The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


William Tyndale was born c1494AD in Gloucestershire. He was educated at both Oxford and Cambridge. Ordained in 1521 he preached at St Dunstan’s. He spoke and wrote in at least seven languages and had a genius for words. It is said that our language owes more to the constructions of Tyndale than of any other (including Shakespeare). It has been calculated that 90 percent of KJV owes its origin to the words and phrases of Tyndale. Here, at random, are three phrases which are his in origin and conjure up elegant images:

Most of the aphorisms (and indeed cliches) in use today can trace their origins to his works. Contemporaneously with his studies, Martin Luther was prominent on the continent in popularising the vernacular, as also was Desiderius Erasmus. The latter made the Greek NT available in Europe. Tyndale incurred the wrath of the Pope, the Holy Roman Emperor, King Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell. He was pursued as he fled to the Continent. In 1524 he visited Luther at Wittenberg. His NT was printed in Cologne in 1525.

Eventually, being betrayed by his supposed friend, Henry Phillips, he was captured. He spent some time in prison and then was strangled and burnt at the stake in Vilvoorde (in the Netherlands) for heresy and treason. There is a statue to him in that town, where he is regarded as a martyr. The death was a tragedy. His life’s work was incomplete and his treatment shows the savagery of the times and the protectionism that those in power claim. The powerful still try to keep the truth from the mass of people.

William Tyndale had a gift of mastery of language and a genius for translation. To him we owe a great debt.

Rod Dawson

Christmas Edition 2014

A Translator of Genius

In the turbulent times of King Henry VIII there lived a pious, diligent and sincere man who took upon himself to bring the Scriptures to be understood by the poor and uneducated. He wanted to dispel the ignorance of the masses by translating the Bible into English. At this time in history, the printing of the Bible in the vernacular was an offence punishable by death. In his endeavours he was harassed and vilified at every turn. On one occasion, having been reproved by another clergyman, he retorted, “I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spares my life ’ere many years I will cause the boy who drives the plough to know more of the Scriptures than you.” The translator was William Tyndale.

Wycliffe, over a century before Tyndale had done a translation. It had then caused the wrath of the Roman Catholic Church and from that time anyone in unlicensed possession of the Scriptures in English could be put to death. The Church used the Vulgate, a Latin text from the 4th century AD, done by St Jerome. Tyndale considered it to contain many inaccuracies and went back to an ancient Greek text for his translation of the New Testament. He learned Hebrew in order to translate the Pentateuch and was able to put into English certain other parts of the Old Testament.

Tyndale memorial, Vilvoorde