i l l i a m T
y n d a l e
B i b
l e T r a n s
l a t o r
e f o r m e r &
M a r t y r
It is surprising that the name of William
Tyndale is not more familiar, for there is no man who did more to enrich
the English language. Tyndale is the man who taught England how to read
and showed Shakespeare how to write. No English writer -- not even Shakespeare
-- has reached so many. According to a recent exhibit co-sponsored
by the British Library and the Library of Congress: "Contrary
to what history teaches about Chaucer being the father of the English Language,
this mantle belongs to William Tyndale, whose work was read by ten thousand
times as many people as Chaucer."
contributions, enshrined in his and subsequent English Bibles, molded the
speech of even those who condemned him. The British Library described Tyndale’s
New Testament as "the most important printed book in the English language"
and paid more than one million pounds for it. Only two complete copies
are known to have survived: most were burned or literally read to pieces.
was a man of heroic stature and died a martyr’s death. In England alone,
more than 1,000 people were burned between 1400 and 1557 for the sake of
the Gospel. Tyndale’s books and tracts (or "pestilent glosses" as his enemies
referred to them) were smuggled into England wrapped in bales of wool or
cloth, or sacks of flour by fellow "Lollards". Had he remained a
Catholic priest Tyndale would no doubt have been canonized as a saint,
but had he remained a Catholic he would not have attempted to translate
the Bible without official sanction. Although the Bible was available in
the vernacular in much of Europe, the only version of the Scripture tolerated
in England was St. Jerome’s Latin translation which dated back to the 4th
century. It was thus a closed book even to most clergymen. Tyndale was
determined to make God’s Word accessible to all men.