William Tyndale, English Bible Translator

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William Tyndale

Also Known As: "William Tyndall"
Birthplace: Probably Dursley, Gloucestershire, England
Death: Died in Vilvoorde, (Present Flemish Brabant), Graafschap Vlaanderen, Heilige Roomse Rijk (Present Belgium)
Cause of death: Strangled to death while tied at the stake, and then his dead body was burned
Place of Burial: Vilvoorde, Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard Tyndale and Tebota Huchins
Brother of Richard Tyndale, of Melkham's Court; John Tyndale and Edward Tyndall, of Hurst in Slimbridge

Occupation: Translated the Bible into English, Translated Engish Bible
Managed by: Ann
Last Updated:

About William Tyndale, English Bible Translator

From the English Wikipedia page on William Tyndale:


William Tyndale (sometimes spelled Tindall, Tindill, Tyndall; c. 1492 – 1536) was an English scholar and translator who became a leading figure in Protestant reformism towards the end of his life. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and Martin Luther.[1] Tyndale was the first to translate considerable parts of the Bible from the original languages (Greek and Hebrew) into English, for a public, lay readership. While a number of partial and complete translations had been made from the seventh century onward, particularly during the 14th century, Tyndale's was the first English translation to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, and the first to take advantage of the new medium of print, which allowed for its wide distribution. This was taken to be a direct challenge to the hegemony of both the Roman Catholic Church and the English church and state. Tyndale also wrote, in 1530, The Practyse of Prelates, opposing Henry VIII's divorce on the grounds that it contravened scriptural law. In 1535, Tyndale was arrested by church authorities and jailed in the castle of Vilvoorde outside Brussels for over a year. He was tried for heresy, strangled and burnt at the stake in 1536. The Tyndale Bible, as it was known, continued to play a key role in spreading Reformation ideas across Europe. The fifty-four independent scholars who created the King James Version of the bible in 1611 drew significantly on Tyndale's translations. One estimation suggests the New Testament in the King James Version is 83% Tyndale's, and the Old Testament 76%.[2]


Tyndale was born around 1490, possibly in one of the villages near Dursley, Gloucestershire.[3]

Within his immediate family, the Tyndales were also known at that period as Hychyns (Hitchins), and it was as William Hychyns that Tyndale was educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford. Tyndale's family had migrated to Gloucestershire at some point in the fifteenth century - quite probably as a result of the Wars of the Roses.

The family derived from Northumberland via East Anglia. He was the son of John Tyndale and Amphyllis Coningsby. Documentation shows that Tyndale's uncle, Edward, was receiver to the lands of Lord Berkeley, and gives account of the Tyndale family origins. Edward Tyndale is recorded in two genealogies[4] as having been the brother of Sir William Tyndale, KB, of Deane, Northumberland, and Hockwald, Norfolk, who was knighted at the marriage of Arthur, Prince of Wales to Katherine of Aragon. Tyndale's family was therefore derived from Baron Adam de Tyndale, a tenant-in-chief of Henry I (and whose family history is related in Tyndall). William Tyndale's niece was Margaret Tyndale who married Rowland Taylor "The Martyr".

At Oxford

Tyndale began a Bachelor of Arts degree at Oxford University in 1512; the same year becoming a subdeacon. He was made Master of Arts in July 1515 and was held to be a man of virtuous disposition, leading an unblemished life.[5] The MA allowed him to start studying theology, but the official course did not include the study of scripture.

He was a gifted linguist, over the years becoming fluent in French, Greek, Hebrew, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish, in addition to his native English.[6]

Between 1517 and 1521, he went to the University of Cambridge. Erasmus was the leading teacher of Greek there from August 1511 to January 1514, but during Tyndale's time at the university Erasmus was away.[7] According to Monyahan, Tyndale may have met Thomas Bilney and John Frith whilst there.[8]

Tyndale became chaplain to the house of Sir John Walsh at Little Sodbury and tutor to his children in about 1521. His opinions proved controversial to fellow clergymen, and around 1522 he was called before John Bell, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester, though no formal charges were laid.[9]

Soon afterwards, Tyndale determined to translate the Bible into English, convinced that the way to God was through His word and that scripture should be available even to common people. John Foxe describes an argument with a "learned" but "blasphemous" clergyman, who had asserted to Tyndale that, "We had better be without God's laws than the Pope's." Swelling with emotion, Tyndale responded: "I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!" [10][11]

Tyndale left for London in 1523 to seek permission to translate the Bible into English. He requested help from Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall, a well-known classicist who had praised Erasmus after working together with him on a Greek New Testament. The bishop, however, had little regard for Tyndale's scholarly credentials; like many highly-placed churchmen, he was suspicious of Tyndale's theology and was uncomfortable with the idea of the Bible in the vernacular. The Church at this time did not support any English translation of scripture. Tunstall told Tyndale he had no room for him in his household.[12]

Tyndale preached and studied "at his book" in London for some time, relying on the help of a cloth merchant, Humphrey Monmouth. During this time he lectured widely, including at St Dunstan-in-the-West.

In Europe

He then left England and landed on the continent, perhaps at Hamburg, in the spring of the year 1524, possibly travelling on to Wittenberg. This seems likely given that the name "Guillelmus Daltici ex Anglia“ (a Latin pseudonym for "William Tyndale from England") was entered at that time in the matriculation registers of the University Wittenberg .[13] At this time, possibly in Wittenberg, he began translating the New Testament, completing it in 1525, with assistance from Observant friar William Roy.

