Forbidden to work in England, Tyndale translated and printed in English the New Testament and half the Old Testament between 1525 and 1535 in Germany and the Low Countries. He worked from the Greek and Hebrew original texts when knowledge of those languages in England was rare. His pocket-sized Bible translations were smuggled into England, and then ruthlessly sought out by the Church, confiscated and destroyed. Condemned as a heretic, Tyndale was strangled and burned outside Brussels in 1536.
Photo: Statue of William Tyndale by Lawrence Holofcener (2000), Millennium Square, Bristol, United Kingdom.
© Brian Buxton.
Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament was taken almost word for word into the much praised Authorised Version (King James Bible) of 1611, which also reproduces a great deal of his Old Testament. From there his words passed into our common understanding.
People across the world honour him as a great Englishman. His solitary courage, and his skill with languages – including, supremely, his own – enriched English history and then reached out to affect all English-speaking nations.
His influence has been as wide as Shakespeare’s. His phrases are so well-known that they are often thought to be proverbial – ‘let there be light’, ‘we live and move and have our being’, ‘fight the good fight’, ‘the signs of the times’, ‘the powers that be’, ‘a law unto themselves’, and hundreds more. The familiar words telling the great Bible stories are usually Tyndale’s.
Aims of the Tyndale Society
The aims of the Society are to promote a greater knowledge and understanding of the importance of the contribution made by Tyndale to the English Reformation by his Biblical translations and theological writings, and to encourage relevant research and study.
Membership of the Society is international and we warmly encourage anyone interested in its aims to join. The Society is in no way a credal body and all are welcome into membership regardless of their personal religion or other philosophy of life. Lower down this page is information on membership and applying to become a member.
A Brief History of the Society
The Tyndale Society was inaugurated in 1995. It followed on from the activities organised the previous year by the William Tyndale Quincentenary Trust. The founder chairman, holding office until 2005, was Professor David Daniell, author of the major modern biography of Tyndale and editor of editions of several of his works. Sadly David passed away on 1st June 2016.
Professor David Daniell (1929-2016)
The Society pursues these purposes primarily through publications and events. There are two regular publications. The Tyndale Society Journal, issued twice a year, includes several in depth articles by members and others, as well as book reviews, notices, reports of events, and other Society matters. From 2014 Reformation is issued twice a year and is an academic journal with a range of articles by scholars specialising in Reformation issues.
International conferences have been held in several centres, including Tyndale’s place of education, Hertford College, Oxford, where the Society’s twentieth anniversary was marked in 2015. Major conferences have also been held in Antwerp and Geneva. More localised events, both residential conferences and study days, have been organised in the United Kingdom and in the United States of America.
In England it has been customary to hold an annual carol service in the church of St. Mary Abchurch, in the city of London, with singing led by the English Chamber Choir and readings from Tyndale’s translations.
Tyndale famously said that he wanted “the boy that driveth the plough” to have the Scripture. At an early stage the society appointed a Ploughboy Convenor to co-ordinate the taking of the story of Tyndale into a variety of groups through talks, audio-visual presentations etc.
More recently a Fellowship of Tyndale Theologians was inaugurated by the Reverend Dr. Ralph Werrell through which those engaged in studying aspects of Tyndale’s theology could make contact with others researching similar areas and could identify topics to which attention could usefully be given. Dr. Werrell himself has published The Theology of William Tyndale (2006), The Roots of Tyndale’s Theology (2013), and The Blood o