Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Monday, October 6, 2014

6 October 1536 A.D. Mr. (Rev.) William Tyndale strangled and burned

6 October 1536 A.D.  Mr. (Rev.) William Tyndale strangled and burned.  See David Daniell’s book.

Daniell, David.  The Bible in English: Its History and Influence. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

Prof. David Daniell is Emeritus Professor of English at the University College London.  He is an honorary Fellow of Hertford and St. Catherine’s colleges, Oxford. He has authored articles and books on Shakespeare and the Arden edition of Julius Caesar.  He edited the Penguin edition of William Tyndale’s Obedience of a Christian Man. Yale University Press published his editions of Tyndale’s New Testament and Tyndale’s Old Testament.  He is also the author of that magnum opus: William Tyndale: A Biography.  The latter is a must-read.

Chapter 9, William Tyndale, 1494—1536, pages 133-159

Again, this is long, but should be digested and memorialized.  One saying is worth memorializing from Tyndale:  Rome is afraid of the Bible and the Bible will pull down the Pope (whom we call the Italian head-priest in Rome).

Prof. Daniell’s’ book is divided in “pre-printing” and “post-printing” periods in England.  In the pre-print period: (1) Bible in Britain to AD 850, (2) the Anglo-Saxon Bibles and glosses, (3) Wyclif and Lollards, and (4) the 14th-15th centuries of severe Parliamentary, Canterburian, and Anglo-Italian repressions of the English Bible. In the “post-print” period, Prof Daniel’s discussed: (1) Erasmus’ Greek NT, 1516, with the Continent-wide explosion of vernacular Bibles, (2) the effects in the English Reformation and, now, chapter 9, (3) William Tyndale, AD 1494-1536.

By way of introduction, Prof. Daniell covers the: (1) significance of the printed Bible in England, (2) Tyndale’s early years, (3) Tyndale in Gloucestershire, (4) Tyndale in London, (5) Tyndale in Cologne, AD 1525, (6) Tyndale’s 1526 Worms NT, (7) Tyndale’s Parable of Wicked Mammon and The Obedience of the Christian Man, (8) Tyndale’s Pentateuch, (9) Tyndale, More and The Practice of Prelates, (9) Tyndale NT expositions, (10) Tyndale’s 1534 NT, (11) Tyndale and Frith, (12) Tyndale’s arrest and imprisonment, (13) the Inquisition (of the Italian agents = Popes and facilitators), (14) Tyndale’s Martyrdom, and (15) Tyndale’s legacy.


The story of the Tudor Bibles used to be told as sacred history. But, in 20th century scholarship, for some, the Bible was “the foundation of monarchial authority…the textbook of morality and social subordination” (134).  (Hill, Christopher.  The English Bible and the Seventeenth Century Revolution. New York: Penguin Books, 1995, 5  Available at: We would add that there is truth here, especially with the Goateed-Goat of Canterbury, Billy-goat Laud; old Billy-goat could never preach a sermon without extolling Royal Absolutism; he never saw a communion table that he didn’t idolize like an idolater, unfortunately, the constant impulse to power has always been an uncorrected and ugly proclivity in Anglican DNA. On the other hand, the Bible was also the handbook for challenging monarchial absolutism. As Horace Greely would say centuries later, “It is impossible to subjugate a Bible-reading people.”  Add in the martyrs of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, loyal to their governors, but not willing to yield on the sovereignty of the Risen Redeemer.  Hear! Hear!

In the late 20th century, the latest twist is the denial of the Bible’s role.  The Anglo-Italians, or English-Italian types, have argued that there was no Reformation except for the “high-powered destroyers” (135).  The English Reformation was a “failure.” 

Christopher Haigh is one such chap.  Haigh, Christopher. English Reformations: Religion, Politics, and Society under the Tudors. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. offers the following: “`English Reformations’ is the new approach to the study of the Reformation in England. Christopher Haigh's reportedly disproves the facile assumption that the triumph of Protestantism was inevitable, and goes beyond the surface of official political policy to explore the religious views and practices of ordinary English people. With the benefit of hindsight, other historians have traced the course of the Reformation as a series of events inescapably culminating in the creation of the English Protestant establishment. Haigh sets out to recreate the sixteenth century as a time of excitement and insecurity, with each new policy or ruler causing the reversal of earlier religious changes. This is a scholarly and stimulating book, which challenges traditional ideas about the Reformation and offers a powerful and convincing alternative analysis.”  Available at:  Talk about facile.  On Haigh’s view, the English Reformation was “wished on a reluctant nation by a faction at the Tudor courts” (135), those Protestant guerillas and bullies.  It avoids Patrick Collinson’s governing and wider question:  how did such a ruthlessly and abusively Anglo-Italian country become so strongly and permanently Anglo-Protestant?