In 1525, publication of the work by Peter Quentell, in Cologne, was interrupted by impact of anti-Lutheranism. It was not until 1526 that a full edition of the New Testament was produced by the printer Peter Schoeffer in Worms, a free imperial city then in the process of adopting Lutheranism.[14] More copies were soon printed in Antwerp.

The book was smuggled into England and Scotland, and was condemned in October 1526 by Tunstall, who issued warnings to booksellers and had copies burned in public.[15] Marius notes that the "spectacle of the scriptures being put to the torch" "provoked controversy even amongst the faithful."[15] Cardinal Wolsey condemned Tyndale as a heretic, being first mentioned in open court as a heretic in January 1529.[16]

From an entry in George Spalatin's Diary, on August 11, 1526, it seems that Tyndale remained at Worms about a year. A mystery hangs over the period between his departure from Worms and his final settlement at Antwerp. The colophon to Tyndale's translation of Genesis and the title pages of several pamphlets from this time are purported to have been printed by Hans Luft at Marburg. A clear link is, however, questionable. Hans Luft, the printer of Luther's books, never had a printing press at Marburg.[citation needed]

Around 1529, it is possible that Tyndale went into hiding in Hamburg, carrying on his work. He revised his New Testament and began translating the Old Testament and writing various treatises.

Opposition to Henry VIII's divorce

In 1530, he wrote The Practyse of Prelates, opposing Henry VIII's planned divorce from Catherine of Aragon, in favour of Anne Boleyn, on the grounds that it was unscriptural and was a plot by Cardinal Wolsey to get Henry entangled in the papal courts of Pope Clement VII.[17] The king's wrath was aimed at Tyndale: Henry asked the emperor Charles V to have the writer apprehended and returned to England under the terms of the Treaty of Cambrai, however the emperor responded that formal evidence was required before extradition.[18] Tyndale made his case in An Answer unto Sir Thomas More's Dialogue. In 1532 Thomas More published a six volume Confutation of Tyndale's Answer, in which he alleged Tyndale was a traitor and a heretic.[19][20]

Betrayal and death

Eventually, Tyndale was betrayed by Henry Phillips to the authorities, seized in Antwerp in 1535 and held in the castle of Vilvoorde near Brussels.[21] He was tried[ on a charge of heresy in 1536 and condemned to death, despite Thomas Cromwell's intercession on his behalf. Tyndale "was strangled to death while tied at the stake, and then his dead body was burned".[22]

Tyndale's final words, spoken "at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice", were reported as "Lord! Open the King of England's eyes."[23] The traditional date of commemoration is 6 October, but records of Tyndale's imprisonment suggest the actual date of his execution might have been some weeks earlier.[24] Foxe gives 6 October as the date of commemoration (left-hand date column), but gives no date of death.[21]

Within four years, at the same king's behest, four English translations of the Bible were published in England,[25] including Henry's official Great Bible. All were based on Tyndale's work.

Theological views

Tyndale denounced the practice of prayer to saints,[26] He taught justification by faith, adult baptism, the return of Christ, and mortality of the soul.[27]

Printed works

Most well known for his translation of the Bible, Tyndale was an active writer and translator. Not only did Tyndale's works focus on the way in which religion should be carried out, but were also greatly keyed towards the political arena.

"They have ordained that no man shall look on the Scripture, until he be noselled in heathen learning eight or nine years and armed with false principles, with which he is an clean shut out of the understanding of the Scripture."

  • 1525 The New Testament Translation (incomplete) Cologne
  • 1526* The New Testament Translation (first full printed edition in English) Worms
  • 1526 A compendious introduccion, prologue or preface into the epistle of Paul to the Romans
  • 1528 The parable of the wicked mammon Antwerp
  • 1528 The Obedience of a Christen Man[28] (and how Christen rulers ought to govern...) Antwerp Merten de Keyser
  • 1530* The five books of Moses [the Pentateuch] Translation (each book with individual title page) Antwerp Merten de Keyser
  • 1530 The practyse of prelates Antwerp Merten de Keyser
  • 1531 The exposition of the fyrste epistle of seynt Jhon with a prologge before it Antwerp Merten de Keyser
  • 1531? The prophete Jonas Translation Antwerp Merten de Keyser
  • 1531 An answere vnto sir Thomas Mores dialogue
  • 1533? An exposicion vppon the. v. vi. vii. chapters of Mathew
  • 1533 Erasmus: Enchiridion militis Christiani Translation
  • 1534 The New Testament Translation (thoroughly revised, with a second foreword against George Joye's unauthorized changes in an edition of Tyndale's New Testament published earlier in the same year) Antwerp Merten de Keyser
  • 1535 The testament of master Wylliam Tracie esquier, expounded both by W. Tindall and J. Frith
  • 1536? A path way into the holy scripture
  • 1537 The bible, which is all the holy scripture Translation (only in part Tyndale's)
  • 1548? A briefe declaration of the sacraments
  • 1573 The whole workes of W. Tyndall, John Frith, and Doct. Barnes, edited by John Foxe
  • 1848* Doctrinal Treatises and Introductions to Different Portions of the Holy Scriptures
  • 1849* Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures Together with the Practice of Prelates
  • 1850* An Answer to Sir Thomas More's Dialogue, The Supper of the Lord after the True Meaning of John VI. and I Cor. XI., and William Tracy's Testament Expounded
  • 1964* The Work of William Tyndale
  • 1989** Tyndale's New Testament
  • 1992** Tyndale's Old Testament

[*] These works were printed more than once, usually signifying a revision or reprint. However the 1525 edition was printed as an incomplete quarto and was then reprinted in 1526 as a complete octavo. [**] These works were reprints of Tyndale's earlier translations revised for modern spelling.


