Died At Age: 42
Also Known As: William Tindall, William Tynsdale, William Tindill, William Tyndall
Born in: North Nibley
Famous as: Theologian
Died on: October 6, 1536
place of death: Vilvoorde
Cause of Death: Execution
education: University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Magdalen College, Oxford, Hertford College, Oxford
Who was William Tyndale?
William Tyndale was an English scholar and theologian who is most celebrated for his work of translating the Bible in English. A gifted linguist, his work was praised after his death and formed a vital part of later Bible translations. Born in England, Tyndale was educated at Oxford and Cambridge University where he became a strong supporter of church reform. He firmly believed that people should be able to read the Bible in their own language and was keen on translating it in English. He was ordained as a priest and became a chaplain but his controversial opinions began alarming the church authorities. Subsequently, Tyndale moved to London and later to Germany, with the intention of translating the New Testament into English, an act that was strictly banned. After his English New Testament was completed and printed, its copies were smuggled into England and denounced by the Roman Catholic authorities. Tyndale was accused of heresy and thereafter, he went into hiding for few years. Later, he moved to Belgium where he was arrested by the imperial authorities. He was convicted of heresy and sentenced to death by being strangled and burned at the stake. Within few years of his execution, King Henry VIII published the English ‘Great Bible’ based on Tyndale’s work. His phenomenal work formed the basis of all subsequent English translations of the Bible and profoundly affected the development of the English language
Childhood & Early Life
William Tyndale was born around 1494 in Melksham Court, Stinchcombe, a village near Dursley, Gloucestershire, England. His family also went by the name Hychyns and may have migrated to Gloucestershire during the ‘War of the Roses’.
In 1506, William was enrolled at Magdalen College School at the Oxford University and completed his B.A. in 1512.
After obtaining his Master of Arts degree in 1515, Tyndale studied theology and subsequently became fluent in several languages including French, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish.
While studying theology, he often criticized the idea that one had to study so long before actually being allowed to study the Bible. During his college years, he also sought to create Bible study groups with friends having similar interest.
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Between 1517 and 1521, he went to the University of Cambridge and served as professor of Greek. While at Cambridge, he became further convinced that the Bible alone should determine the practices and doctrines of the church, and that every follower should be able to read the Bible in his own language.
Tyndale was quite keen to translate the New Testament into English as he believed this would help common public understand scripture directly without the filter of the church. He also claimed that the Bible did not support the church’s view that they were the body of Christ on earth.
In 1521, he left Cambridge and became the chaplain at the home of Sir John Walsh, at Little Sodbury. Shortly after, he was criticized by fellow churchmen for his radical viewpoints and therefore in 1523, he left for London in the hope of translating the Bible into English.
In London, he was unable to obtain approval to translate the Bible into English and the church authorities in England prevented him from doing so. For the next couple of months, Tyndale preached in London while receiving financial support from a wealthy London cloth merchant, Humphrey Monmouth.
After struggling to receive any support or assistance to fulfill his objective, he left England and went to Germany in 1524. In Germany, after short stopovers in Hamburg and Wittenberg, he finally settled down at Cologne.
In July 1525, Tyndale completed the New Testament translation which was subsequently published at Cologne and later at Worms, after suppression of Catholic authorities. The following year, its first copies reached England where they were soon condemned as heretical and burnt in public at St. Paul's Cross.
In 1530, he wrote the Practice of Prelates, a treatise which criticized the annulment of Henry VIII's marriage. When the English King found out about it, he became furious and ordered Tyndale’s arrest.
Thereafter, Tyndale went in hiding for several years and was later arrested from Antwerp, Belgium. Subsequently, he was convicted of heresy and sentenced to death.
Within several years of his death, upon the directives of King Henry VIII, a number of English translations of the Bible were published which were heavily based on Tyndale’s original translations.
William Tyndale is most remembered for his greatest work of translating the Bible into English language so as to enable the common public to read the Holy Scriptures. While performing the translation, he also introduced new phrases and words into the English translations which proved to be quite popular. His work later formed the major part of important Bible translations, most notably the Authorized Version, or King James Bible.
Personal Life & Legacy
After several years of hiding, Tyndale was betrayed by his friend, Henry Philips, and handed over to the imperial authorities in Belgium in 1535. Subsequently, he was convicted on a charge of heresy and his body was burnt at the stake on October 6, 1536, near Brussels, Brabant.
With his translation of the Bible the first to be printed in English, Tyndale’s remarkable work became the basis for most of the subsequent English translations.