Parishes, throughout the land, did buy the Bible [Great Bible] and it was read too. The Bible was seeping into English life. Up to 1539, 50,000 copies of Tyndale’s and Coverdale’s NT were printed abroad and were for sale in London” (137). In 1535-38, Thomas Swynnerton, in his handbook on rhetoric noted, “Every man hath a New Testament in his hand.” While overstated, we feel, it caught a new mood and sense of the role of the Bible in London—in vernacular, notwithstanding the Anglo-Italian hostilities for “that pestiferous book.”  As Tyndale repeatedly said: “Rome is afraid of the Bible.”

In the 1530s, English speakers were an unregarded minority, unlike today with the globalization of English. What Tyndale bought “in blood and ashes” would one day be international, but little could he or any other Englishman, King or otherwise, have foreseen that.  While Tyndale was on the Continent in Germany translating his Bible, a young man in Norwich was burned alive for having a “piece of paper” on which was written “the Lord’s Prayer.”

Bishop Westcott, 1868, noted that Tyndale’s “popular rather than literary” and “simple dialect” endowed the Bible with “permanence” (136).  Four fifths (4/5s) of the KJV is Tyndale, 85 years later when “Shakespeare was at his peak” (136).

While Latin was the language of government, the professions and Anglo-Italians, Tyndale was giving a “strong direct prose line,” a “Saxon vocabulary and “Saxon subject-verb-object” word order, with “clarity and simplicity” (146).  Tyndale understood the “real source of power in the English language…verbs at the center of verbal power.”  After all, he was a Master of eight languages (unlike any senior clerks in the ACNA), walking in the fear of the LORD and with humility, who didn’t impugn ploughboys as “swine.” 


Tyndale was probably born in 1494 in Gloucestershire.  His family was prosperous and spread over Northamptonshire, Essex and Norfolk. He was well-connected.  Prof. Daniell notes that Tyndale was—our word, Daniell talks of prosperity and connectedness—better bred than other Anglo-Italians such as Tunstall, Wolsey, Stokesley and even More. He took his BA at Magdalen Hall, Oxford in 4 JUL 1512. He took his MA on 2 JUL 1515. He began to read theology, but was appalled that this did not include the Bible. He and some friends began reading and discussing the Bible.  It is to be noted that Magdalen Hall had been home to Erasmus.  Also, Erasmus, the international scholar, had been the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, 1509.  In March 1516, Erasmus was in Basle and his Novum Instrumentum with explosive Preface was printed—the volume that motored the Continent-wide flood of vernaculars shortly thereafter.

Text Box: Figure 13-St. Mary's, Bristol, UKWILLIAM TYNDALE—GLOUCESTERSHIRE AGAIN, 141-142.

Tyndale became a tutor to the children of Sir John and Lady Walsh at the Little Sodbury Manor. He may have started his translation activity at this point. For the family and to their growth toward reform themselves, Tyndale translated Erasmus’ Encchiridion militas christiani.  It became a matter of family discussion. He came to be in popular demand, preaching at St. Mary’s in Bristol. Bristol was a center for Lollardy with a strong commitment to the Bible. Tyndale was accused of heresy and was brought before the chancellor of the senior Anglo-Italian priest. Several accounts of the meeting survive, including Tyndale’s. Tyndale recalls the incident in his Prologue to Genesis, 1530:  Tyndale said he was “threatened grievously…reviled…and he treated me as a dog” (141).  Other accounts survive. Even Thomas More in London heard about it. There was “a lot of shouting,” but little else appears to have developed insofar as documentation. One man in Bristol told Tyndale that “the pope is the very antichrist” and “if you continued preaching the Scriptures it will cost you your life” (141).  Well…the old man had it right…he understood official policy…it was the policy of the King, Parliament, and the Anglo-Italians in Canterbury, York, Norfolk, London and other sees rooted in Parliamentary and Church law—no preaching with or from English vernacular “pestiferous” Bibles. Furthermore, not even possession of vernacular Scriptures.


