I assume they would not call it the "Bible". Would they say "Holy Scripture" or "The Word of God" when talking about the whole collection of OT NT (and apocrypha) or was there some other term in Middle English? I'm thinking particularly of a term that would communicate to those non Lollards to whom they preached rather than some code word that the "true men" would use among themselves or term that the ecclesiastical authorities would understand e.g. at a trial.

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    Have you looked at the Middle English text of the Prologue to Wycliffe Bible? The modern English translation on en.wikisource.org/wiki/Translation:Wycliffite_Prologue uses the word "Bible", and its note 1 addresses your question. My guess is that this translation is pretty literal, and that the ME terms were differed from the modern ones only in spelling. Mar 30 at 11:54
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    Plenty of primary sources you could look at here, but a lot seem to be in Latin so you may need to dig lollardsociety.org/?page_id=9
    – Brian Z
    Mar 30 at 14:31
  • @BrianZ Thanks for the lollardsociety pointer. The item lollardsociety.org/pdfs/F&M_GPonly.pdf has the Middle English text of the Prologue, and spot checking confirms me in my hunch that the wikisource translation is pretty literal Mar 30 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


Short answer: "Bible".

The first line of the text of the General Prologue starts with (in the original text):

Here bygynneth a prolog for alle the bokis of the Bible of the oolde testament

which the modern Wikisource edition translates as

Here begins a prologue on the Bible

listing in and endnote other texts found in various manuscripts as

"Here begins a prologue for all the books of the Bible of the old testament", "Prologue", "Prologue on the Bible", and "Here begins a rule that tells of the books of the old testament, which are of true faith, and which are not of faith. But all the books of the new testament are of faith and of belief".

I assume the Prologue can be considered a Lollard text, and that its usage should answer your question.

The word "bible" (and its plural form, "biblis") occurs (I think) 23 times in the Prologue. The terms "holy writ" and occasionally "holy scripture" occur, I think, more often.

Thanks to Brian Z, for supplying the Lollard Society web site in a comment.

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