Wycliffite New Testament

Collection ID

MS.000875

Type

Manuscript

Date

ca. 1400–1450

Geography

England

Language

Middle English

Medium

Vellum, ink

Dimensions

8.25 × 6.5 × 2.4 in. (21 × 16.5 × 6 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on view


In the 1380s, a circle of scholars associated with John Wycliffe translated the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into Middle English. This translation was more accessible to the common people than the Latin, but because its word order was influenced by the Latin, it was sometimes awkward to read. A decade later, John Purvey and others reworked the translation into a more fluent “Later Version.” This beautiful early 15th-century manuscript contains the “Later Version” of the New Testament. Each book begins with a blue-and-red puzzle initial, containing elaborate patterns within the letter.

Created in the first half of the 15th century in England. The names Tomas Awke and Elyzabeth Cornwayll appear in the text written in a 16th-century hand, perhaps indicating ownership.[1] Acquired by Alexander Peckover, Baron Peckover of Wisbech (1830–1919); By descent to his grandson, Alexander Peckover Doyle Penrose (1896–1950);[2] Via widowhood to Bertha Baker Penrose (1897–1985); Purchased at auction in 1951 by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1886–1959).[3] Acquired by Charles Caldwell Ryrie (1925–2016); [4] Purchased at auction in 2016 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;[5] Donated in 2018 to The Signatry under the curatorial care of Museum of the Bible.

Notes: [1] Since owning a Wycliffite biblical text could be used as evidence of heresy, it is not unusual that a Wycliffite manuscript has little indication of early ownership. [2] Ownership likely passed down through his mother, Elizabeth Josephine Peckover (1859–1930). She married the artist J. Doyle Penrose (1862–1932), who painted portraits of his father-in-law that are now on display at the National Trust, Peckover House in Wisbech, and the Wisbech and Fenland Museum, [https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/search/actor:penrose-james-doyle-18621932-70945#] [3] Apsley Cherry-Garrard was a survivor of the Scott Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition of 1911–1913, and a collector of rare books. He purchased the manuscript from Sotheby’s on December 3, 1951, Lot 18, but the book was not included in his posthumous auction at Sotheby’s in 1961. [4] Ryrie may have acquired the manuscript from Quaritch, according to dealer’s notes and the letter Q written in pencil on the rear pastedown. [5] Sotheby’s auction December 5, 2016, Lot 9.

Selected References

Mary Dove, The First English Bible: The Text and Context of the Wycliffite Versions (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

description

In the 1380s, a circle of scholars associated with John Wycliffe translated the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into Middle English. This translation was more accessible to the common people than the Latin, but because its word order was influenced by the Latin, it was sometimes awkward to read. A decade later, John Purvey and others reworked the translation into a more fluent “Later Version.” This beautiful early 15th-century manuscript contains the “Later Version” of the New Testament. Each book begins with a blue-and-red puzzle initial, containing elaborate patterns within the letter.


provenance

Created in the first half of the 15th century in England. The names Tomas Awke and Elyzabeth Cornwayll appear in the text written in a 16th-century hand, perhaps indicating ownership.[1] Acquired by Alexander Peckover, Baron Peckover of Wisbech (1830–1919); By descent to his grandson, Alexander Peckover Doyle Penrose (1896–1950);[2] Via widowhood to Bertha Baker Penrose (1897–1985); Purchased at auction in 1951 by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1886–1959).[3] Acquired by Charles Caldwell Ryrie (1925–2016); [4] Purchased at auction in 2016 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;[5] Donated in 2018 to The Signatry under the curatorial care of Museum of the Bible.

Notes: [1] Since owning a Wycliffite biblical text could be used as evidence of heresy, it is not unusual that a Wycliffite manuscript has little indication of early ownership. [2] Ownership likely passed down through his mother, Elizabeth Josephine Peckover (1859–1930). She married the artist J. Doyle Penrose (1862–1932), who painted portraits of his father-in-law that are now on display at the National Trust, Peckover House in Wisbech, and the Wisbech and Fenland Museum, [https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/search/actor:penrose-james-doyle-18621932-70945#] [3] Apsley Cherry-Garrard was a survivor of the Scott Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition of 1911–1913, and a collector of rare books. He purchased the manuscript from Sotheby’s on December 3, 1951, Lot 18, but the book was not included in his posthumous auction at Sotheby’s in 1961. [4] Ryrie may have acquired the manuscript from Quaritch, according to dealer’s notes and the letter Q written in pencil on the rear pastedown. [5] Sotheby’s auction December 5, 2016, Lot 9.

Selected References

Mary Dove, The First English Bible: The Text and Context of the Wycliffite Versions (Cambridge University Press, 2007).


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