Impact on the English language

In translating the Bible, Tyndale introduced new words into the English language, and many were subsequently used in the King James Bible:

  • Jehovah (from a transliterated Hebrew construction in the Old Testament; composed from the Tetragrammaton YHWH.
  • Passover (as the name for the Jewish holiday, Pesach or Pesah)

scapegoat (the goat that bears the sins and iniquities of the people in Leviticus, Chapter 16)

  • Coinage of the word atonement (a concatenation of the words 'At One' to describe Christ's work of restoring a good relationship—a reconciliation—between God and people)[29] is also sometimes ascribed to Tyndale.[30][31] However, the word was probably in use by at least 1513, before Tyndale's translation.[32][33]
  • Similarly, sometimes Tyndale is said to have coined the term mercy seat.[34] While it is true that Tyndale introduced the word into English, mercy seat is more accurately a translation of Martin Luther's German Gnadenstuhl.[35]

As well as individual words, Tyndale also coined such familiar phrases as:

  • lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
  • knock and it shall be opened unto you
  • twinkling of an eye (another translation from Luther)[34]
  • a moment in time
  • fashion not yourselves to the world
  • seek and you shall find
  • ask and it shall be given you
  • judge not that you not be judged
  • the word of God which liveth and lasteth forever
  • let there be light (Luther translated Genesis 1,3 as: Es werde Licht, which would be word for word translated: It will be light)
  • the powers that be
  • my brother's keeper
  • the salt of the earth
  • a law unto themselves
  • filthy lucre
  • it came to pass
  • gave up the ghost
  • the signs of the times
  • the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (which is like Luther's translation of Mathew 26,41: der Geist ist willig, aber das Fleisch ist schwach; Wyclif for example translated it with: for the spirit is ready, but the flesh is sick.)
  • live and move and have our being
  • fight the good fight

Controversy over new words and phrases

The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church did not approve of some of the words and phrases introduced by Tyndale, such as "overseer", where the it would have understood as "bishop," "elder" for "priest," and "love" rather than "charity." Tyndale, citing Erasmus, contended that the Greek New Testament did not support the traditional Roman Catholic readings. More controversially, Tyndale translated the Greek "ekklesia," (literally "called out ones"[36]) as "congregation" rather than "Church."[37] It has been asserted this translation choice "was a direct threat to the Church's ancient--but so Tyndale here made clear, non-scriptural--claim to be the body of Christ on earth. To change these words was to strip the Church hierarchy of its pretensions to be Christ's terrestrial representative, and to award this honour to individual worshipers who made up each congregation."[37]

Contention from Roman Catholics came not only from real or perceived errors in translation but also a fear of the erosion of their social power if Christians could read the bible in their own language.

"The Pope's dogma is bloody," Tyndale wrote in his Obedience of a Christian Man.[38]

Thomas More commented that searching for errors in the Tyndale Bible was similar to searching for water in the sea, and charged Tyndale's translation of Obedience of a Christian Man with having about a thousand falsely translated errors. Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall of London declared that there were upwards of 2,000 errors in Tyndale's Bible. Tunstall in 1523 had denied Tyndale the permission required under the Constitutions of Oxford (1409), which were still in force, to translate the Bible into English.

In response to allegations of inaccuracies in his translation in the New Testament, Tyndale in the Prologue to his 1525 translation wrote that he never intentionally altered or misrepresented any of the Bible in his translation, but that he had sought to "interpret the sense of the scripture and the meaning of the spirit."[37]

While translating, Tyndale followed Erasmus' (1522) Greek edition of the New Testament. In his Preface to his 1534 New Testament ("WT unto the Reader"), he not only goes into some detail about the Greek tenses but also points out that there is often a Hebrew idiom underlying the Greek. The Tyndale Society adduces much further evidence to show that his translations were made directly from the original Hebrew and Greek sources he had at his disposal. For example, the Prolegomena in Mombert's William Tyndale's Five Books of Moses show that Tyndale's Pentateuch is a translation of the Hebrew original. His translation also drew on Latin Vulgate and Luther's 1521 September Testament.[37]

Of the first (1526) edition of Tyndale's New Testament, only three copies survive. The only complete copy is part of the Bible Collection of Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart. The copy of the British Library is almost complete, lacking only the title page and list of contents. Another rarity of Tyndale's is the Pentateuch of which only nine remain.

Impact on the English Bible

The translators of the Revised Standard Version in the 1940s noted that Tyndale's translation inspired the great translations that followed, including the Great Bible of 1539, the Geneva Bible of 1560, the Bishops' Bible of 1568, the Douay-Rheims Bible of 1582–1609, and the King James Version of 1611, of which the RSV translators noted: "It [the KJV] kept felicitous phrases and apt expressions, from whatever source, which had stood the test of public usage. It owed most, especially in the New Testament, to Tyndale".

Many scholars today believe that such is the case. Moynahan writes: "A complete analysis of the Authorised Version, known down the generations as "the AV" or "the King James" was made in 1998. It shows that Tyndale's words account for 84% of the New Testament and for 75.8% of the Old Testament books that he translated.[39] Joan Bridgman makes the comment in the Contemporary Review that, "He [Tyndale] is the mainly unrecognised translator of the most influential book in the world. Although the Authorised King James Version is ostensibly the production of a learned committee of churchmen, it is mostly cribbed from Tyndale with some reworking of his translation."

