William Tyndale (c1494 to 1536) was respected for the quality of his translation
William Tyndale was a scholar and theologian whose translation of the New Testament was the first to be translated from the original Hebrew & Greek, and printed in English. His simple, clear style and accuracy was a model for subsequent English translations of The Bible.
Tyndale was born in Gloucestershire and educated at Oxford and Cambridge where he became a strong supporter of church reform. He was ordained as a priest in around 1521 and returned to Gloucestershire to serve as a chaplain to a member of the local gentry. Tyndale's controversial opinions attracted the attention of the church authorities, so in 1523 he moved to London. His intention was to translate the New Testament into English, which was strictly forbidden. He believed passionately that people should be able to read The Bible in their own language.
In 1524, Tyndale left England for Germany where he hoped to continue his translation work in greater safety. He visited Luther at Wittenberg. Printing of his English New Testament began in 1525 and by the following year copies were being smuggled into England. The Roman Catholic Church authorities denounced the work and Tyndale was accused of heresy.
A clergyman deeply entrenched in Roman Catholic ways once taunted Tyndale with the statement, "We are better to be without God’s laws than the Pope’s". Tyndale was infuriated by such heresies, and he replied, "I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plough to know more of the scriptures than you!" He went into hiding, where he began work on a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into English.
In 1525 Tyndale was the first to print a New Testament in English. Only one complete copy of this first edition is known to exist, and the British Museum in London paid several million pounds sterling for it in 1948! Tyndale’s illustrated New Testaments of the 1530’s were even more spectacularly beautiful.
In 1534, Tyndale moved to Antwerp but was betrayed, arrested for heresy and imprisoned in Vilvoorde Castle, near Brussels. He was held in appalling conditions for a year in solitary confinement without light, heating or any comfort. A fair trial was out the question as Tyndale had no friends that could influence the outcome. There was no appeal procedure but unexpectedly Thomas Cromwell who by this time was King Henry VIII’s Chief Minister interceded on Tyndale’s behalf. Cromwell was initially a Catholic, but converted to Protestantism and became one of the strongest campaigners for the English Reformation to separate the English Church from the influence of Rome. Cromwell had perhaps greater control over the affairs of the King and country than any other man of the time. After King Henry VIII was declared as head of the “Church of England” by an Act of Parliament in 1534, Cromwell was able to supervise church affairs as well as state affairs.
But even Cromwell could not bring about a reprieve and on 6 October 1536, Tyndale was strangled and burned at the stake. In dying as a martyr for his chosen life’s work, reputedly his final words were “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes”. His translation of the Old Testament remained unfinished at his death, but was influential in the production of the 'King James' version. To find the text of his Bible Google William Tyndale Bible.
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