Tyndale sought but was denied permission to begin a vernacular translation after the fashion of Erasmus’ recommendations in the explosive Preface.  Explosive as an idea—vernacular Bibles.  Cuthbert Tunstall had been supportive of Erasmus. But, he didn’t support Erasmus on this—no “pestiferous” vernaculars. This part of Erasmus’ regime for renewal was not in the Anglo-Italian’s program, however. He met with the Anglo-Italian in London about spring of 1523. Letters of recommendation were sent from Sir John Walsh, but a response indicated that “…there is no room in my lord of London’s palace to translate the new testament [sic]” (141).  No room in a bishop’s “palace” to translate the NT?  Sound like “no room in the Bethlehem Inn for the birth of the Incarnate Word. Who the hell believes that crock of brewing and juicy crap in the crockpot of this Anglo-Italian?  Remember, Luther’s fame was widespread by this point and his German “September Bible” had rolled off the presses in 1522. Tyndale was a master of eight languages: Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, English, French and German.  No room in the palace?  Yet, the Anglo-Italian had room at his palace for horses and carriages.  Room for a bunch of horses, but not enough room for a translator of the Greek NT to English.  Welcome to Cuthbert Tunstall of later fame as a burner of human beings.  Welcome to the Anglo-Italian Church of England in 1523.

Tunstall was preoccupied with Parliament in 1523, the occasion of its first meeting in 8 years.  Meanwhile, Tyndale was preaching at and making connections with St. Dunstan’s-in-the-West on Fleet Street, London.  The church hosted numerous prosperous merchants in the textile business, including Humphrey Monmouth, who gave residence to Tyndale.  Tyndale “studied most of the day and most of the night at his book” (143). Tyndale realized that translating the Greek NT into the vernacular would not be allowed in London or anywhere in England.  The only option was the Continent in some haven of safety and greater liberty…away from the hostile Anglo-Italianate policy of the Church of England, Canterbury and London.  In early 1524, Tyndale left for Germany with support from Monmouth.  Monmouth himself would later run afoul of the Anglo-Italians in London in 1528.


1516—Erasmus’ Greek NT is printed with several print-reruns afterwards. By 1517, Luther is opposing the senior clerk in Rome. In 1522, Luther’s “September Bible” was hot off the press. By 1525, Tyndale is in Cologne, Germany.  By this time, Tyndale has been accused of being an “arch-heretic Lutheran” (143). Mozley believes Tyndale met Luther. (Mozley, J.F. Coverdale and His Bibles.  James Clarke and Co., 2004. and William Tyndale. London: Society for the Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1937. Prof. Daniell is not convinced, however.  Tyndale did have Miles Coverdale and the Observant friar William Roy as assistants.  He may have been joined by John Frith. Peter Quesnell, an eminent publisher who would print any respectable volume of any persuasion, including Tyndale, took to too much wine.  “Under the influence” Quesnell told Cochlaeus (John Dobneck), a vitriolic and virulent anti-Lutheran, “the secret by which England was to be brought over to the side of Luther” (143).  Palace intrigue inside the Anglo-Italian house, as it were. The print shop was raided by Imperialists. Tyndale and Roy escaped up the Rhine to a safe-city, Worms, Germany, home and center for famous rabbinic studies and Hebrew Bibles.  Cochlaeus reported that the print-run of 3,000—6,000 volumes had happened.  Matthew 1—22 made it into England, including the Prologue to Matthew, largely (about 2/3s) a translation of Luther with Tyndalian flourishes.