Many of the great English versions since then have drawn inspiration from Tyndale, such as the Revised Standard Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the English Standard Version. Even the paraphrases like the Living Bible have been inspired by the same desire to make the Bible understandable to Tyndale's proverbial ploughboy.[40][41]


  • 1.^ Scientifically proven, see: Tyndale, William (tr.); Martin, Priscilla (ed.) (2002); p. xvi and see also: Daniell, David (1994) William Tyndale: a biography. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, p. 114, line 33 and see also: Vogel, Gudrun (2009) "Tyndale, William" in: Der Brockhaus in sechs Bänden. Mannheim/Leipzig: Brockhaus Verlag and see also: Zwahr. A. (2004) Tyndale, William" in: Meyers Großes Taschenwörterbuch. Mannheim: Bibliographisches Institut
  • 2.^ Tadmor, Naomi (2010). The Social Universe of the English Bible: Scripture, Society, and Culture in Early Modern England. Cambridge UP. pp. 16. ISBN 9780521769716. Tadmor cites the work of John Nielson and Royal Skousen, "How Much of the King James Bible is William Tyndale's? An Estimation Based on Sampling," Reformation 3 (1998): 49-74.
  • 3.^ His date of birth is unclear, with sources giving dates varying between 1484 and 1496.
  • 4.^ John Nichol, Literary Anecdotes, Vol IX: Tindal genealogy; Burke's Landed Gentry, 19th century editions, 'Tyndale of Haling'
  • 5.^ Brian Moynahan. William Tyndale. If God Spare my Life. Abacus. London. 2003. p11.
  • 6.^ eg Daniell, David (1994) William Tyndale: a biography. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, p. 18
  • 7.^ eg Daniell, David (1994) William Tyndale: a biography. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, p. 49-50
  • 8.^ Brian Moynahan. William Tyndale. If God Spare my Life. Abacus. London. 2003. p21.
  • 9.^ Brian Moynahan. William Tyndale. If God Spare my Life. Abacus. London. 2003. p28
  • 10.^ Lecture by Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB MA (Oxon) STL LSS
  • 11.^ Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Chap XII
  • 12.^ Tyndale, preface to Five bokes of Moses (1530).
  • 13.^ eg The Life of William Tyndale – Tyndale in Germany – by Dr. Herbert Samworth
  • 14.^ Joannes Cochlaeus, Commentaria de Actis et Scriptis Martini Lutheri (St Victor, near Mainz: Franciscus Berthem, 1549), p. 134.
  • 15.^ a b Peter Ackroyd. The Life of Thomas More. Vintage, London 1999. p270.
  • 16.^ Brian Moynahan. William Tyndale. If God Spare my Life. Abacus. London. 2003. p177
  • 17.^ Richard Marius Thomas More: a biography 1999 p388 "... English kings on one side and the wicked popes and English bishops on the other. Cardinal Wolsey embodies the culmination of centuries of conspiracy, and Tyndale's hatred of Wolsey is so nearly boundless that it seems pathological."
  • 18.^ Bellamy J. G. The Tudor law of treason: an introduction 1979 p89 "Henry claimed that Tyndale was spreading sedition, but the emperor expressed his doubts and argued that he must examine the case and discover proof of the English king's assertion before delivering the wanted man. (29)"
  • 19.^ Brian Moynahan. William Tyndale. If God Spare my Life. Abacus, London ISBN 034911532 p248.
  • 20.^ Moynahan means that More "despised, feared and loathed Tyndale; he, and his English Testament, were the obsessions of More's life. His hatred was not slaked by the savaging he had given Tyndale in his Dialogue, nor by the half a million words he had poured into the Confutation, this was mere flood of ink, where More was satisfied only by blood and the flames of the 'shorte fyre." Monynahan makes the case that More was a powerful factor in the betrayal and death of Tyndale. Compare. Brian Moynahan. William Tyndale. If God Spare my Life. Abacus, London ISBN 034911532 p340.
  • 21.^ John Foxe, Actes and Monuments (1570), VIII.1228 (Foxe's Book of Martyrs Variorum Edition Online).
  • 22.^ Michael Farris, "From Tyndale to Madison", 2007, p. 37.
  • 23.^ John Foxe, Actes and Monuments (1570), VIII.1229 (Foxe's Book of Martyrs Variorum Edition Online).
  • 24.^ Arblaster, Paul (2002). "An Error of Dates?". Retrieved 2007-10-07.
  • 25.^ Miles Coverdale's, Thomas Matthew's, Richard Taverner's, and the Great Bible
  • 26.^ Goldrick 1979 "William Tyndale pointedly and repeatedly denounced the practice of praying to the saints, because he could find no "
  • 27.^ The Soul Sleepers: Christian Mortalism from Wycliffe to Priestley Bryan W. Ball - 2008 "D. Daniell, William Tyndale, A Biography (New Haven and London, 1 994), 269-74; 322-26. See ch. 2, pp. 48ff for Tyndale's mortalism."
  • 28.^ The Obedience Of A Christian Man
  • 29.^ Niels-erik A. Andreasen, 'Atonement/Expiation in the Old Testament' in W. E. Mills (ed.), Mercer dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1990)
  • 30.^ Alister E. McGrath, Christian literature: an anthology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2001), p. 357
  • 31.^ Campbell Gillon, Words to Trust (Rowman & Littlefield, 1991), p. 42
  • 32.^ 'atonement' in OED: '1513 MORE Rich. III Wks. 41 Having more regarde to their olde variaunce then their newe attonement. [...] 1513 MORE Edw. V Wks. 40 Of which . . none of vs hath any thing the lesse nede, for the late made attonemente.'
  • 33.^ Douglas Harper, 'atone' in Online Etymology Dictionary (accessed 15/01/11).
  • 34.^ Naseeb Shaheen, Biblical references in Shakespeare's plays (University of Delaware Press, 1999), p. 18
  • 35.^ Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1996), p. 232 n. 62
  • 36.^ Believer's Study Bible (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997. Rev 22:17, "the word...ekklesia....is a compound word coming from the word kaleo, meaning 'to call,' and ek, meaning 'out of.' Thus...'the called-out ones.' Eph 5:23, "This is the same word used by the Greeks for their assembly of citizens who were 'called out' to transact the business of the city. The word...implies...'assembly.'
  • 37.^ Brian Moynahan. William Tyndale. If God Spare my Life. Abacus, London ISBN 034911532 p72
  • 38.^ Brian Moynahan. William Tyndale. If God Spare my Life. Abacus, London ISBN 034911532 p152.
  • 39.^ Brian Moynahan. William Tyndale. If God Spare My Life. Abacus, London. 2003 pp1-2.
  • 40.^ The Bible in the Renaissance - William Tyndale
  • 41.^ http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Martyrs/Chapter_XII


