Who Is William Tyndale? What Did William Tyndale Do?

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Who is William Tyndale? What did William Tyndale do? Information about William Tyndale biography, life story, works and reforms.

William TyndaleWilliam Tyndale; (c. 1494-1535), English religious reformer, who translated the New Testament and the Pentateuch into English. Tyndale (also spelled Tindal or Tindale) was born in Gloucestershire, probably in 1494. He entered Oxford University in 1510 and received his M. A. in 1515. About 1519 he went to Cambridge and was there until 1522, when he became tutor to the children of Sir John Walsh of Little Sodbury Manor in Gloucestershire—in a neighborhood that had once been a center of Wycliffite reform. Tyndale soon came into conflict with the wealthy and conservative ecclesiastical
authorities who visited the manor, and the next year he went to London. It is probable that he already planned to translate the New Testament (so that, as he said, “every plough-boy” might read it), for he took with him a translation of a speech of Isocrates as proof of his ability and hoped, apparently, to gain the approval and the sponsorship of the bishop of London (Cuthbert Tonstall). In this he was unsuccessful, partly because the bishop (who, though a humanist, was also a suave politician) questioned the need of an English translation, partly because Tyndale was already under the influence of Martin Luther and hence was probably suspect by the English ecclesiastical authorities.

Aware of the mounting dangers that confronted him and aided by a group of wealthy and influential cloth merchants in London, chiefly by Humphrey Monmouth, he went to Hamburg in 1524 and at once journeyed to Wittenberg to visit Luther and to register at the university (May 27, 1524). Here he remained until April 1525. Still working at his translation, he now had the not too valuable assistance of William Boye, an indiscreet English student at Wittenberg. The printing of the translation was begun at Cologne in 1525, but was stopped by an injunction obtained by Johann Dobeneck (Cochlaeus), formerly dean of St. Mary’s Church in Frankfurt am Main and a vain and conceited man, who hated the Beformation and opposed it in every possible way. Tyndale fled to Worms, where the book was printed (6,000 copies, 8 vols., 1525; 2d ed., 1534; 3d ed., 1535). Copies of the translation were smuggled into England, where Archbishop Warham and Bishop Tonstall ordered them seized and burned. An attempt was also made to seize Tyndale, but he fled to Marburg and the protection of the landgrave of Hesse. Here Tyndale adopted Zwingli s view of the Eucharist and published several theological works: The Parable of Wicked Mammon, The Obedience of a Christen Man and How Christen Rulers Ought to Govern (both in 1528), and The Practyse of Prelates (1530). During this period he also engaged in -a vigorous theological controversy with Sir Thomas More and also published his translation of the Pcntateuch. From Marburg he went to the Netherlands about 1530, residing in Antwerp, but left for a time in 1533, when Henry VIII endeavored to seize him for trial in England.

In May 1535, Tyndale was captured in Antwerp by officers of the emperor, assisted by an English ne’er-do-well named Henry Phillips, who had won his confidence by professing to share his views. He was imprisoned at Vilvorde, 6 miles (10 km) north of Brussels. Despite efforts by Thomas Cromwell and others to save him, he was tried for heresy, condemned, degraded from holy orders, strangled, and his body burned in October 1536. His last words were a prayer, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”

A fragment of the interrupted Cologne printing of his New Testament is in the British Museum. There are two extant copies of the first edition of the complete New Testament (1525): one, almost complete, is in the Baptist College, Bristol, England; the other, incomplete, is in the library of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Copies of his Pentateuch (Marburg 1529-1530) and Jonah (Antwerp 1531) are in the British Museum. Tyndale’s influence upon English literature was very great, chiefly through the use made of his renderings in the King James Version of the Bible (1611); it is estimated that 60 percent of the English New Testament is derived from Tyndale. There is an edition of his other writings published by the Parker Society (three volumes, 1848-1850)






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