In late 1525, both Tyndale and Roy were in the Lutheran-safe city of Worms. The NT was completed in 1526, an “octavo pocket-size” and handy edition without prologues or marginal notes. These published editions were smuggled down the Rhine and into English and Scottish ports. This “alarmed English authorities” (144).  Our Anglo-Text Box: Figure 14- Senior Anglo-Italian clerk, bishop of London, Cuthbert TunstallItalian friend, the senior clerk in London (called a bishop), Tyndale’s friend who had no room in his palace for a NT translator or translation…old Cuthbert Tunstall…issued his infamous proclamation in October 1526.  It was a “prohibition of the book,” Tyndale’s book, a book “in the English [sic] tongue that pestiferous and most pernicious poyson [sic] dispersed through all of our dioces [sic] of London in great number [sic]” (144).  Booksellers were warned. As a public gesture of his serious intent, by the deities of Rome, on 27 Oct 1526, he held a book-burning with a sermon, including the imputation of over 2000 errors to Tyndale’s work (not surprising since Tyndale was working from the Greek, not Latin).  Of course, “errors” was Tunstall’s term. One consequence was that Tunstall put forward money to buy the 1526 NTs from the printer in Antwerp.  Tunstall had a chaplain in the Low Countries who reported that many had been burned “both heir [sic] and beyond the see” (144). In coordination and concurrence with the anti-Tyndale-policy, the Anglo-Italian clerk of Canterbury, William Warham, wrote all the diocesans of England to send money in order to buy up Tyndale’s NT.  Richard Nix, the senior cleric of Norwich, on 14 JUN 1527, sent 10 marks, promising more money, and congratulating the Archbishop for “the blessed deed” (144).  In NOV 1527, Wolsey arrested the Cambridge scholar, Thomas Bilney.  A new onslaught was at hand.  Things tightened up. “Records of depositions of many of the arrested people” reveals they had been reading Tyndale’s NT.  Englishmen knew of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Whitsuntide by “fractions” of the Bible—and that in Latin—but had never had exposure to the Bible, especially Paul’s epistles. The Anglo-Italian Church of England had permitted “Gospel Harmonies” to circulate, but many words of Jesus and all the epistles were largely excluded.  What was entirely new also—this was the first time England had a translation directly from the Greek. The complete letters of St. Paul—new. Romans and justification by faith alone was new. And—“most of parts of the country had groups of people meeting to read and hear the Word so newly arrived” (145).  Edward Hall’s Chronicle tells of Cuthbert Tunstall, London’s Inquisitor, in Antwerp with the design to buy up and burn Tyndale’s NT. “Parkington, the printer, had the thanks and money.  Tunstall had the books. Tyndale had his cut on the profits” for another print re-run. Let’s say that “demand was high” and Tyndale’s popularity and unpopularity was on the rise.

Parable of Wicked Mammon and The Obedience of the Christian Man, 146—149.

Tyndale was probably living in or near Antwerp.  On 8 MAY 1528—you guessed it.  The Parable of Wicked Mammon was printed in the customary small octavo, pocket-sized edition.  Handy. Stealthy.  Easily hidden. And dangerous since the Anglo-Italian Empire feared exposure of the corruptions and abuses—de fide (doctrine), worship and practice. The interrogations, however, by the Anglo-Italian Inquisitors in England, Prof. Daniell tells us, were “much-sharpened” (146). It was officially banned—again—as “heretical” on 24 MAY 1530. The Devils were screeching in dioceses.

The most influential was The Obedience of the Christian Man, published on 20 OCT 1528. The enemies of Tyndale and other English Reformers were howling “sedition,” “heresy” and “treason.”  Tyndale was wont to make two points typically: (1) the supreme authority of the Bible in the church and (2) the supreme authority of the King in the state.  A usual refrain for Tyndale was that, from the Pope down to the friar, the “church was selling for money what Christ gave freely.” Tyndale takes the time to attack the “dueling” and “competing” schools of metaphysics.  It was widely read. The senior clerics (called bishops) imputed “fifty-four articles of heresy” to Tyndale (146).  These matters, Prof. Daniell tells us, emerges in the interrogations of “humble people.” Ann Boleyn read the publication. Henry VIII read it too, saying, “This is a book for me and all kings to read” (146).  So much for the Anglo-Italian bishops in their Roman armor—the King of England put a dent in the armor.


