In 1536, William Tyndale was found guilty of heresy and translating the Bible from Greek to English. He was sentenced to death on a stake.
Background and mission.
William Tyndale is popularly known as the “father of the English Bible” and a brilliant person who spoke 12 languages fluently at 21. Many historians debate on his actual birth year and speculate it to be around 1490 near Gloucestershire, England.
Not much is known about his childhood or family but that he obtained his Arts degrees at the University of Cambridge and Oxford, where he developed a strong passion for church reforms. It is believed that, according to Tyndale, the church priests were not following the actual teachings of God, thus misleading the people.
One Catholic clergyman once said to him, “We are better to be without God’s laws than the pope’s.” His response was a statement that still gives one a chilling sensation to this day “If God spares me, ere many years I will cause a boy that drives the plough to know more of the Scriptures than you do.”
At some point, he was ordained as a priest, then later a chaplain but remember, nothing frightens evil men as much as a good man willing to stand in their way. His sentiments around religion threatened the leaders of the church and the authorities leading to his dismal. As a man of values and principles that he was willing to die for, his dismal was a blessing in disguise.
Fully dedicated to studying and teaching the gospel, many things stood in his way. Amongst them was the language barrier. People of England didn’t speak or hear Greek and Hebrew, which the Bible was written in. Blessed with the full knowledge of both languages and English, the only easiest way to conquer the challenge was translating the scriptures into English. However, it was easier said than done.
Back in those days, the possession of the Bible was sacred and translating it without the King, or Bishop’s permission was strictly forbidden. William headed to the Bishop of London, Cuthbert Tunstall, to seek consent, but Tunstall refused to grant his wishes. Devoted to the cause, William would not let anyone stand in his way.
He secretly searched for people who had any form of printing equipment or connections. Luckily for him, he found several traders who were smuggling Martin Luther’s writings from Germany. They encouraged him to flee from England to Europe and would help him smuggle the Bibles after. Filled with happiness and fear, William left England under a false name, with the help of Humphrey Monmoutin (a merchant), in 1524 and headed to Germany.
Upon his arrival, he began working on the New Testament, and William Roye( a reformist Cambridge man)secretly printed it for him. Unfortunately, nothing under the sun is hidden forever, and whatever is hidden shall surely come to light. News of his mischievous work got into the ears of the opposition for Reformation leader Johannes Cochlaeus. He wreaked havoc and raided every place that printed for the press.
William escaped to the German city of Worms with some of the pages that had already been printed and was still not willing to give up. He completed and published the New Testament there. The merchants kept their promise and successfully smuggled six thousand printed copies into England.
Bishop Tunstall and the archbishop of Canterbury were not impressed. They tried to use their power and money to buy as many Bibles as possible and burn them to ashes, but as Babe Ruth once said, nothing is harder than trying to beat a person that never gives up. William used every penny he had to print improved editions and smuggled them back.
King Henry VIII
After the divorce of King Henry VIII from his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, he asked William to return home and work by his side as his writer and scholar. William never refused but gave the King a condition if he was to accept his offer- the Bible would legally be translated into English in England.
A clash of interest emerged with the King planning to write and publish his own version( The King James Version). Failing to reach an agreement, the King sent his agents all over England and Europe to search, capture, and bring Tyndale alive.
Back in Germany, Tyndale had begun the translation of the Old Testament. Still, with his life in danger, not only from King Henry but the opposition of Reformation, he constantly migrated within cities of Hamburg, Wittenberg, Cologne, Worms, and Antwerp.
His Betrayal and capture
Like Jesus, William Tyndale was betrayed and handed to his enemies by a two-faced English man and spy Henry Philips, who pretended to be friends with him but knew his true motive. In 1535 near Brussels, Tyndale was captured by imperial forces and thrown into prison. After over a year and some months behind bars, his trial began.
He was accused of heresy, that is, believing, among other things, in the forgiveness of sins and that the mercy offered in the gospel was enough for salvation. He was sentenced to death. His last wishes and prayer were “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”
William Tyndale (; sometimes spelled Tynsdale, Tindall, Tindill, Tyndall; c. 1494 - c. 6 October 1536) was an English…
William Tyndale, English biblical translator, humanist, and Protestant martyr. He believed that the Bible alone should…
In addition to the account of Tyndale's life and work immediately below, at the foot of this page there is a Timeline…