Feast of William Tyndale (October 6)   Leave a comment

His was a capital offense?



Almighty God, you planted in the heart of your servant William Tyndale a consuming passion to bring the Scriptures to people in their native tongue, and endowed him with the gift of powerful and graceful expression and with strength to persevere against all obstacles: Reveal to us your saving Word, as we read and study the Scriptures, and hear them calling us to repentance and life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Proverbs 8:10-17

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

John 12:44-50


Priest; Bible translator whom authorities imprisoned and executed for his efforts; died in 1536

From the New Zealand Anglicans:

Little is known of Tyndale’s early life. He was born in Gloucestershire about 1494 and educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, and then Cambridge. At university he discovered the New Testament in the original Greek in the recent edition by Erasmus, which proved to him the inadequacy of the Latin version normally used throughout western Christendom.

He perceived by experience, how that it was not possible to establish the lay people in any truth, except the Scriptures were so plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text.

He was ordained in 1521 and served as a chaplain and tutor, first in Gloucestershire and then in London.

The translation of the Bible into contemporary English became Tyndale’s life’s work. He was already strongly sympathetic to the ideas of reform circulating on the continent. The church leaders therefore viewed his work with suspicion. Bishop Tunstall of London refused to support the project. Determined to carry out his plans, Tyndale eventually left England in 1524 and settled in Hamburg. The Reformation in Germany was already under way. The first edition of Tyndale’s English New Testament was printed to begin with in Cologne and completed in Worms in 1525. It was denounced in England as heretical and publicly burned.

Tyndale continued to revise his translation, and thousands of copies were secretly circulated. At the time, he was living in the English House in Antwerp. He then learned Hebrew in order to translate the Old Testament. By the time of his death, he had published the Pentateuch and Jonah, leaving in manuscript form his version of the historical books from Joshua to Chronicles. His versions are the basis of the dominant tradition in English Bible translation, from the Authorised (King James) Version to the Revised Version, the Revised Standard Version, and the New Revised Standard Version.

Tyndale also wrote commentaries and expositions of various books, including Romans, 1 John and the Sermon on the Mount. His theological works dealt with such topics as justification by faith alone, the after-life, and the authority of Scripture. Like many of his contemporaries he could be savagely polemical, and some of his translations served that purpose.

He suffered constant opposition to his work, not for the translations he did, but because of his advocacy of ideas that were considered heretical. Secret agents were a continual threat, and he was eventually betrayed by a colleague, George Joye, who pirated his New Testament. At last the church authorities had him arrested and imprisoned in Brussels, and a year later he was condemned to death for heresy. He was strangled and burned at the stake in 1536, his last words being, “Lord! open the king of England’s eyes.”

For Liturgical Use

Tyndale was born in Gloucestershire about 1494. The translation of the Bible into contemporary English became his life’s passion. Church opposition at home led him to settle on the continent. From there thousands of copies of the New Testament and some Old Testament books were secretly circulated in England. At last his enemies had him arrested, and he was strangled and burned at the stake in 1536, not for his work of translation, but for doctrines considered heretical. His last words were, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”

William Tyndale


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