Tyndale (or Tindal), William

Tyndale (or Tindal), William the Bible translator and martyr, was born in the hundred of Berkeley, either at Stinchcomb or North Nibley, Gloucestershire, about the year 1484 (or 1477). At an early period he was sent to Oxford, where he took his degree, and also gave instructions in Magdalen Hall. But he left Oxford for Cambridge, where it is believed that he took a degree. In 1502 he obtained priest's orders, and in 1508 entered the monastery at Greenwich as a friar. He seems to have already formed the design, or even to have actually begun the work, of translating the New Test., and had probably imbibed some of the notions which were beginning to be circulated in favor of reforming the Church. In 1522 (or 1520) Tyndale is next found as tutor in the house of Sir John Welch, of Little Sodbury, not far from Bristol, where he preached in the villages and towns on the Sabbath, and often disputed with neighboring abbots and other Romish ecclesiastics. Here, too, he translated the Enchiridion Militis of Erasmus, as a present to his host and his lady. His free opinions and discussions soon got him into troublous examinations before the popish dignitaries, but no penalty was inflicted on him. He took the hint, however, left the county, and went to London, his mind being now fully occupied with the idea of translating the Scriptures. He soon found, as he himself quaintly says, "that there was no room in my lord of London's palace to translate the New Test.; nay, no place to do it in all England." In London he sometimes preached at St. Dunstan's-in-the- West, while alderman Humphrey Monmouth took him under his protection, and gave, him an annuity of ten pounds a year to enable him to live abroad, for which ten pounds he was in return to pray for the souls of the alderman's father and mother. Tyndale on leaving England went first to Hamburg. It is often said that from Hamburg he proceeded to Wittenberg, where he met Luther, who had now thrown off the last vestige of popish thraldom, and that there he completed his translation of the New Test. The statement is apparently not correct, for during 1524 he seems to have remained at Hamburg, and in 1525 he appears to have been first at Cologne and then at Worms. At Cologne Tyndale seems to have commenced to print his first edition in 4to, but after ten sheets were printed the work was interrupted, and the translator and his coadjutors betook themselves to the Lutheran city of Worms, where the quarto was finished, and an octavo edition also issued from the press (1525)'. The prologue to the quarto has been republished under the name of A Pathway to the Scriptures. The translator's name was attached to neither of the two editions, and he assigns a reason for this omission in his Wicked Mammon, published in 1527. Copies of these versions early found their way into England. In 1526 Tunstall, bishop of London, fulminated his prohibition of them, and two years afterwards a number of copies were collected, nay, some were purchased by the bishop in Antwerp, and burned at St. Paul's Cross. Warham and Wolsey were also dreadfully enraged, and Sir Thomas More was employed to denounce Tyndale, but his genius was foiled in the attempt, and Tyndale won a victory over the learned chancellor. Of the first edition only a fragment now exists, and of the second only two copies, one of them imperfect. Two editions were afterwards printed at Antwerp, and found their way to England in vessels laden with grain. Endeavors were made to seize Tyndale and punish all who had assisted him, but he removed to Marburg, in Hesse, in 1528, and published there a book of great value — The Obedience of a Christian Man. The result of all the English opposition was that, as Fox expresses it, copies of the New Test. came thick and threefold into England. We find Tyndale again at Antwerp in 1529, during which year a fifth edition was printed; the four books of Moses were also translated, printed each at a separate press, and put into circulation. The enemies of the translator endeavored to decoy him into England, but he was too wary to be so easily entrapped, for he well knew what displeasure Henry VIII felt at his tract called The Practice of Prelates, and what penalty the royal indignation would speedily inflict. After the martyrdom of Frith, Tyndale set himself to revise and correct the version of the New Test., and it was soon thrown off, with this remark in the preface, "Which I have looked over again with all diligence, and compared with the Greek, and have weeded out of it many fautes." But his enemies in England, whose power had been shaken by the copious circulation of the English New Test., were the more enraged against him, and conspired to seize him on the Continent, in the name of the emperor. An Englishman named Philips betrayed him, and, acting under such information, the authorities at Brussels seized him, in the house of Pointz, his friend, and conveyed him to Vilvoorden, twenty-three miles from Antwerp. Pointz, who had with difficulty escaped himself, made every effort for him, but in vain. The neighboring University of Louvain thirsted for his blood. Tyndale was speedily condemned, and on Friday, Oct. 6, 1536, in virtue of a recent Augsburg decree, he was led out to the scene of execution. On being fastened to the stake he cried, in loud and earnest prayer, "Lord, open the eyes of the king of England," and, then was first strangled and afterwards burned. The merits of Tyndale must ever be recognized and honored by all who enjoy the English Bible-for their authorized version of the New Test. has his for its basis. He made good his early boast that ploughboys should have the Word of God. His friends all speak of his great simplicity of heart, and commend his abstemious habits, his zeal, and his industry; while even the imperial procurator who prosecuted him styles him homo doctus, pius, et bonus. The works of Tyndale and Frith were collected and published (Lond. 1831, 3 vols. 8vo). For information respecting Tyndale, his writings, and editions of his translations of the Testament, Pentateuch, etc., see Bliss's Wood, Athen. Oxon. 1, 94; Fox, Acts and Mn.; Biog. Brit.; Walter and Offor, Life of Tyndale; Wordsworth, Eccles, Biog.; Newcome, English Bible Translations; Johnson, Hist. of English Translations of the Bible; Lewis, Hist. of Translations of the Bible into English; Cotton, List of Editions of the Bible in English; Anderson, Annals of the English Bible; Home, Introd. to Study of the Bible; Historical Account of English Versions of Scripture; Watt, Bibl. Brit.; Princeton Rev. 10:321; Christian Rev. 3, 130; North American Rev. 67, 322. For fuller list of literature, see Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.

 
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