Rabbinic schools flourished in Europe, notably at Worms. Tyndale may have learned his Hebrew or more fully developed it there.  Worms was “the main centre of Jewish learning” (147). There were only 2 Hebrew scholars at Cambridge and they were not interested in translation activity—hah, it would have violated church and state law.  In JAN 1530, the English version of “The First Book of Moses Called Genesis” with a Prologue was off the press; it also included Exodus to Deuteronomy.  Incidentally, Tyndale was aged 36 and Cranmer was 47, laboring away quietly in his Cambridge home while Tyndale was a fugitive. The Prologue spoke of the need to “read day and night” but not just to “read and talk,” but to “desire God day and night instantly to open our eyes” (148).  Tyndale constantly warned about “disputers and brawlers about vain words…ever gnawing upon the bitter bark” (148).  He again opposes “barren scholastic metaphysics” (148).  This volume had 6 marginal notes for Genesis compared to Luther’s 72 for his German vernacular edition; there 132 marginal notes for the Pentateuch; the senior priest in Rome, the Pope, got 24 mentions; “The Pope’s bull slayeth more than Aaron’s calf at Ex. 32.”


By 1528, Thomas More—as well as the Anglo-Italian bishop, John Fisher—was a seasoned enemy of Luther.  Cranmer was still digesting Fisher’s works.

By way of digression.

Fisher, John. The English Works of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester (1469–1535): Sermons and other Writings, 1520–1535, edited by Cecilia A. Hatt, Oxford University Press, 2002.  It’s a bit pricey, but we believe it will give insights.  Mr. Fisher was an international scholar.  He was vigorously combatting Luther and Oecolampadius in the 1520s.  Where was Cranmer? Available at:  Another edition that Ms. Hatt’s is available online:  Also, available online, an 1877 edition of Fisher’s works, at:

By 1528, the Anglo-Italian bishop of London, Cuthbert Tunstall “permitted” More to read “heretical books” in order to attack Tyndale.  And attack he did.  More, along with Tunstall, was “determined to crush heretics if need be by fire” (149).  In JUN 1529, More published More’s Dialogue Concerning Heresy.  In Book 3, Tyndale’s NT was “demolished as heresy.” Tyndale was “worse than Luther” (149).  Tyndale’s offenses: “senior” for “priest,” “congregation” for “church,” “love” for “charity,” and “repent” for “do penance.” Tyndale issued a rejoinder in 1531 with An Answer unto sir Thomas More’s Dialogue; he condemns the church for perversions of the Scriptures and its corruptions, subjects upon which Tyndale notes More was silent.  Then, in 1532, More launches the attack with his massive salvo—Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer.  It was 10 books in length with 2000 pages and over 500, 000 words.  Book V impales Robert Barnes (who’ll later go to the flames).  The other 9 books impale Tyndale.  Bottom-line: GAME ON!

Even Nicholas Harpsfield, an Anglo-Italian cleric, felt More was “disordered” (148).

A brief digression on Harpsfield. 

Harpsfield, Nicholas.  The Pretended Divorce Between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. No location: Hardpress Publishing, 2013.  It should be noted that Mr. Harpsfield was also a Marian and Papal apologist, who wrote several volumes.  During Mary 1’s reign (1553—1558) he supervised 100s of criminal trials against Reformed Churchmen.  Foxe says he was “pitiless.”  He also replaced Mr. Cranmer’s brother as the Archdeacon of Canterbury.  He also wrote The Six Dialogues.  Mr. Harpsfield did brig time under Ms. (Queen) Elizabeth 1. The Pretended Divorce is available at: It is also available online at:

Even Harpsfield felt More’s diatribes were over-the-top. Tyndale was, according to Prof. Daniell, “intemperately pilloried on every page” (148).  One example suffices to illustrate the 2000 pages. Tyndale was a “hell-hound in the kennel of the devil…discharging a filthy foam of blasphemies out of his brutish beastly mouth.” And on and on. More does follow-ons with Apology and Debellation of Salem and Bizance,” both produced in 1533.

Tyndale put out The Practice of Prelates in 1530.  The word “practice” in Tyndale’s time meant “trickery” (149). The Pope’s conspiracy was“ivy strangling the nation’s tree.”  By the way, he also opposed Henry’s divorce to Catherine, something that would not augur well with a Tudor despot.  Tyndale was 36 years old.  Cranmer was 47.

Where was Cranmer?  The Reformation narrative may need adjustment giving a great role to Tyndale and the Bible. We’ll ponder it.


In 1530, Tyndale also expanded his 1525 Cologne Fragment and turned it into a book: A Pathway to the Holy Scriptures. It was a guide to reading the NT.  Again, his NT has already landed in English and Scottish ports. He also expounds on Paul’s Romans, ever a dangerous volume to the Romanists.

