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The Literary Culture of the ReformationGrammar and Grace$
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Brian Cummings

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198187356

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198187356.001.0001

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Vernacular Theology

Vernacular Theology

(p.187) 5 Vernacular Theology
The Literary Culture of the Reformation

Brian Cummings

Oxford University Press

The story of the English Reformation is the story of the politics of the vernacular, and at the same time, it is called vernacular theology. Fisher's problem is not just that there are no agreed meanings for the Bible in English, but that there is not even an agreed text of the English Bible. The argument between More and William Tyndale is demonstrated. Tyndale happily accepts More's dispraise: he has neglected other sciences of learning ‘saue grammar’. In making his comments on the translatability of grammatical forms from Hebrew to Greek to English, Tyndale could not avail himself of any grammar of the English language, since none existed until William Bullokar's Bref Grammar for English of 1586, followed by P.G's Grammatica Anglicana of 1594 (written in Latin). In Tyndale's time, ‘grammar’ meant the rules not of English usage but of Latin. The chapter also explores Sir Thomas Wyatt's Penitentiall Psalms. His Penitentiall Psalms are a masterpiece of suppressed scandal and of scandalous suppression, a triumph of obliquity in which, as he puts it, ‘His sylence semid to argew and replye’ (296).

Keywords:   vernacular theology, English Reformation, Fisher, William Tyndale, More, Penitentiall Psalms, Thomas Wyatt

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