Dynamics of Neo-Latin and the Vernacular

Taylor, Andrew

The Poetics of Paraphrase in Early Sixteenth-century Biblical Translation

This paper will focus on the literary politics of humanist translation of the Bible in the first half of the sixteenth century, with specific interest in the Psalms and Ecclesiastes. Within this, it offers the case study of the paraphrases of these biblical books by the Hebraist Joannes Campensis, whose Enchiridion psalmorum (1532) informed the English poetic paraphrases of Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. The relationship between translation, imitation and paraphrase will be explored through examining how the humanist’s neo-Latin work relates to the English poetry of these Henrician courtiers. Campensis’s biblical paraphrases both registered the disturbed religious politics of biblical translation in the early Reformation and mediated the biblical texts to a variety of audiences. The paper is thus interested in the nature of translated authority, how, in paraphrase, interpretation is posited as emerging through the biblical voice itself, and the qualities of the religious and political voices expressed in the vernacular.