Borrowing Brains: Biography on Wycliffe

I’m doing some studying on the life and ministry of John Wycliffe. Can anyone recommend particularly helpful resources? A preferred biography?


12 Responses

  1. Chris,
    Check the following dictionary articles:

    J. Loserth, “Wyclif, John,” in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia. pp. 454-67.

    G. R. Evans, “WYCLIF, JOHN (c. 1320-1384),” in Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters, edited by Donald McKim. pp. 1065-68. (no online preview found). The article is critical of the title “Morningstar of the Reformation” given to Wyclif.

    Each of these articles include bibliographies. Naturally, the latter is more up-to-date.

    A traditional, sympathetic article is offered by A. N. S. Lane in Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals (pp. 753-54).

    A short, simple article is included in The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History by Curtis Bostick (pp. 686-87). You can read this online via Amazon’s Online Reader: here.

    Oxford UP is due to release a new critical biography of John Wyclif, by Stephen Edmund Lahey, next month (Nov. 2008). This may be too critical but that remains to be seen. Lahey appears to be immersed in researching the life and thought of Wyclif. “This is the first book-length, comprehensive survey of Wyclif’s thought, and will be of interest to students of later medieval theology, philosophy, history, and literature” (from the publisher).

    These online articles look great, too:
    F. F. Bruce, “John Wycliffe and the English Bible,” Churchman 98/4 1984 (11 pages available online).
    Gillian Evans, “Wycliffe the Academic: The Old and the New” Churchman 98/4 1984 Gordon Leff, “John Wycliffe’s Religious Doctrines” Churchman 98/4 1984
    This is all that I am aware of, or could find as I searched around this evening. The most recent full-length biography is by G. R. Evans. I’ve not yet read it, so I can’t say how helpful it is.

    I hope this list helps. I’d also be glad to know what others recommend.

  2. I just came across this annotated list:

    Recommended Resources: John Wycliffe (Christian History & Biography, Issue 3, July 1, 1983)

  3. Here’s a list of resources compiled by Christianity Today.

  4. David Daniell has a pretty interesting chapter on Wycliffe and his English translation in his book The Bible in English. It’s certainly not a full length biography but worth reading nonetheless.

  5. Thank you both, Andy and Jason.

    I especially appreciate the work you put into this, Jason. Wonderful.

    BTW, your comments were both stuck in my “waiting for approval” file due to the links they contain. Wish I’d seen them before just a few minutes ago. It’s funny that we both found the CT site. Had I known that you found it first, I would have been in bed earlier than I was. :)

    Again, thank you very much!

    (I’m a bit surprised that there’s not a definitive biography available. Someone should fix that.)

  6. Greg has offered this link. Thanks!

    I’d love to buy K. B. McFarlane’s biography of Wycliffe (whether the 1952 or the 1974 edition). It seems to be somewhat of a standard, but it’s out of print and quite pricey. If a reader has “a thing” for finding great deals online and can run down a copy at a reasonable price, well, please let me know. :)

  7. From Carl Trueman:

    “On Wyclif, there was a little book by David Fountain, The Dawn of the Reformation, that the Metroploitan Tabernacle in London used to sell. Also, the opening chapter of Anthony Kenn’s `Wyclif’ — an Oxford University Press book/booklet — is quite good, though Kenny is a philosopher so not a churchman.”

    (I found the Fountain book here.)

  8. Glad to help. I enjoyed researching this and have added these recommendations to my book lists. I wasn’t aware of Fountain’s book. I’ll have to keep an eye out for a copy of it.

  9. There is a nice little article on Wycliffe and Huss called “Forerunners of the Reformation” in BJU’s publication Scenes from Church History. Jennings recommends two bios I hadn’t previously heard of, but both of which are available at

    G. H. W. Parker’s The Morning Star: Wycliffe and the Dawn of the Reformation.

    Douglas Wood’s The Evangelical Doctor.

  10. Well, I’ve received a number of bios from the large Cleveland Library Co-op that allows me to reserve books from my rural home and have the books sent to my local library. What a great resource!

    The bios by Parker and Evans arrived today, as well. The one by Evans looks exceptional. It’s endorsed by Mark Noll, J.I. Packer and Alister McGrath (and engaging historical writer in his own right), who says it is “Easily the most readable, enjoyable and up-to-date biography of this major English political and religious reformer. Highly recommended!”

    That’s enough to convince me. :)

  11. […] Posted on October 24, 2008 by Chris I’m studying several biographies of John Wycliffe (link) in preparation for a lecture on his life this Sunday evening. At the same time (a happy […]

  12. The result of this study was this lecture on the life and ministry of John Wycliffe. Thanks for the tips!

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