A leaflet of the New Testament by TyndaleDescription: Forbidden to work in England, Tyndale translated and printed in English the New Testament and half the Old Testament between 1525 and 1535 in Germany and the Low Countries. He worked from the Greek and Hebrew original texts when knowledge of those languages in England was rare. His pocket-sized Bible translations were smuggled into England, and then ruthlessly sought out by the Church, confiscated and destroyed. Condemned as a heretic, Tyndale was strangled and burned outside Brussels in 1536.
The Holy Bible CoverDescription: Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament was taken almost word for word into the much praised Authorised Version (King James Bible) of 1611, which also reproduces a great deal of his Old Testament. From there his words passed into our common understanding. People across the world honour him as a great Englishman, unjustly condemned and still unfairly neglected. His solitary courage, and his skill with languages - including, supremely, his own - enriched English history in ways still not properly examined, and then reached out to affect all English-speaking nations.
Tyndale New Testament ImageDescription: His influence has been as wide as Shakespeare's. His phrases are so well-known that they are often thought to be proverbial - 'let there be light', 'we live and move and have our being', 'fight the good fight', 'the signs of the times', 'the powers that be', 'a law unto themselves', and hundreds more. The familiar words telling the great Bible stories are usually Tyndale's. Modern interest in Tyndale is developing rapidly in many fields, particularly history, theology, Bible studies, literature, language, translation theory and the history of art.
Tyndale New Testament Leaflet Page 1Description: A picture of Tyndale New Testament Leaflet Page.
William Tyndale 1Description: Tyndale, William c.1494-1536. William Tyndale was probably born in Gloucestershire. He became chaplain in the house of Sir John Walsh in about 1521. He had studied at both Oxford and Cambridge and was a strong supporter of the movement for reform in the Church. His opinions involved him in controversy with his fellow clergymen and about 1522 he was actually summoned before the Chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester on a charge of heresy. He left for London. He had by this time determined to translate the Bible into English. He had admired the teaching of Erasmus at Cambridge (he made an English translation of the master's Enchiridion) and was certain in his heart that the way to God was through His word - scripture should be available even to 'a boy that driveth the plough'.
William Tyndale 2Description: But in London Tyndale was firmly rebuffed when he sought the support of Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall, who was uneasy, like many highly placed churchmen, with the idea of the Bible in the vernacular. Tyndale, with the help of Humphrey Monmouth, a merchant of means, left England under a false name and landed at Hamburg in 1524. He had already begun work on the translation of the New Testament. He visited Luther at Wittenberg and in the following year completed his translation. The printing was begun with William Roye, another reformist Cambridge man, at Cologne. But Roye was indiscreet and the work was soon being talked about. The city magistrates, at the behest of the anti-Lutheran theologian Johannes Cochlaeus, ordered the printing to stop. Only a few sheets were saved before Tyndale fled to Worms; among them was that containing his Prologue, which was later enlarged and called A Pathway into the Holy Scripture.
William Tyndale 3Description: The printing was successfully carried out at Worms. Copies of the New Testament in English arrived in Tyndale's country in 1526, and the work was given a very hostile reception by the Church. The reforming movement had insisted, since the time of John Wycliffe, that the scriptures should be available to everyone and not kept in the hands of the establishment so that they could make their own rules. But while the established Church could make no real case against a Bible in the vernacular, it could rest on its massive authority and mutter threateningly about tendentious comment - and Tyndale's New Testament carried a great deal of comment. Tunstall (predictably) and Archbishop Warham denounced it; so did Thomas More, who was against every manifestation of Luther's Reformation. Wolsey demanded Tyndale's arrest as a heretic.
William Tyndale 4Description: Tyndale went into hiding - in Hamburg, it is believed, for a time - and went on working. He revised his New Testament and began the translation of the Old. He wrote A Prologue on the Epistle to the Romans (1526), Parable of the Wicked Mammon, and Obedience of a Christian Man (1528). He printed his translation of the Pentateuch (1530) and Jonah (1531). In 1530 he wrote The Practice of Prelates which, in its opposition to Henry VIII's divorce (he objected to the grounds for it), seemed to move him briefly to the opposing side. It brought down on his head the wrath of the king, who asked the emperor to have Tyndale seized and returned to England.
William Tyndale 5Description: Eventually an English spy in the Netherlands, Henry Phillips, betrayed Tyndale to the imperial authorities. He was arrested in Antwerp in 1535 and confined in the castle of Vilvorde, near Brussels. He was tried on a charge of heresy in 1536 and condemned to the stake in spite of Thomas Cromwell's attempt to intercede on his behalf. He was mercifully strangled before the fires were lighted. He left the manuscript of his translation of the Old Testament books Joshua to the Second Book of Chronicles. In the year of Tyndale's death his New Testament in English was actually printed in England and before long other scholars were hurrying the great work to completion. The climate of reform had helped the matter along and Henry VIII encouraged it. Tyndale returned to Greek and Hebrew sources for his English Bible and his sharp, lucid English style set the character for every translation that followed.
William Tyndale being Burned AliveDescription: William Tyndale was the Captain of the Army of Reformers, and was their spiritual leader. Tyndale holds the distinction of being the first man to ever print the New Testament in the English language. Tyndale was a true scholar and a genius, so fluent in eight languages that it was said one would think any one of them to be his native tongue. He is frequently referred to as the Architect of the English Language, (even more so than William Shakespeare) as so many of the phrases Tyndale coined are still in our language today.