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I Admire Him Essay

877 words - 4 pages

The Roman empire held the known world in its thrall for centuries. Even after it finally crumbled in the fifth century, Rome was still the seat of power of Europe for almost a millennium. Large institutions fail slowly — and the Roman Catholic church tried to fill Rome's shoes.

Whatever your theological views, it's hard to defend some of the abuses of the theocracy in the middle ages. By some accounts, English taxpayers paid five times as much to the Church as they did to the king. The Pope held near-ultimate power, with the ability to make and replace rulers, apppoint supporters to prime positions, and threaten excommunication and damnation to his enemies. For example, in the early ...view middle of the document...

(As a digression into Wycliffe's theology, one of the issues on which he opposed Rome was the idea of mediation. That is, Wycliffe believed that man needed no intermediary to reach God. The Roman church believed that only a representative of the church could even read the Bible. If Wycliffe were correct and the pious could approrach God directly, this would attack the Church's apparent spiritual reason for existing and lead more people to question its power and authority in other realms. I don't want to cast aspersions on everyone involved in the church at this time period; there were plenty of devout men and women on both sides of this issue. It's important to see Wycliffe's views as a threat to two power bases though.)

To live out his belief that individuals did not need the Roman church to mediate in their behalf, Wycliffe began the first complete translation of the New Testament into English. (For the curious, he used Jerome's Latin Vulgate — the Latin root is vulgus, meaning the common people.)

Because the printing press was still most of a century away, Wycliffe and his assistants had to copy the translations by hand to publish sufficiently. Of course, Gutenberg still published the Latin Bible.

Wycliffe completed his translation at the end of his life. He had also established a group of itinerant preachers eventually known as the Lollards. They spread Wycliffe's translation throughout England and neighboring countries, incurring the wrath of the Roman church...

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