So is the World, “not a bed of Roses”. The English man says. This old adage rhymes perfectly with the story of William Tyndale, a Briton who was burnt alive for translating the new Testament of the Bible in English.
WILLIAM TYNDALE, the man who translated the Bible into English and was burnt alive at the ridiculous young age of 42 years old, for his efforts. (Google Foxe’s book of Martyrs.)
Nearly 500 years ago, this week, William Tyndale, fondly called ‘Father of the English Bible’ was strangled and burned at the stake after being tried and convicted of heresy and treason for translating the Bible into English.
He translated the Greek Bible into English.
That you have a Bible in a language you can read is largely due to his labours, and many of the very phrases you read in it retain the flavour of his understanding of the Greek and Hebrew.
A graduate of Oxford and Cambridge, Tyndale had a powerful desire to make the Bible available even to the common people in England, in order to correct the ‘Biblical ignorance of the priests.’ At one point Tyndale told a priest, “If God spares my life, are many years pass, I will cause a boy that driveth the plow, shall know more of the Scriptures than thou dost.”
Today, 90% of the King James Version of the Holy Bible and 75% of the Revised Standard Version are from the translation made by Tyndale, a man to whom you owe more than you’ll ever know.
A nice dream, but how was Tyndale to accomplish his task, when translating the Bible into English was ILLEGAL at the time?’
He went to London to ask Bishop Tunstall if he could be authorised to make an English translation of the Bible, but the Bishop would not grant his approval.
However, Tyndale would not let the disapproval of men stop him from carrying out what seemed so obviously God’s will. With encouragement and support of some British merchants, he decided to go to Europe to complete his translation, then have it printed and smuggled back into England.
In 1524 Tyndale sailed for Germany. In Hamburg, he worked on the New Testament, and in Cologne, he found a printer who would print the work. However, news of Tyndale’s activity came to an opponent of the Reformation who had the press raided.
Tyndale himself managed to escape with the pages already printed and made his way to the German city Worms where the New Testament was soon published.
Six thousand copies were printed and smuggled into England.
The Bishops did everything they could to eradicate the Bibles. Bishop Tunstall had copies ceremoniously burned at St. Paul’s; the Archbishop of Canterbury bought up copies to destroy them. Tyndale used the money to print improved editions!
Tyndale continued hiding among the merchants in Antwerp and began translating the Old Testament while the King’s agents searched all over England and Europe for him.
A copy of Tyndale’s “The Obedience of a Christian Man” fell into the hands of Henry VIII, providing the king with the rationale to break the Church in England from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534.
In 1535, Tyndale was arrested and jailed in the castle of Vilvoorde (Filford) outside Brussels for over a year.
Tyndale’s work was denounced by authorities of the Roman Catholic Church and Tyndale himself was accused of heresy.
Tyndale, 42 was finally found by an Englishman who pretended to be his friend but then turned him over to the authorities. After a year and a half in prison, he was brought to trial for heresy — FOR BELIEVING, among other things, IN THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS and that THE MERCY OFFERED IN THE GOSPEL WAS ENOUGH FOR SALVATION. In August 1536, he was condemned and was executed [burned alive at the stake] publicly on October 6, 1536, in a small town in Belgium.
As he burnt to death, Tyndale reportedly said “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”
WAS HIS PRAYER ANSWERED?
YES! The prayer was answered first in part when three years later, in 1539, Henry VIII required every parish church in England to make a copy of the English Bible available to its parishioners. Today, Tyndale’s prayer is fully answered, not only are the King’s eyes opened, but the Bible a universal instrument.
* In 1611, the 54 scholars who produced the King James Bible drew significantly from Tyndale, as well as from translations that descended from his.
* In 2002, Tyndale was placed at number 26 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons; but in heaven he surely would be before the preceding 25.
A very important and interesting piece of history worth knowing and appreciating by all believers.
And may it *challenge* us to spend quality time in this same glorious book that this great servant literally gave his life for.
Today it’s hard to imagine the world without an English Bible, and there could now be as many as 900 of such translations in existence – but before Tyndale it had never happened. He’s known as the Father of the English Bible, since the later, epochal work of the King James Version of the Bible largely consisted of Tyndale’s scholarly and accessible translations.
The English language, as with scholarly understanding, continues to evolve – and so the work of Bible translation continues today.
But without the courage and genius of men like Tyndale, who challenged the status quo before them and died for doing so, it might never have been possible.