Purvey, John, c.1354–c.1421, English scholar, who in support of the Lollardry movement completed the first thorough translation of the Bible into English. Becoming associated with John Wyclif at Oxford, he accompanied the Lollard leader to Lutterworth in 1382 and there perhaps finished a faulty translation of the Bible previously begun by others under Wyclif's inspiration. He completed (c.1395) a careful and scholarly translation entirely his own. These two versions were erroneously attributed to Wyclif himself until modern times. The second shows a prose style better than that of Wyclif's writings; portions of it were later used by the translators of the King James Version. Purvey continued active as a Lollard until his arrest in 1401. The following year he recanted under pressure and accepted a living from Archbishop Arundel. In 1403, however, he resigned and resumed Lollard activities until his arrest again in 1421, after which time nothing certain is known of his fate.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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