Further references

  • Adapted from J.I. Mombert, "Tyndale, William," in Philip Schaff, Johann Jakob Herzog, et al., eds., The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1904, reprinted online by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Additional references are available there.
  • David Daniell, William Tyndale, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  • William Tyndale, The New Testament, (Worms, 1526; Reprinted in original spelling and pagination by The British Library, 2000 ISBN 07123-4664-3)
  • William Tyndale, The New Testament, (Antwerp, 1534; Reprinted in modern English spelling, complete with Prologues to the books and marginal notes, with the original Greek paragraphs, by Yale University Press, 1989 ISBN 0-300-04419-4)
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: *Jackson, Samuel Macauley, ed (1914). "article name needed". New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (third ed.). London and New York: Funk and Wagnalls Co..
  • Paul Arblaster, Gergely Juhász, Guido Latré (eds) Tyndale's Testament hardback ISBN 2-503-51411-1 Brepols 2002
  • Day, John T. "Sixteenth-Century British Nondramatic Writers" Dictionary of Literary Biography 1.132 1993 :296-311
  • Foxe, Acts and Monuments
  • Cahill, Elizabeth Kirkl "A bible for the plowboy", Commonweal 124.7: 1997

The Norton Anthology: English Literature. Ed. Julia Reidhead. New York: New York, Eighth Edition, 2006. 621.

  • Brian Moynahan, God's Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible---A Story of Martyrdom and Betrayal St. Martin's Press, 2003
  • John Piper, Desiring God Ministries, "Why William Tyndale Lived and Died" [1]
  • William Tyndale: A hero for the information age," The Economist, 2008 December 20, pp. 101-103. [2] The online version corrects the name of Tyndale's Antwerp landlord as "Thomas Pointz" vice the "Henry Pointz" indicated in the print edition.
  • Ralph S. Werrell, "The Theology of William Tyndale." ISBN 0 227 67985 7. With a Foreword by Dr. Rowan Williams. Published by James Clarke & Co.

External links

History of English Bible versions from Tyndale to the King James Version

Works by William Tyndale at Project Gutenberg

Look Higher ! - Download the 1530 Tyndale Bible in PDF format

Find A Grave Entry

Dictionary of the National Biography:


From notes by Robin Wood:

WILLIAM (THE MARTYR) TYNDALE, b. 1494, Probaby North Nibley, Gloucester; d. 1536, Vilvoorden, Belgium.


From Hertford College - Old Members

Tyndale, William c.1494-1536. William Tyndale was probably born in Gloucestershire. He became chaplain in the house of Sir John Walsh in about 1521. He had studied at both Oxford and Cambridge and was a strong supporter of the movement for reform in the Church. His opinions involved him in controversy with his fellow clergymen and about 1522 he was actually summoned before the Chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester on a charge of heresy. He left for London. He had by this time determined to translate the Bible into English. He had admired the teaching of Erasmus at Cambridge (he made an English translation of the master's Enchiridion) and was certain in his heart that the way to God was through His word - scripture should be available even to 'a boy that driveth the plough'.

But in London Tyndale was firmly rebuffed when he sought the support of Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall, who was uneasy, like many highly placed churchmen, with the idea of the Bible in the vernacular. Tyndale, with the help of Humphrey Monmouth, a merchant of means, left England under a false name and landed at Hamburg in 1524. He had already begun work on the translation of the New Testament.

He visited Luther at Wittenberg and in the following year completed his translation. The printing was begun with William Roye, another reformist Cambridge man, at Cologne. But Roye was indiscreet and the work was soon being talked about. The city magistrates, at the behest of the anti-Lutheran theologian Johannes Cochlaeus, ordered the printing to stop. Only a few sheets were saved before Tyndale fled to Worms; among them was that containing his Prologue, which was later enlarged and called A Pathway into the Holy Scripture.

The printing was successfully carried out at Worms. Copies of the New Testament in English arrived in Tyndale's country in 1526, and the work was given a very hostile reception by the Church. The reforming movement had insisted, since the time of John Wycliffe, that the scriptures should be available to everyone and not kept in the hands of the establishment so that they could make their own rules. But while the established Church could make no real case against a Bible in the vernacular, it could rest on its massive authority and mutter threateningly about tendentious comment - and Tyndale's New Testament carried a great deal of comment. Tunstall (predictably) and Archbishop Warham denounced it; so did Thomas More, who was against every manifestation of Luther's Reformation. Wolsey demanded Tyndale's arrest as a heretic.

Tyndale went into hiding - in Hamburg, it is believed, for a time - and went on working. He revised his New Testament and began the translation of the Old. He wrote A Prologue on the Epistle to the Romans (1526), Parable of the Wicked Mammon, and Obedience of a Christian Man (1528). He printed his translation of the Pentateuch (1530) and Jonah (1531). In 1530 he wrote The Practice of Prelates which, in its opposition to Henry VIII's divorce (he objected to the grounds for it), seemed to move him briefly to the opposing side. It brought down on his head the wrath of the king, who asked the emperor to have Tyndale seized and returned to England.

