William Tyndale: Protestant Martyr
William Tyndale was a sixteenth-century English biblical translator, humanist, and Protestant martyr. He was born around 1490 in Gloucestershire, England, was educated at the University of Oxford, and became an instructor at the University of Cambridge.
Tyndale became convinced that the Bible alone should determine the practices and doctrines of the church. He objected to the Catholic Church’s control of scripture in Latin and the prohibition against an English translation. His work formed the basis of all other English translations of the Bible that followed.
Tyndale’s greatest achievement was the ability to strike a balance between scholarly accuracy and popular readability. He produced the first English translation of the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew, which played a prominent role in the Protestant Reformation by challenging the papacy’s authority and advocating that everyone should be able to read the Bible, not just the clergy and academic elite.
Tyndale was condemned for heresy, executed by strangulation, and then burned at the stake at Vilvoorde in 1536. At the time of his death, 18,000 copies of his New Testament had been printed; however, only two complete volumes and a fragment remain today, at London’s British Library.