William Tyndale

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William Tyndale (sometimes spelled Tindall, Tindill, Tyndall; c. 1494 – 1536) was a 16th century scholar and translator who became a leading figure in Protestant reformism towards the end of his life. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and Martin Luther.[1] Tyndale was the first to translate considerable parts of the Bible into English, for a public, lay readership. While a number of partial and complete translations had been made from the seventh century onward, particularly during the 14th century, Tyndale's was the first English translation to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, and the first to take advantage of the new medium of print, which allowed for its wide distribution. This was taken to be a direct challenge to the hegemony of both the Roman Catholic church and the English church and state. Tyndale also wrote, in 1530, The Practyse of Prelates, opposing Henry VIII's divorce on the grounds that it contravened scriptural law.

In 1535, Tyndale was arrested by church authorities and jailed in the castle of Vilvoorde outside Brussels for over a year. He was tried for heresy, strangled and burnt at the stake. The Tyndale Bible, as it was known, continued to play a key role in spreading Reformation ideas across Europe.

The fifty-four independent scholars who revised extant English bibles, drew significantly on Tyndale's translations to create the King James Version (or final "Authorised Version") of 1611 (still in mainstream use today). One estimation suggests the King James New Testament is 83.7 % Tyndale's and the Old Testament 75.7 %.[2]



Tyndale was born around 1490, possibly in one of the villages near Dursley, Gloucestershire.[3] Within his immediate family, the Tyndales were also known at that period as Hychyns (Hitchins), and it was as William Hychyns that Tyndale was educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford. Tyndale's family had migrated to Gloucestershire at some point in the fifteenth century - quite probably as a result of the Wars of the Roses. The family derived from Northumberland via East Anglia. Documentation shows that Tyndale's uncle, Edward, was receiver to the lands of Lord Berkeley, and gives account of the Tyndale family origins. Edward Tyndale is recorded in two genealogies[4] as having been the brother of Sir William Tyndale, KB, of Deane, Northumberland, and Hockwald, Norfolk, who was knighted at the marriage of Arthur, Prince of Wales to Katherine of Aragon. Tyndale's family was therefore derived from Baron Adam de Tyndale, a tenant-in-chief of Henry I (and whose family history is related in Tyndall).

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