William Tyndale. England’s greatest Bible translator

Brian H. Edwards

Precious Seed

Paperback, 128pp. Published by Day One Publications, Ryelands Road, Leominster, HR6 8NZ. Price £10.00. ISBN 978-1-84625-160-3

The size of this little book masks its worth. In its ‘Travel with’ series, Day One Publications have provided another very valuable volume, an introduction to William Tyndale’s life and work. His sterling efforts lie behind our KJV New Testament and much of the Old Testament and resulted in the publication of the first translation of the New Testament from the Greek text into English in 1525.

Its impact has been immeasurable both on the life of this land and on the whole world. Melvyn Bragg is not exaggerating when he describes it as ‘the most influential book there has ever been in the history of language, English or any other’.

The greatness of Tyndale’s work must be assessed not only on its scholarship but also against the circumstances under which he completed his task. Opposed by many of the church leaders of his day and even by King Henry VIII, he nevertheless overcame all obstacles in order to make possible his dream that ‘ere many years I will cause that a boy that driveth a plough shall know more of the Scriptures than thou (a friar) dost’. His earthly reward was martyrdom in 1536.

This book is very easy to read and takes the reader through Tyndale’s life and work at an impressive pace. It is wellresearched and succeeds in creating the atmosphere in which Tyndale worked. We feel the ignorance, immorality and superstition which allowed a corrupt church to wield so much power and acquire so much wealth. The author has very skilfully woven into his account such characters as Wolsey, Thomas More, Erasmus, Luther and others who had an impact – for good or ill – on Tyndale’s efforts.

The text is supported by more than 150 colour photographs, outline maps and drawings, together with an invaluable time chart (hence the price). It will appeal to a wide readership, not least to younger people who may not have realized as yet the debt which we owe, individually and as a nation, to this faithful scholar.

[Our thanks to Ed Hotchin, Hucknall, Nottingham, UK, for this review]