William Tyndale

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William Tyndale

William Tyndale (1494-1536) was a religious reformer and an important translator of the Bible into English. His translation of the New Testament from Greek has been acclaimed as one of the finest translations ever undertaken, and much of its language survived into the King James (Authorized) Bible of 1611, and from there into most modern English Bibles. He was born circa 1494, in the tiny hamlet of North Nibley, Gloucestershire. Tyndale was educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, where he was admitted to the Degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1512. In 1515 he was made Master of Arts and ordained into the priesthood.

Originally, Tyndale sought the approval of the Roman Catholic Church authorities for his planned translation of the Bible; he went to London to meet with Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall, a well-known scholar of Greek and Latin. Tunstall, however, held strongly to the Church's belief, held since the days of Wyclif, that to translate the Bible into English would be to make it vulnerable to all kinds of misreadings and disputes. Tyndale, however, was not discouraged, and with the help of patrons in London began his translation of the New Testament, which he completed at Hamburg in 1524. According to some accounts, he visited Martin Luther at Wittenberg, though there is no documentary evidence of their having met. In 1526, his New Testament was published in Worms, at the time a Protestant stronghold, and copies were smuggled into England. Cardinal Wolsey, when he saw these books and learned of Tyndale's involvement, condemned him as a heretic and wrote out a warrant for his arrest. He was later murdered by Roman Catholics by being strangled and burnt at the stake. Tyndale was betrayed by Henry Philips, an agent of the Roman Catholic Church and the King of England, which sought to kill Tyndale as a heretic and traitor for translating the Bible into English. He was arrested and imprisoned in the castle of Vilvoorden, tried and convicted; was first strangled, and then burnt in the prison yard, Oct. 6, 1536. [1]