William Tyndale's first translation of the New Testament (1526) was printed in Germany, savagely suppressed in England and eventually led to his execution. Yet it makes him the single most important figure in laying the foundations for the English Reformation.
Tyndale's vigorous direct English was substantially incorporated into the Authorized Version of 1611, and it made the New Testament available for the first time—in Tyndale's famous determination—even to the 'boy that driveth the plough'.
The Obedience of a Christian Man (1528) boldly develops the argument that ordinary believers should take their spiritual sustenance direct from Scripture, without the intervention of (often worldly and corrupt) Popes and prelates. Its vivid discussion of sacraments and false signs, the duties of rulers and ruled, and valid and invalid readings of the Bible, makes the book a landmark in both political and religious thinking. This fine example of English prose also raises, even today, some powerful questions about the true challenge of living a Christian life. 272 pages, softcover.
One of the key foundation books of the English Reformation, The Obedience of a Christian Man (1528) makes a radical challenge to the established order of the all-powerful Church of its time. Himself a priest, Tyndale boldly claims that there is just one social structure created by God to which all must be obedient, without the intervention of the rule of the Pope. He argues that Christians cannot be saved simply by performing ceremonies or by hearing the Scriptures in Latin, which most could not understand, and that all should have access to the Bible in their own language - an idea that was then both bold and dangerous. Powerful in thought and theological learning, this is a landmark in religious and political thinking.
William Tyndale (c1495-1536) produced the first translation of the New Testament from the original Greek rather than the church's Latin version. It was denounced by the English bishops and Tyndale settled in Antwerp. Arrested for heresy and imprisoned in 1535, he was then strangled and burnt at the stake. David Daniell is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of London, author of the authoritative biography of Tyndale (Yale, 1994) and editor of Tyndale's Biblical translations.
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