William Tyndale was a pioneering Bible translator, whose work on the English Bible indirectly became 84 percent of the King James Version. Tyndale was converted to Lutheranism after studying at Cambridge – in fact he arrived at Cambridge one year before Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg castle church door. His conversion to what was commonly known as the “evangelical” faith led him to leave England in order to translate the Word of God into English, from the original languages.
Once he left England, his work became infamous, and Tyndale himself became a wanted fugitive. The story of his life is one of hiding, working under cover of disguise and intrigue, and releasing his work into England from the Continent. His writings included direct attacks on the papacy, the clergy, commentaries, and treatises on King Henry VIII’s marriage issues. His greatest work was his monumental translation of all of the New Testament and a large part of the Old Testament. All the while, Tyndale was being relentlessly pursued by Sir Thomas More, who was a powerful figure in the English state and a heretic-hunter. This tale becomes a dual biography of sorts, of both Tyndale and More.
While this biography is hardly hot off the press, it is excellent. Moynahan writes with energy and accuracy. The book is meticulously researched, with a stack of quotes from primary sources. It reads much like a thriller, and Moynahan’s depiction of the cat-and-mouse game between the Papist More and the Lutheran Tyndale, is exciting and intriguing. Apart from being a great read, Tyndale is a valuable window into the lives of Reformation Christians, and will help any reader better understand the times in which Tyndale lived. There are numerous lessons to be learned regarding the actions and attitudes of the Catholic Church, King Henry VIII, and even some of the Reformers.
The persecution and suffering undergone by the men and women who fought for the burgeoning Protestant faith was enormous, and Tyndale’s life exhibits this in spades. His faithfulness to his mission, his faith in his God, his love of the word of God, and his love of the English people, are wonderful examples. Tyndale’s life is an inspiration, and his work and legacy are extraordinary.