William Tyndale (1494-1536) was the first person to translate the Bible into English from its original Greek and Hebrew and the first to print the Bible in English, which he did in exile. Giving the laity access to the word of God outraged the clerical establishment in England: he was condemned, hunted, and eventually murdered. However, his masterly translation formed the basis of all English bibles--including the "King James Bible," many of whose finest passages were taken unchanged, though unacknowledged, from Tyndale's work.
This important book, published in the quincentenary year of his birth, is the first major biography of Tyndale in sixty years. It sets the story of his life in the intellectual and literary contexts of his immense achievement and explores his influence on the theology, literature, and humanism of Renaissance and Reformation Europe.
David Daniell, editor of Tyndale's New Testament and Tyndale's Old Testament, eloquently describes the dramatic turns in Tyndale's life. Born in England and educated at Oxford, Tyndale was ordained as a priest. When he decided to translate the Bible into English, he realized that it was impossible to do that work in England and moved to Germany, living in exile there and in the Low Countries while he translated and printed first the New Testament and then half of the Old Testament. These were widely circulated-and denounced-in England. Yet Tyndale continued to write from abroad, publishing polemics in defense of the principles of the English reformation. He was seized in Antwerp, imprisoned in Vilvoorde Castle near Brussels, and burnt at the stake for heresy in 1536.
Daniell discusses Tyndale's achievement as biblical translator and expositor, analyzes his writing, examines his stylistic influence on writers from Shakespeare to those of the twentieth century, and explores the reasons why he has not been more highly regarded. His book brings to life one of the great geniuses of the age.
"A massive contribution to the history of the Reformation in England. It is novel and important in its focus upon the language of the English scriptures in the formative period and in its long-range perspective." J. Enoch Powell, Times Higher Education Supplement "Daniell is searching and erudite without being ponderous, and his book is not only a superb guide to Tyndale's work, but to the cultural and religious ferment which inspired it." Chaim Bermant, The Observer "Daniell's book is full of good things. It is written with verve and total commitment to its subject. It establishes beyond doubt the centrality of Tyndale's achievement as a translator." Eamon Duffy, The Times "Stunning both in presentation and content... Daniell carves away the popular myths and reveals an individual of heroic proportions." Donald Dean Smeeton, Sixteenth Century Journal "[Daniell] makes a compelling case that when we think of the triumphs of the Tudor age, we should also recall the achievement of the great literary figure who emerged at the beginning of that splendid era." Mark Galli, Christianity Today "A long-awaited masterpiece." Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Journal of Religion"