William Tyndale



The Reformation was a bloody, violent business because there was so much power at stake. The people in charge faced losing their jobs. If regular shmos understood that they had a direct line to G-d through prayer, maybe they wouldn’t need the priests so much.

The Bible was THE book everybody in western culture was familiar with. It seems natural to want to translate into your own language and publish it, as Martin Luther had done. More than the prospect of making a few samolians from a bestseller, if you take Saint Paul’s words to heart, you understand that faith in Christ is its own justification. That is: if you accept Christ as your Savior, your sins are forgiven. That’s it. No paying for indulgences. Jesus’ sacrifice was a gift freely given to get us into heaven. William Tyndale wanted everybody to know that.

William Tyndale was an English scholar-priest and really good at languages. He wanted to publish the New Testament in English. It isn’t a surprise that no Church bigshot would underwrite Tyndale’s project. In fact, it became dangerous for Tyndale to even occupy space in England—so he moved around different continental cities until he settled in Worms (vorms), Saxony. There he translated the New Testament from Erasmus’ Greek edition and published it in 1525. Copies were enthusiastically smuggled into England. This didn’t go over so well with the Church or King Henry VIII (Henry was busy starting up a new church with himself replacing the pope). The Church did not want people reading the Bible for themselves. Whenever they found Tyndale’s bibles, they burned ’em.

He moved to Antwerp and even though Tyndale was hiding out, he spent his free time helping poor people. Eventually someone he trusted betrayed him to Church authorities. Tyndale was tried for heresy and burned at the stake. They were that afraid of him.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/scholarsandscientists/william-tyndale.html
Look at this gorgeous woodcut from Tyndale’s Bible—
https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/heritage/archives/picture-this/william-tyndale-the-newe-testament-of-oure-sauiour-iesus-christe-faythfully-translated-oute-of-the-greke-with-the-notes-and-expositions-of-the-darke-places-therein-london-rycharde-jugge-1553-c/
Almost all Tyndale’s bibles were destroyed; there are only a few in existence—
https://evangelicalfocus.com/culture/4029/tyndale-bible-from-persecuted-to-becoming-a-treasure
https://thepilgrimsnews.wordpress.com/tag/william-tyndale/
https://bishopmike.com/2012/11/03/tyndale-luther-and-hus/

3 responses to “William Tyndale

  1. First, I love your sketch of Tyndale!
    Second: one would think that considering Henry XIII’s reformist attitude vis a vis the Catholic Church and his serial marriages, he’d be more than willing to give Tyndale the green light on his scholarly efforts? But then, we know that Henry was more than a little insane. Anyway, thanks for this interesting piece of history!

    Liked by 2 people

    • From what I read Henry’s Cardinal Woolsey was Tyndale’s big nemesis. What’s stranger: after his execution, Tyndale’s translation lived on in Henry’s Great Bible—his translators cut-and-pasted big chunks of Tyndale’s work.

      Like

  2. Pingback: The Church of England | John Manders' Blog

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