Waiting in Line to Meet William Tyndale
Friday, October 11, 2019
“Sainthood springs out of suffering.” – Os Hillman
On October 6th, a friend of mine from Pennsylvania shared a post on his Facebook page that struck a chord with me. It featured William Tyndale, who was martyred for his faith on that date in 1536. The crime for which Tyndale was burned at the stake? Translating the Bible from Latin into English, so that laymen could read it.
Here is what the website Ancient Pages says about Tyndale, with limited editing…
William Tyndale was born about 1490, at North Nibley, Gloucestershire, and was educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford (now Hertford College), where he studied languages, earning a Bachelor’s degree in 1512, and a Master’s degree in 1515.
Tyndale planned to study theology, but he soon discovered that the study of scripture was not included in the Oxford syllabus. His response was to leave Oxford for Cambridge, where he organized a group of scholars who met regularly to translate, interpret and discuss the Bible. He became convinced that the [organized] church was covering up the truth and that people had the right to know what was contained in scripture.
Tyndale decided to translate the whole Bible into English, so he contacted a prominent churchman for help. He was rejected and told that there was no place for scripture in the vernacular, and that the Bible belonged exclusively to the church and its clergy.
If he persisted, Tyndale was warned, he would be prosecuted for heresy. Hoping to work in secret, Tyndale left for Germany in 1524. A year later, he published an English version of the New Testament at Cologne, but the church establishment had it suppressed. An edition printed at Worms had more success and hundreds of copies were smuggled into England and Scotland.
Tyndale’s work was condemned in England and copies were publicly burned. Tyndale himself was condemned as a heretic and he was obliged to go into hiding in Antwerp, but was later betrayed. In 1536, he was put on trial for heresy; even a plea from the English chancellor, Thomas Cromwell, did not help.
Tyndale was burned at the stake at Vilvoorde, Belgium, on October 6, 1536. At the time of his death, several thousand copies of his New Testament had been printed, but only one intact copy survives at the British Library in London.
Dear Reader, you and I owe a great debt of gratitude to William Tyndale. In fact, I readily admit that my faith pales in comparison to his. Indeed, if ever a man deserved to be called a saint, it was him.
I look forward to meeting William Tyndale in Paradise and thanking him for sacrificing his life so that others would have access to God’s Word in their own language. However, I suspect I will have to wait in line behind scores of Bible translators who have followed in his bold and anointed footsteps.
“They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy.” Hebrews 11:37-38a (NKJV)
- Rev. Dale M. Glading, President