As William Tyndale was born, then educated, at Oxford, where he was converted; there was a special call upon his life. He spent time in translation work and in preaching. He clashed with a group of preaching friars who objected to his theme of “justification by faith alone.” When they complained to the Archdeacon, he was charged with heresy, warned and then released. Despite his controversial evangelical views, he persisted in maintaining his stance by use of the Bible as God’s law.
He had determined to bring out a new translation of the Bible. He was convinced through experience that the lay people needed the truth to read for themselves, in their original language. Despite the threat of the stake, where people had been burned for teaching their children the Lord’s Prayer, he pressed on.
England was not a safe place for his work, so William moved to Germany. He took the finished work to the center of printing in Germany to arrange its publication. But the city was hostile to the Reformation and secret plans for printing the book were discovered. William was able to rescue his work and fled. By the following year, copies of the English New Testament were being shipped to London by his friends, soon to reach the cities and universities.
As copies poured into England, they were eagerly bought and read by all sorts of ordinary people. The authorities were furious and issued an order that all “heretical” books should be seized and were publicly burned.
By 1530, most of the Old Testament was translated by William. Meanwhile agents were scouring the Continent looking for William. Eventually William was tricked by a spy of the King and was arrested by the officers. In 1535, charges were prepared against him.
At his trial, Tyndale was found guilty of being a heretic. He wouldn’t recant, so in October 1536, he was taken from his dungeon, strangled and his body burnt. Ten years before his death, William wrote that if they were to kill him, “if it be God’s will it shall be so. Nevertheless, in translating the New Testament I did my duty.”
Today 90 percent of William Tyndale’s work on the translation of the New Testament still remains as we read it in the Bible.