The History of the English Bible Part 6: William Tyndale 1534

William Tyndale (1494-1536)

In May of 1524 William Tyndale fled England to spend the last twelve years of his life as a fugitive due to the fact that he felt everyman should be able to read the bible in their native tongue.In Hamburg, Germany he was able to start work translating Erasmus’ Greek New Testament into English. He carried it to be printed in 1525, but the church heard about it and forbade the printing. Tyndale headed to Worms, Germany to have his New Testament printed and in 1526 it was being smuggled back into England in cotton bales.

The Roman Catholic Church was very upset because it did not want the bible in English. The reasons being that (1)English is a rude and unworthy language to have God’s word translated into, (2)during the translation process errors can creep in, (3) with a translation that every man can read there will be personal interpretation which will lead to heresy, and (4)only priest have the divine grace of understanding the scriptures. The real reason though is that (5)certain doctrines will not hold up if people could read the bible for themselves. These doctrines like the priesthood, purgatory and penance were very important to the church,  but they lacked biblical evidence. Several word choices in Tyndale’s translation, while more accurate, they challenged the RCC’s teaching. They did not like how he had translated the Greek word presbuteros as elder instead of priest. The word ekklesia as congregation instead of church. The word metanoeo as repent instead of do penance. The word exomologeo as admit instead of confess and agape as love instead of charity.

Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of London was enraged with the translation and publicly burned every copy he could get his hands on. He approached a London merchant by the name of Augustine Packard about purchasing copies from him.

Martyrdom of Tyndale 1536

Augustine then went to Tyndale and said that he had a buyer for all his remaining bibles. When Tyndale asked who Packard told him and the story goes that Tyndale said, “That’s because he wants to burn them.” Never the less Tyndale allowed them to be sold in order to finance his second edition.

The second edition came out in 1534 and contained the New Testament, the Pentateuch, Joshua through 2 Chronicles and Jonah. 9/10 of the New Testament in the King James of 1611came from the Tyndale translation as did 83% of the entire KJV. In 1535 Tyndale was betrayed by Henry Phillips. Phillips helped to have Tyndale kidnapped and sent to England for trial and to spend the last year of his life in prison. In October of 1536 Tyndale was led to the stake strangled and burnt. His last word were, “Lord, open the King of England’s Eyes.”

John 3:16 Tyndale Bible

For God so loveth the worlde yt he hath geven his only sonne that none that beleve in him shuld perisshe: but shuld have everlastinge lyfe.

The Lord’s Prayer from the Tyndale bible Matthew 6:9-13

Let thy kyngdome come. Thy wyll be fulfilled as well in erth as it ys in heven. Geve vs this daye oure dayly breede. And forgeve vs oure treaspases eve as we forgeve oure trespacers. And leade vs not into teptacion: but delyver vs fro evell. For thyne is ye kyngedome and ye power and ye glorye for ever. Amen. For and yf ye shall forgeve other men their treaspases youre hevenly father shall also forgeve you.

Page from Tyndale New Testament (click to enlarge)

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