Eventually an English spy in the Netherlands, Henry Phillips, betrayed Tyndale to the imperial authorities. He was arrested in Antwerp in 1535 and confined in the castle of Vilvorde, near Brussels. He was tried on a charge of heresy in 1536 and condemned to the stake in spite of Thomas Cromwell's attempt to intercede on his behalf. He was mercifully strangled before the fires were lighted. He left the manuscript of his translation of the Old Testament books Joshua to the Second Book of Chronicles. In the year of Tyndale's death his New Testament in English was actually printed in England and before long other scholars were hurrying the great work to completion. The climate of reform had helped the matter along and Henry VIII encouraged it.

Tyndale returned to Greek and Hebrew sources for his English Bible and his sharp, lucid English style set the character for every translation that followed.


FROM GREATsite.com

English Bible History

William Tyndale

William Tyndale was the Captain of the Army of Reformers, and was their spiritual leader. Tyndale holds the distinction of being the first man to ever print the New Testament in the English language. Tyndale was a true scholar and a genius, so fluent in eight languages that it was said one would think any one of them to be his native tongue. He is frequently referred to as the “Architect of the English Language”, (even more so than William Shakespeare) as so many of the phrases Tyndale coined are still in our language today.

William Tyndale (1494-1536) Biblical translator and martyr; born most probably at North Nibley (15 miles south-west of Gloucester), England, in 1494; died at Vilvoorden (6 miles north-east of Brussels), Belgium, Oct. 6, 1536. Tyndale was descended from an ancient Northumbrian family, went to school at Oxford, and afterward to Magdalen Hall and Cambridge.

William Tyndale Overview

Tyndale was a theologian and scholar who translated the Bible into an early form of Modern English. He was the first person to take advantage of Gutenberg’s movable-type press for the purpose of printing the scriptures in the English language. Besides translating the Bible, Tyndale also held and published views which were considered heretical, first by the Catholic Church, and later by the Church of England which was established by Henry VIII. His Bible translation also included notes and commentary promoting these views. Tyndale's translation was banned by the authorities, and Tyndale himself was burned at the stake in 1536, at the instigation of agents of Henry VIII and the Anglican Church.

The Early Years of William Tyndale

Tyndale enrolled at Oxford in 1505, and grew up at the University. He received his Master’s Degree in 1515 at the age of twenty-one! He proved to be a gifted linguist. One of Tyndale’s associates commented that Tyndale was “so skilled in eight languages – Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, English, and German, that whichever he speaks, you might think it his native tongue!” This gift undoubtedly aided him in his successful evasion of the authorities during his years of exile from England.

Early Controversy Surrounding Tyndale

Around 1520, William Tyndale became a tutor in the family of Sir John Walsh, at Little Sodbury in Gloucestershire. Having become attached to the doctrines of the Reformation, and devoted himself to the study of the Scriptures, the open avowal of his sentiments in the house of Walsh, his disputes with Roman Catholic dignitaries there, and especially his preaching, excited much opposition, and led to his removal to London (about Oct., 1523), where he began to preach, and made many friends among the laity, but none among church leaders.

A clergyman hopelessly entrenched in Roman Catholic dogma once taunted Tyndale with the statement, “We are better to be without God’s laws than the Pope’s”. Tyndale was infuriated by such Roman Catholic heresies, and he replied, “I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you!”

William Tyndale First Prints The Scripture in English

He was hospitably entertained at the house of Sir Humphrey Monmouth, and also financially aided by him and others in the accomplishment of his purpose to translate the Scriptures into the commonly spoken English of the day. Unable to do so in England, he set out for the continent (about May, 1524), and appears to have visited Hamburg and Wittenberg. The place where he translated the New Testament, is thought to have been Wittenberg, under the aid of Martin Luther. The printing of this English New Testament in quarto was begun at Cologne in the summer of 1525, and completed at Worms, and that there was likewise printed an octavo edition, both before the end of that year. William Tyndale’s Biblical translations appeared in the following order: New Testament, 1525-26; Pentateuch, 1530; Jonah, 1531.

His literary activity during that interval was extraordinary. When he left England, his knowledge of Hebrew, if he had any, was of the most rudimentary nature; and yet he mastered that difficult tongue so as to produce from the original an admirable translation of the entire Pentateuch, the Books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, First Chronicles, contained in Matthew's Bible of 1537, and of the Book of Jonah, so excellent, indeed, that his work is not only the basis of those portions of the Authorized King James Version of 1611, but constitutes nine-tenths of that translation, and very largely that of the English Revised Version of 1885.

In addition to these he produced the following works. His first original composition, A Pathway into the Holy Scripture, is really a reprint, slightly altered, of his Prologue to the quarto edition of his New Testament, and had appeared in separate form before 1532; The Parable of the Wicked Mammon (1527); and The Obedience of a Christian Man (1527-28). These several works drew out in 1529 Sir Thomas More's Dialogue, etc. In 1530 appeared Tyndale's Practyse of Prelates, and in 1531 his Answer to the Dialogue, his Exposition of the First Epistle of St. John, and the famous Prologue to Jonah; in 1532, An Exposition upon the V. VI. VII. Chapters of Matthew; and in 1536, A Brief Declaration of the Sacraments, etc., which seems to be a posthumous publication. Joshua-Second Chronicles also was published after his death.

