Critiquing Margret Deanesly 98 Years Late
(I am back after a prolonged medical issue in my home.)
Margret Deanesly's epic work, The Lollard Bible was published by the Cambridge University Press in 1920. Her work is still fairly available on the internet or in good libraries. For those who wonder at the history of vulgar (common language) bibles throughout the middle ages, her work is a treasure trove. Her intimate knowledge of long dead European languages or dialects gives us an insight to the texts that were carried by dissenters throughout the long bitter years of the Roman Catholic supremacy known as the Dark Ages.
Dr. Deanesly made extensive use of inquisition records to give us an insight to how clandestine bible reading was conducted. You will see actual court transcripts of children describing how that a man would come to their house and read bible to them in their native language. You will see testimonies of neighbors who a believing couple hazarded their lives to invite to clandestine bible study only to be betrayed. I have asked my church, "would you invite your neighbors to a bible study if it could mean being burned at the stake?"
Deanesly explained how that vulgar bibles were rare because literate people were very rare during the Dark Ages and could probably only read Latin. The local languages and dialects were rarely ever written, and when they were it was usually only small snippets of scripture such as a portion of a gospel. An itinerant evangelist might have a portion of the Book of Luke and that would be the extent of his bible knowledge. He would go from village to village, house to house and always in jeopardy of his life. The inquisition diligently sought to find and kill such men.
After well over 400 pages of fascinating insights into the world of medieval bibles, Margret Deanesly made her error. In the end, Deanesly came to the erroneous conclusion that the trail of vulgar bibles petered out. She did not see them as being in the line of bibles that led to our English Bible. In my conversations with serious scholars such as David Cloud who are Textus Receptus men rather than King James Bible men, Deanesly figured into their miscalculations. Anyone following Deanesly would come to the erroneous opinion that our King James Bible is a product of the Textus Receptus and not a product of the underground bibles carried by Anabaptists throughout the centuries.
The King James Translators used vulgar bibles in translating the King James Bible. That can be known a few ways. They were fluent in many languages besides English, Hebrew and Greek. They acknowledged using the labors of other men who had gone on before them saying in the dedication to the king; "comparing many worthy men who went on before before us". And last of all, and no doubt the greatest proof is I John 2:23, Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
I have underlined the last part of that verse because the translators put it in italics signifying that they were words not found in the Greek Text. If those words weren't found in the Greek Text, where did they get them from? They found them in the Vetus Latina, the pre-Jerome text of the Bible in Latin which dated back to the year 100. They found it in the Syrian, the Coptic and many other vulgar tongues dating back so far that the translators were convinced that they existed in the original Greek even though no extant manuscript contained them.
Since then, as many students of the King James Bible already know, ancient scraps of paper known as Papyri have been found which predate even the Vetus Latina and which show that those last 10 words were indeed in the Greek Text. Papyri are small scraps or wisps of paper such as might be found shredded in a rat's nest. Think of the tiny scraps of newspaper that you may have found when cleaning out an old barn or tearing out an old wall.
Archeologists sometimes find just such scraps of ancient Greek writing. They may contain nothing more that half of a word and maybe a couple of tantalizing letters from a few other words. They are carefully noted, given numerical designations and added to the great jigsaw puzzle. Eventually, almost 350 years after the King James translators authoritatively added those last 10 words to the King James Bible, enough papyri were found to prove demonstrably that those 10 words were authored by the Apostle John himself. That would have been a big ho hum to the translators, they already knew that from the evidence of the vulgar bibles.
The King James translators were not so dull witted as to think that only the original manuscripts were inspired. I can't even imagine what they would make of the modern magpies sitting on the long branch of humanistic scholarship which disguises itself as Christian apologetics, while they chirp their mindless mantra that only the originals are inspired. The translators knew that the mind of God was alive throughout the hills of Europe in the thousands of partial bibles scattered through many tongues.
Fortunately for the truth's sake, Margret Deanesly had a young Swede by the name of Sven Fristedt who worked for her as an assistant. Fristedt went on to author three books on the Wycliffe Bible that demonstrated clearly that Deanesly was wrong in her conclusion that the line of vulgar bibles petered out. He demonstrated that the lineage of vulgar bibles did not die out, and that the English translations are their legitimate offspring. Those books were published in Sweden, were studied by advanced English classes in some secular American universities, but are almost unknown to students of the English Bible.