In SEPT 1531, he writes An Exposition upon the First Epistle of John warning the reader of St. John’s injunction, “Little children, beware of images…” Tyndale extends mockery to saint-worship and statutes.  Perhaps, Tyndale was thinking of More’s intemperance, hostility and the burnings that had occurred. The Devil wasn’t showing any love on English soil or in the souls of English diocesans, notably, Canterbury and London.

In 1533, he wrote An Exposition upon the V, VI, VII Chapters of Matthew.  He comments on works that arise from faith as well as corrupt church practices. 

The Brief Declaration of the Sacraments was published posthumously in 1548 equating “eating” with “inner faith,” a position for which Frith died earlier.  A position that remains, in terms of the Articles, the official position of the Church of England 450 years later (amidst the other apostasies in fact).  Tyndale notes that he was “saved by the merits of Christ and not by works, saints or masses” (149).


There were 4 re-issues of the 1526 Worms NT from Antwerp’s publisher, VanEndhoven.  It is fair to say that the Continent assisted and helped in the purging England of the Anglo-Italians…over time.  The “demand was high in England” (151), persecutors notwithstanding. The 1534 edition has a prologue for every book but Acts and Revelation.  Of interest, he translates Luther’s Prologue to Romans.  One of these editions went to Ann Boleyn, the 3-year adulteress with Henry and the mother of an illegitimate child, the future Queen of England, Elizabeth 1.

83% of the KJV NT will be the 1534 edition, 77 years later.


Tyndale probably knew Frith in England. Frith and his family (married, a novelty for English Reformers) were definitely with Tyndale in the Low Countries.  Foxe will print 2 letters from Tyndale to Frith in 1531 who, back in the Anglo-Italian diocese of London, is in jail.  Tyndale’s letters are full of Scripture, exhorting him to fidelity in the face of impending martyrdom (where’s old Tom Cranmer?). He tells Frith to quote the Bible when the sacraments are discussed.  Frith gets a letter back to Tyndale saying “he [Tyndale] was more worthy than all the bishops in England [hint, hint including Cranmer, we must infer]…for his faithful, clear and innocent heart” (152).

This brief digression from Wikipedia on John Frith:

“Trial and death

“Frith was tried before many examiners and bishops, and produced his own writings as evidence for his views that were deemed as heresy. He was sentenced to death by fire and offered a pardon if he answered positively to two questions: Do you believe in purgatory, and do you believe in transubstantiation? He replied that neither purgatory nor transubstantiation could be proven by Holy Scriptures, and thus was condemned as a heretic and was transferred to the secular arm for his execution on 23 June 1533. He was burned at the stake on 4 July 1533 at Smithfield, London for, he was told, his soul's salvation. (King Henry VIII was excommunicated one week later.)


Thomas Cranmer would later subscribe to Frith's views on purgatory, and published the 42 articles which explicitly denied purgatory. Frith's works were posthumously published in 1573 by John Foxe.


Tyndale was safe in the house of Thomas Poyntz and his wife. John Rogers had been the chaplain for English merchants since late 1534. He was near finishing the OT. In spring 1535, a certain Henry Phillips, a reported bully and ne’er-do-well, insinuated himself into Tyndale’s circle, including Poyntz.  The Anglo-Italian diocesan, Stokesley, was the alleged orchestrator-in-the-background.  Phillips, having squandered an inheritance, was “for hire.” On 21 May 1531, imperial officers seized Tyndale.  Poyntz’s home was raided and Tyndale’s books and papers were confiscated.  Fortunately, John Rogers had the OT papers.  Tyndale, however, was imprisoned in the Castle of Vilvoorde, outside Brussels. He was in jail for 16 months.  There was political-back-and-forth over diplomatic privileges.  But the Emperor, Charles V, at court in Brussels, was not in much of a favorable mood following Henry’s disgraces and disrespects to his aunt, Catherine of Aragon…not only a divorce, but a most serious insult.  (The Pope would excommunicate old Henry but who cares about some senior priest’s revilings in Rome?)


