Thoughts for the Day

Friday, 6th October 2023: William Tyndale, translator of the scriptures, martyr (1536)

Persecution Translator Martyr Bible 2 Timothy 3

Reading : Verses from 2 Timothy, Chapter 3

William Tyndale

Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


William Tyndale was born in Gloucestershire and studied at both Oxford and Cambridge. He was determined to translate the bible from Greek into contemporary English. Forced to leave because of opposition by the church authorities he fled to Hamburg in 1524 where he completed the New Testament and the first five books of the Old Testament. His was the first such work to to be printed and had to be produced in Germany, since it was illegal in England where the bible was still read in all churches in Latin. When the translation found its way into England it was pronounced as 'subversive'. Interestingly though it would be good enough to become the basic working text for the first Authorised Version of the Bible (known as the King James Bible) printed some 80 years later in 1611. Tyndale was to be captured and imprisoned in Brussels charged with heresy, before being strangled and burnt at the stake on this day in 1536.

I found myself thinking of scripture with fresh eyes today. Imagine all the parts of the Bible we would never have heard or read in English, if you only had a priest to tell you parts of scripture. How impoverished we should be! Then I thought about the hundreds of people who have listened to my sermons, or whom I helped train as Readers and Priests, and the three and a half years of writing these 'Thoughts'! It was a humbling thought of all that would have been missed if Tyndale had not been brave enough to persevere with his work.



Lord, give your people grace to hear and keep your word,
that, after the example of your servant William Tyndale
we may not only profess your gospel
but also be ready to suffer and die for it,
to the honour of your name;
through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to look at some pages from one of only three known copies of the 1526 edition of the illegal Tyndale translation of the New Testament. Page 1 is St Matthew's Gospel with its long list of names, but page 3 is the beginning of Mark's Gospel. It's not easy to read with 16th century spelling - the letter f is for instance an s. So 'Goost' is 'Ghost'. Try comparing it to the first page of Mark's Gospel in a modern bible (Mark 1.1-8).

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