A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Tyndale, William

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Tyndale, William (1484?-1536).—Translator of the Bible, belonged to a northern family which, migrating to Gloucestershire during the Wars of the Roses, adopted the alternative name of Huchyns or Hychins, which T. himself bore when at Oxf. in 1510. After graduating there, he went to Camb., where the influence of Erasmus, who had been Prof. of Theology, still operated. He took orders, and in 1522 was a tutor in the household of Sir John Walsh of Old Sodbury, and was preaching and disputing in the country round, for which he was called to account by the Chancellor of the diocese. At the same time he translated a treatise by Erasmus, the Enchiridion Militis Christiani (Manual of the Christian Soldier), and in controversy with a local disputant prophesied that he would cause that "a boye that driveth the plough" should know the Scriptures better than his opponent. Having formed the purpose of translating the New Testament T. went in 1523 to London, and used means towards his admission to the household of Tunstal, Bishop of London, but without success; he then lived in the house of a wealthy draper, Humphrey Monmouth, where he probably began his translation. Finding, however, that his work was likely to be interfered with, he proceeded in 1524 to Hamburg, whence he went to visit Luther at Wittenberg. He began printing his translation at Cologne the following year, but had to fly to Worms, where the work was completed. The translation itself is entirely T.'s work, and is that of a thorough scholar, and shows likewise an ear for the harmony of words. The notes and introduction are partly his own, partly literal translations, and partly the gist of the work of Luther. From Germany the translation was introduced into England, and largely circulated until forcible means of prevention were brought to bear in 1528. In this year T. removed to Marburg, where he pub. The Parable of the Wicked Mammon, a treatise on Justification by Faith, and The Obedience of a Christian Man, setting forth that Scripture is the ultimate authority in matters of faith, and the King in matters of civil government. Thereafter, having been at Hamburg and Antwerp, T. returned to Marburg, and in 1530 pub. his translation of the Pentateuch and The Practice of Prelates, in which he attacked Wolsey and the proposed divorce proceedings of Henry VIII., the latter of whom endeavoured to have him apprehended. Thereafter he was involved in a controversy with Sir Thomas More. In 1533 he returned to Antwerp, Henry's hostility having somewhat cooled, and was occupied in revising his translations, when he was in 1535 betrayed into the hands of the Imperial officers and carried off to the Castle of Vilvorde, where the next year he was strangled and burned. T. was one of the most able and devoted of the reforming leaders, and his, the foundation of all future translations of the Bible, is his enduring monument. He was a small, thin man of abstemious habits and untiring industry.