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William Tyndale

1494 - 1536

William Tyndale, born around 1494 in Lollard Gloucestershire, translated the Bible into English during the Reformation and was martyred for it. He studied at Oxford and Cambridge as a young man, where he became an expert linguist and earnestly reformed. In 1523 he went to London to ask for Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall’s help with an English translation of the Greek and Hebrew Testaments, but Tunstall refused. The following year he left for the continent, probably Wittenberg, where he translated the New Testament from Greek to English by 1525. It was published in 1526 in Worms and smuggled into England and Scotland, where it met with immediate and intense opposition from the prelates. Tyndale also wrote against King Henry VIII’s efforts to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, which turned the king against him as well. Tunstall declared him a heretic; Henry requested the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, to arrest Tyndale and return him to England. Tyndale went into hiding in Hamburg and for ten years worked on his translations of Old and New Testaments. He was in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1535 when he was betrayed by a friend to the authorities, seized, and held in a castle in Brussels. In 1536 he was tried for heresy and condemned to be strangled at the stake, after which his body was publicly burned.

Tyndale’s last words were recorded, ‘Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes!’ Within four years of his death, his Bible under the name ‘The Matthew Bible’ was published in England with the king’s approval, along with three other English Bibles, all based upon his work.