All these works were written during those mysterious years, in places of concealment so secure and well chosen, that neither the ecclesiastical nor diplomatic emissaries of Wolsey and Henry VIII., charged to track, hunt down, and seize the fugitive, were able to reach them, and they are even yet unknown. Under the idea that the progress of the Reformation in England rendered it safe for him to leave his concealment, he settled at Antwerp in 1534, and combined the work of an evangelist with that of a translator of the Bible.

The Betrayal and Death of William Tyndale

Tyndale was betrayed by a friend, Philips, the agent either of Henry or of English ecclesiastics, or possibly of both. Tyndale was arrested and imprisoned in the castle of Vilvoorden for over 500 days of horrible conditions. He was tried for heresy and treason in a ridiculously unfair trial, and convicted. Tyndale was then strangled and burnt at the stake in the prison yard, Oct. 6, 1536. His last words were, "Lord, open the king of England's eyes." This prayer was answered three years later, in the publication of King Henry VIII’s 1539 English “Great Bible”.

Tyndale's place in history has not yet been sufficiently recognized as a translator of the Scriptures, as an apostle of liberty, and as a chief promoter of the Reformation in England. In all these respects his influence has been singularly under-valued. The sweeping statement found in almost all histories, that Tyndale translated from the Vulgate and Luther, is most damaging to the reputation of the writers who make it; for, as a matter of fact, it is contrary to truth, since his translations are made directly from the originals, with the aid of the Erasmus 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament, and the best available Hebrew texts. The Prolegomena in Mombert's William Tyndale's Five Books of Moses show conclusively that Tyndale's Pentateuch is a translation of the Hebrew original.


Genealogy of the Family of Tyndale by B W Greenfield:-


The assertion of modern writers that the Martyr’s family was derived from an ancient Baronial family of the same name in Northumberland, takes its origin from—and has no better authority than—a vague observation in the 'Life of Tyndale printed in the sixth volume of the ‘Biographia Britannica 1703, viz.: “in what county” he was born “is not mentioned; but the family seems to have sprung from Robert Tyndale” etc.; and for this conjecture of Mr. Jekyll’s Genealogies MS are referred to in the margin.

In the reigns of James and Charles J., Thomas Jekvll, as Secondary of the Court of King’s Bench, and one of the Clerks of the Papers, made use of the uncommon opportunities he possessed of examining and making copious extracts from what arc now termed the Public Records, and more especially with reference to his native county, Essex. We learn from Morant, the Historian of that county in 1708, that the most valuable of Mr. Jekyll's Collections were copies of the Inquisitions post mortem from Hen. III. to 14 Car. I.; pedigrees of the Gentry of Essex in four volumes, and abstracts of Letters Patent from Porridge, attached to a deed, dated 9 March, 13 Jac. I. (1016), of surrender of lease of a tenement and lands within the demesne of Eastwood Park, from Thomas Bay lie to this Thomas Tyndale. This use, however, was not recognized by the authorities; for, according to the Funeral Certificates registered in Heralds* College, the banners served by the College at the funerals of this Thomas Tyndale in 1019, and of Thomas Tyndale, his father, in 1571, bore their shield of arms marshaled thus, viz: Argent, 011 a fess Gules, between the three garbs Sable, a martlet Or.

From an observation of Bishop Stokesley we gain the information that the Martyr was brother of Edward Tyndale. the Receiver of the Lordship of Berkeley. John Stokesley was consecrated Bishop of London 27 November 1530, and died 8 September 1539. Sir Robert Atkyns states that he became, in 1509, Rector of Slimbridge: a parish adjoining to those of Berkeley and Stinch- combe. We may reasonably assume, therefore, that Stokesley’s knowledge of the Martyr’s family and connections was derived from local sources, and not merely from common report.

The Bishop was desirous of obtaining from the Crown a grant of a farm in Gloucestershire for one of his servants. In the Public Record Oflice two of his letters upon this subject are preserved among the ' Miscellaneous Letters, temp. Hen. VIII/ (formerly in the Chapter House), Second Series, vol. xxiii. The person to whom they were addressed is not named, most probably lie was Cromwell, the Secretary of State. The following is the full text of these letters. The words are unchanged, but clothed in modern spelling:—

No. 50. “ Right worshipful, in my most hearty wise 1 commend me unto you with as hearty thanks as 1 can possibly think for your benevolent and friendly mind and favour, effectually shewn in all my business and affairs, whereby you have assuredly bound and shall so find me to be all yours unfeignedly. And for as much as the king’s General Surveyor at my suit and intercession hath already granted to this bringer (bearer) mine old servant, the farm of Greenhampster, in Gloucestershire, and the Indentures already made, and one part thereof scaled, which farm lieth adjoining by my said servant’s house, and therefore near, and should be to him commodious always; and if he should be by any other, now contrary to right, put from it it should be not only to his loss but also great reproach as well to me as to him— such as 1 had lever (rather) have spent double the valor. Therefore, in my most hearty-wise I beseech you to be content that my said servitor may enjoy the said grant and farm according to right as my very trust is in your both favour and justice, and to promote, or commend, no other to put him from his right, especially considering that it is seldom and peradventure shall never chance to be in me thus to succour and aid my said servitor so nigh home; and that other that sucth unto vou hath a kinsman promote, or commend, no other to put him from his right, especially considering that it is seldom and peradventurc shall never chance to be in me thus to succour and aid my said servitor so nigh home; and that other that sucth unto you hath a kinsman called Edward Tyndall, brother to Tyndall the arch-heretic, and under receiver of the Lordship of Berkeley, which (who) may and daily doth promote his kinfolk there by the king's farms. In consideration whereof I eftsoons beseech you to be moved with pity upon this my poor servitor. And I dare undertake that lie shall be to you not only a daily beadsman but also a true and ready servant with his poor kinsfolks and friends at all hours, God pleased, who have you in His blessed and favorable governance. Scribbled at Fulham the xxvjth of January with the rude hand of all your own, Jo. LONDON.”

