Book Burning and Censorship - TYNDALE WRITES, THEN BURNS

This rare book—a surviving Tyndale Bible—was displayed at Ocford’s Bodleian Library in June 2014. Steve Bennett took this image of that display. (Click on it for a better view.) It is online via Wikimedia Commons; license: CC BY-SA 3.0


Most people today do not realize how significant William Tyndale still is to the English-speaking world.

Taking the idea of Bible translation to its ultimate extreme, and not trusting the Church's Latin translation, Tyndale went to the Bible's primary sources. He and his colleagues translated Hebrew and Greek texts (prepared by the Dutch scholar Erasmus) into English.

Tyndale, the scholar, had a special "feel" for the poetry of the English language. It is Tyndale's translated words that brought us such memorable phrases as:

Let there be light
Am I my brother's keeper?

In fact, 85% of the King James Version of the Bible was taken directly from Tyndale's translation.

Although Tyndale's translated words are still with us today, his Bibles were burned in special ceremonies in London and Antwerp.  Cardinal Wolsey, no doubt at Henry VIII's direction, wanted to eliminate all English Bibles from the land. And, like Hus before him, Tyndale and his editor, John Rogers, were burned for translating the Bible into the "vernacular." 

At the time, people were even burned for reciting parts of the Bible in English.

As Tyndale died in 1536—(Rogers was executed later, in 1555)—his last words were for the King of England. Tyndale prayed for Henry VIII to see the light and allow his English translation to stand. One year after Tyndale's death, Henry VIII allowed it.

Today, only three copies of the Tyndale Bible (which had to be published outside England) are known to exist. In 1994, the British Library paid more than 1 million pounds for its copy of Tyndale's New Testament which was published in Worms.

But the city of Worms is not principally remembered today for publishing Tyndale's Bible, important though it is. Instead, Worms is most closely associated with Martin Luther who also risked punishment at the stake.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Aug 01, 2000

Updated Last Revision: Jul 04, 2019

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"TYNDALE WRITES, THEN BURNS" AwesomeStories.com. Aug 01, 2000. Dec 10, 2019.
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