Tyndale was subjected to long exams.  The procurer-general, the Inquisitor’s office, was Pierre Dufief, a man known “for cruelty” (154).  He was known as a “heresy hunter.” He was driven “by large fees and getting a portion of confiscated properties” (154). Tyndale’s crime was “Lutheranism.” Tyndale was a “great catch;” his downfall “would remove heresy from England” (154).  He faced 17 commissioners and 3 chief accusers.  He declined counsel and represented himself.  One of the accusers was Jacobus Latomus, another great “heresy hunter” from the new Romanist University of Leuven/Louvain.  Latomus had been a long-time opponent of Erasmus as well as Luther. Tyndale defended himself, quoting Scriptures.  Latomus wrote a “detailed record” published in 1550.

Tyndale wrote his defense in a book Sola Fides Justificat Apud Deum, “justified by faith alone before God.” Latomus was not trying to convict him of heresy; that had already been decided; rather, the effort was to reclaim him to Italian theology.  According to Prof. Daniell, Latomus was polite and courteous to the 42-year old translator and fairly representing Tyndale’s views.  Commendable, gentility and politeness just before the Inquisitors gather the brush, the logs and the wood for the heretic’s stake.

During the imprisonment, Tyndale asked for warmer clothes and some light for the evenings.  He also asked for the Hebrew Bible, a grammar, and dictionary (Reuchlin’s German dictionary).  The responses to the requests are unknown.  The jail-keeper, his daughter and her family were converted from Italian to Reformed theology.

Even the generally hostile procurer-general, Pierre Dufief, said, “Tyndale was a homo doctus, pietus et bonus, a “learned, godly (reverent) and good.” (155).

Tyndale gave England 2 NTs, a Pentateuch, other OT books, and pocket-sized books.

The Anglo-Italian senior clerk of London, Tunstall, was replaced by Stokesley who “restarted the policy of burning heretics, not just their books” (156).  The Devils were acting on both sides of the English Channel.

Even before Tyndale was arrested, he had no assurances that his work was making progress.  A heavy-curtain kept intel from him. He was always in hiding. At times, he was always shifting.  He was a marked man.  He had no idea that 1000s of versions would, in time, go around the globe.  English as a language was that of an unregarded minority…in one sense.  It was not the majority-language of the Continent. He lived in the dank cell.  He walked by faith alone by God’s grace and might alone.


He was condemned in 1536. He probably, like Cranmer and his fellow clerks when they went to the stake, was publically and ceremonially degraded from the priesthood—with the standard rituals.  A great assembly gathered on 6 OCT 1536.  The stake, the brushwood, and the logs of wood were gathered.  As a scholar, he was strangled first.  Then, he was burned.  Before death, he is said to have prayed: “LORD, open the King of England’s eyes.”

John Rogers assembled all of Tyndale’s translations.  They were—once again—printed by Matthew Crom in Antwerp. Since Tyndale was a “heretic” Rogers retitled the title page with “Thomas and Matthew” (for two disciples). 1500 copies of “Matthew’s Bible” were imported to England and “sold out” (157). Within 2 months of Tyndale’s martyrdom, the English Bible (2/3rds by Tyndale) was “licensed by Henry VIII and was circulating” in England (157).  In time, the Geneva Bible (1560, 1576, 1599), ever popular, would come to the English revisers for James 1, 1607-1611, producing the KJV


Besides the NT, Pentateuch and the entire Bible in time, 3 volumes really put the squeeze on the Anglo-Italians: Wicked Mammon, Obedience, and his exposition of Romans.  Tyndale’s importance cannot be overstated.  We are inclined to think that Tyndale was the chief architect of the Reformation, not the waffled senior clerk in Canterbury, Tom Cranmer.  But, that’s under review. What England had had with “fractions” and “tidbits” of the Bible, Latin-saturated services for Latin-illiterate throngs, they now had with an “entire Bible.”

On 22 JUN 1530, Henry VIII, in good Anglo-Italian fashioned served as a ventriloquist for the senior priest in Rome.  Henry said that Tyndale had “produced pestiferous English books, printed in other regions…to pervert…the people…to stir and incense them to sedition” (159).

As Tyndale frequently said, “Rome is afraid of the Scripture… which will pull down papal authority” (160).  Luther had said the same thing repeatedly.

But, by and by, the English Bible was unleashed in England.

No comments: