William Tyndale – Part 2 (Conclusion)
In part 1, we learned of William Tyndale’s early life and how he was drawn to the Reformation. We also learned of the Roman Catholic Church's murderess opposition to an English translation of the Bible. In this post we’ll pickup where we left off, the immanent danger in which Tyndale found himself.
Fearing for his life, Tyndale fled London for Brussels in 1524 where he continued his translation work for the next 12 years. Tyndale’s time in exile was dreadful, as he describes in a 1531 letter:
. . . my pains . . . my poverty . . . my exile out of mine natural country, and bitter absence from my friends . . . my hunger, my thirst, my cold, the great danger wherewith I am everywhere encompassed, and finally . . . innumerable other hard and sharp fighting’s which I endure.
On the evening of May 21, 1535, Tyndale was betrayed to the authorities by a man he trusted, Henry Philips. For the next 18 months, Tyndale lived a prisoner in Vilvorde Castle, six miles outside of Brussles. The charge was heresy.
The verdict came in August, 1536. He was condemned as a heretic and defrocked as a priest. On or about October 6, 1536, Tyndale was tied to a stake, strangled by an executioner, and then his body burned. He was 42 years old. His last words were, “Lord! Open the King of England’s Eyes!”
Tyndale’s translations were the foundations for Miles Coverdale’s Great Bible (1539) and later for the Geneva Bible (1557). As a matter of fact, about 90% of the Geneva Bible’s New Testement was Tyndale’s work. In addition, the 54 scholars who produced the 1611 Authorized Version (King James) bible relied heavily upon Tyndale’s translations, although they did not give him credit.
Tyndale is also known as a pioneer in the biblical languages. He introduced several words into the English language, such as Jehovah, Passover, scapegoat, and atonement.
It has been asserted that 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, at least to Protestants.