Wycliffe was ignorant, indeed, of Greek and Hebrew, but was it nothing to shake off the dust which, for ages, had covered the Latin Bible and to translate it into English? He was a good Latin scholar, of sound understanding and great penetration. But, above all, he loved the Bible, he understood it, and desired to communicate this treasure to others.
Let us imagine him in his quiet study. On his table is the Vulgate text, corrected after the best manuscripts. And, lying open around him, are the commentaries of the doctors of the church, especially those of St. Jerome and Nicholas of Lyra. Between ten and fifteen years, he steadily prosecuted his task. Learned men aided him with their advice, and one of them, Nicholas of Hereford, a Fellow of Queen’s College, Oxford, appears to have translated a few chapters for him. At last, sometime between 1380 and 1384, it was completed. This was a great event in the religious history of England. Outstripping the nations on the continent, she took her station in the foremost rank in the great work of disseminating the Scriptures.
As soon as the translation was finished, the labor of the copyists began, and the Bible was, ere long, widely circulated, either in whole or in portions. The reception of the work surpassed all expectations.
From: The Reformation in England by J. H. Merle d’Aubigne; translated from the French by H. White; 2 volumes; reprint (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1962-1963), 1:89-90. Volume 1 of the Banner of Truth Trust reprint is taken from Volume 5 of d’Aubigne’s The History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century.