Bought with Ink and Blood: The Dream of William Tyndale

Nearly half a millennia has passed since a forty-two year old Englishman breathed his last, bound to a stake and publicly burnt. Yet if you're reading this, his hand touched your life.

The canonised Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments had been locked away in Latin to the liturgical classes and kept from common hands who spent their days in manual labor, unable (or perhaps uninterested) in mining the depths of the holy Writ themselves. Nevertheless, a man ordained to the priesthood of the Church of England had the wild idea of making the Word of God available to anyone who wanted to read it.

Eventually, he would be forced to go into hiding in order to achieve this dream—an English Bible, the Scriptures being directly translated from the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic transcripts. If you read/speak/think in English, William Tyndall's efforts have bled their way into your life. If you've ever read a Bible verse in English, you owe that luxury to this man.

The advent of the printing press "conveniently" coincided with Tyndale's translation, and the published English Bible spread quite like wildfire through a European Continent undergoing her own Reformation. Tyndale's commitment to empower every farm boy to pursue self-study of the knowledge of God was the catalyst Britain needed. Illegal English Bibles were smuggled into England, Scotland and Wales alike.

Tyndale was a wanted man.

When he died, betrayed by a friend to the bloodthirsty authorities, he shouted one last prayer before the hands of his executioners tightened the rope around his neck:

"God! Open the King of England's eyes!"

In later years, a Scot who'd gleaned a life in the Word translated by Tyndale would say the ground upon which martyred blood is spilt is then baptized, marked as an inheritance for the Lord Jesus.[1] This could be said of Britain in the aftermath of Tyndall's life and murder; within three years, King Henry VIII (arguably otherwise insane) ordered the production of an English Bible, "The Great Bible," using much of Tyndale's work.

Today marks 479 years since the Holy Roman Empire strangled England's son. Not only did Tyndale gift English natives with the Scriptures in their languages, he galvanized international efforts through every English native who subsequently translated the Scriptures into a new languages for previously unreached and unengaged people groups around the earth. We must think of these printed pages as a privilege not to be white-knuckled or wasted. William Tyndale's ecclesiastic contribution to the Great Commission is immeasurable on this side of space and time—and there is yet much more to be done.

 

"—and Christ thereby told the whole Christian world

that He claimed these islands as His own."[1]

 

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[1] Glaswegian missionary John G. Paton wrote this in his memoir, Thirty Years Among South Sea Cannibals

Stephanie QuickComment