Rashi’s Influence on Nicholas of Lyra and the Wycliffite Translations of the Psalms

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by Zachary Schuster 19C, Jewish Studies
Halle/Fox Center Global Research Fellow

The Wycliffite translations exist in various manuscripts, making a wider study of the manuscripts crucial. I read Wycliffite manuscripts at the British Library and Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries in the UK. The Bodleian is the world’s main repository of Wycliffite manuscripts. This allowed me to understand the variety of ways the medieval man used and engaged with a Wycliffite text. In addition to my time reading manuscripts, I made a brief visit to the Rashi House in Troyes, where I also met local scholarship at the Greater Troyes Media Library.

The reception history of Psalms is a field of scholarship that only recently became of real interest to scholars around the world. In medieval monasteries, the entire book of Psalms was chanted every week. Understanding Jewish influence on Christian scholarship during this difficult period for interfaith dialogue proves an intriguing task. Moreover, both Nicholas of Lyra and John Wycliffe’s works became strong influences on the Reformation. Wycliffe influenced Jan Hus’s theology to minister to the populace in their vernacular. Meanwhile, as the saying goes, “Si Lyra non lyrasset, Lutherus non saltasset” (“Had Lyra not played his lyre, Luther would not have danced”).

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