No. 49. “ Right Worshipful, In my most hearty-wise I com¬mend me unto you with like thanks for your benevolent mind and favour in all my requests heretofore, praying you to take no displeasure with this my return to the pursuing of my last suit to you for your favour towards my servitor, Richard Griffe[n] to whom Sir John Dauney—at my suit—had granted that little farm of Greenhampster in the presence of divers honest gentlemen before von sent to him therefore, which after was notified and published to divers (persons) to be done at my suit, and so is now bruited among mine old friends and acquaintance in the parts \where the thing (farm) lieth: Whereby it should redound to mv great reproach if Edward Tyndale—by his suit—should put my servant, my heed, from that grant; whereby my friends there would think that Edward Tyndall might do more with you and was preferred in your favour before me : which thing would grieve me right sore, besides the common reproach and avaunt (boast) that Tyndall and others of his sect would make upon this triumph; which my trust is that you would also be very loath to ensue. Wherefore, I cftsoons as heartily as 1 can think, I beseech you to be content that Sir John Dauncy may perform his said grant: to me; and this bringer for your favour herein shall deliver unto you xx nobles for a pleasure. And you shall be assured of me to do for any of yours any like, or greater, pleasure at your motion, if it may chance to be in my little power—God willing: Who send you as prosperous life and long as I would to myself. Scribbled hastily at my house in London this xxixth of January, with the rude hand of all your own bound and assured


Thus we are at once informed to what branch of the Gloucestershire family the Martyr belonged. The personal history of Edward Tyndale, as Receiver-General of the Crown revenues of Berkeley’s Lands, in the counties of Gloucester, Somerset, War¬wick, and Essex, Keeper of Whiteliff and Okeley parks, Woodward and Warrener of the whole Lordship of Berkeley, Lessee of the manor of Hurst, in the parish of Slimbridgc, Steward and Auditor of the Abbey of Tewkesbury, and Lessee of the abbey manor of Pull, or Pull Court, in Worcestershire, is well known; and his Pull, or Pull Court, in Worcestershire, is well known; and his descendants to the present time have been traced out.*

In the absence of direct proof, the kinship between this Edward Tyndal and the family at Stineheombe may be assumed from the contiguity of their properties, and from the evidences that remain of their frequent intercourse. I have, in my possession, abstracts, in the handwriting of George Tyndale, of Bathford, made in the year 1762, of the Rev. William Tyndale’s, of Charfield, deeds of title to lands in Nibley and elsewhere in Gloucestershire. One of these is of the deed referred to in Rudder’s ‘ Gloucestershire/ 696; which reference is quoted by Anderson and other biographers of the Martyr. The complete abstract appears further on. The original deed was a settlement, in strict entail, by Alice Tyndale, widow, of her estate in Nibley and Wotton, upon her sons and their heirs—in succession—by conveyance to feoffees to uses. One of the feoffees therein named is this Edward Tyndale. His son, Thomas Tyndale, of Eastwood Park, in Thornbury, became, in 1568, a party in a deed of settle¬ment of the Hunt's Court estate, made by Richard Tyndale, eldest son of this Alice. An abstract of this deed is also given below. The giving the name of ‘ Orianna’ to one of the daughters of Richard Tyndale, of Mclkshams Court, grandson of Alice, after her namesake Orianc Lc Bon, the French heiress, wife of the second Thomas Tyndale, of Eastwood, is significative of a nearer connection than friendly intercourse. To these circum¬stances there is to be added the positive statement of the third Thomas Tyndale, of Eastwood, son of Orianc Le Bon, of the kinship of the two families, in a letter—a copy of which, taken from the original, is now (1877) in the possession of his descendant, Mr. Tyndale, of Per ridge—dated 3 February 1663, to Thomas Tyndale, of Stinchcombe, in which he addresses him as “ cousin,” and concludes, “ I rest your loving kinsman” This letter is given entire in Rudder’s ‘ Gloucestershire/ 756-7. It is from a passage in this letter that the modern story takes its origin, viz., of the ancestor of the Stinchcombe family coming out of the north in the time of the wars between the houses of York and Lancaster, settling in Gloucestershire and changing his name to Hutchins. This, however, is an erroneous assertion, for the family at Stinchcombe did not change their surname, but adopted a double name or alias; and—in the absence of precise knowledge as to the parents of the Martyr—the fact that he called himself “ Tyndale otherwise Hychyn” becomes the more curious and important, as it is the same double name by which the members of the family at Stinchcombe were called and known in the reigns of Edw. IV., Hen. VII., and Hen. VIII.

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The use of the same alias by the Martyr and the family at Stinchcombe; the fact of the Martyr having brothers named Edward and John, and the statements of Stokesley and Smyth conduce to the belief that there were four brothers, viz., Richard of Melksham's Court, the progenitor of the Stinchcombe and Nibley line and its various branches; Edward of Hurst in Slim-bridge and Pull Court, progenitor of the Thornbury line ; William the Martyr, and John the merchant. The Martyr cannot be placed lower down in the pedigree, nor be identified with William the brother of Thomas, of whose history I am able to give an outline.

Other References

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William Tyndale, English Bible Translator's Timeline

Probably Dursley, Gloucestershire, England
October 6, 1536
Age 44
Vilvoorde, (Present Flemish Brabant), Graafschap Vlaanderen, Heilige Roomse Rijk (Present Belgium)
Vilvoorde, Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium