A Quick Look At The Life Of William Tyndale
Tyndale was born in the western part of England in 1494.
In 1515 he graduated from Oxford, where he had studied the Scriptures in Greek. By the time he was thirty, Tyndale had committed his life to translating the Bible from the original languages into English. Nothing would distract him from this.
His heart’s desire is exemplified in a statement he made to a clergyman when refuting the view that only the clergy were qualified to read and correctly interpret the Scriptures. Tyndale said:
“If God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture than thou dost.”
English Bibles Refused
In 1523 Tyndale went to London seeking a place to work on his translation, after the bishop of London showed very little hospitality towards him, Tyndale stayed with Humphrey Munmouth, a cloth merchant. In 1524, Tyndale left England for Germany because the English church, which was still under the papal authority of Rome, strongly opposed putting the Bible into the hands of the common person in their own language.
Tyndale first settled in Hamburg, Germany. Quite possibly, he met Luther in Wittenberg, there is an entry during that time in the University's ledger for one 'Guillelmus Daltici ex Anglia which is a latin translation of yndale's name. Interestingly Tyndale would spend most of his life using fake names to protect his work from those who sought to stop it.
New Testament In England
Tyndale completed his translation of the New Testament in 1525. 1500 copies were smuggled into England between the years 1525 and 1530.
Church authorities did their best to confiscate copies of Tyndale’s translation and burn them, one such occasion was organized by one of Tyndales most bitter opponents Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall who gathered and burned Tyndale's New Testaments outside St. Paul's. But they couldn’t stop the flow of Bibles from Germany into England. In fact the money the church used to buy up the Bibles for this burning, filtered back to Tyndale and paid for a new edition to be printed in greater numbers.
Tyndale himself could not return to England because he was considered an outlaw at the same time his translation had been banned. But he continued to work at correcting, revising, and reissuing his translation until his final revision appeared in 1535.
After finishing the New Testament Tyndale started work on a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, but he did not live long enough to complete his task. He had, however, translated the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), Jonah, and some historical books.
Throughout his time in Europe both the church and the monarchy of England (Henry VIII) at times sent assassins to kill Tyndale. Henry sent letters asking him to return to England as a ploy to capture him, and rewards were offered for information. Tyndale used false names and at one point went to live in Worms, where Luther had been called to answer only a few years before. He went to this dangerous place to learn Hebrew from the best scholars so that he could begin translating the Old Testament. He was willing to risk his life for the sake of translating a Bible everyone in England could read for themselves.
In May 1535, a new friend, Henry Philips, who he'd been warned about, led Tyndale down an alleyway in Antwerp, where soldiers waited on him. Tyndale was arrested and carried off to a castle near Brussels, where he was imprisoned.
While he was in prison, an associate of his named Miles Coverdale (1488–1569) brought to completion an entire Bible in English—based largely on Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament and other Old Testament books.
After being in prison for over a year, Tyndale was tried and condemned to death. He was strangled and burnt at the stake on October 6, 1536.
His final words while tied to the stake were “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”