reading of the Scripture in the vulgar tongues, and prescribe the more ancient custom.

For it is not much above one hundred years ... since Scripture hath not been accustomed to be read in the vulgar tongues within this realm; and many hundred years before that it was translated and read in the Saxons’ tongue, which at that time was our mother tongue; whereof there remaineth yet divers copies found lately in old abbeys, of such antique manners of writing and speaking that few men now [are] able to read and understand them.

And when this language waxed old and out of common usage, [so that] folk should not lack the fruit of reading, it was again translated in the newer language. Whereof yet also many copies remain and be daily found."

[From Cranmer’s "Prologue or Preface to the Bible," April 1540. See the “Miscellaneous Writings and Letters of Thomas Cranmer”, edited for the Parker Society (Cambridge: The University Press, 1846), pp. 118-125. Also see “The Protestant Reformation” (ed. Lewis W. Spitz, pubs. Prentice-Hall, 1966), p. 166].

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