Who is William Tyndale? He holds the distinction of being the first man to ever print the New Testament in the English language. Tyndale also went on to first translate much of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew into English, but he was executed in 1536 for the “crime” of printing the scriptures in
English before he could personally complete the printing of an entire Bible. His friends Myles Coverdale, and John “Thomas Matthew” Rogers, managed to evade arrest and publish entire Bibles in the English language for the first time, and within one year of Tyndale’s death. These Bibles were primarily the work of William Tyndale.
On this day in history, 6th October 1536-Traditional date given to the execution of reformer, scholar and Bible translator, William Tyndale.
Tyndale, whose works include “The Obedience of a Christian Man” (a book Anne Boleyn shared with Henry VIII), had incurred the wrath of Henry VIII after the publication of his “The Practyse of Prelates”, in which he opposed Henry VIII’s planned annulment from Catherine of Aragon.
Henry VIII was determined to get the man he viewed as a traitor and heretic apprehended and in 1535, Tyndale was betrayed by an Englishman, Henry Philips, and arrested in Antwerp.
Chapter 12 of John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, The Life and Story of the True Servant and Martyr of God, William Tyndale
Tyndale, remaining in prison, was proffered an advocate and a procurator; the which he refused, saying that he would make answer for himself. He had so preached to them who had him in charge, and such as was there conversant with him in the Castle that they reported of him, that if he were not a good Christian man, they knew not whom they might take to be one.
At last, after much reasoning, when no reason would serve, although he deserved no death, he was condemned by virtue of the emperor’s decree, made in the assembly at Augsburg. Brought forth to the place of execution, he was tied to the stake, strangled by the hangman, and afterwards consumed with fire, at the town of Vilvorde, A.D. 1536; crying at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice, “Lord! open the king of England’s eyes.”
Such was the power of his doctrine, and the sincerity of his life, that during the time of his imprisonment (which endured a year and a half), he converted, it is said, his keeper, the keeper’s daughter, and others of his household.
As touching his translation of the New Testament, because his enemies did so much carp at it, pretending it to be full of heresies, he wrote to John Frith, as followeth, “I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God’s Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me.”
Quoting the book,
“Suffice it to say, that he [Tyndale] was one of those who by his works shone as a sun of light amidst a dark world, and gave evidence that he was a faithful servant of his master and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Tyndale’s work lives on today in the King James Bible, which drew on his earlier translations.
Recommended: Watch this Biopic of William Tyndale – God’s Outlaw