Despite what the title might lead you to believe, this isn’t really a religious book. It’s a history book, telling the story behind the English Bible and the man who did so much of that translating.
It was assigned reading for a class I took in grad school, and I was thrilled to discover it was a fascinating account. Moynahan’s work gave me a deeper understanding of the King James Translation – I had never known that so much of that translation was actually based on Tyndale’s earlier work. Kind of funny, isn’t it? He was put to death by the King of England for translating the Bible into English, and later years another King of England had his name attached to a translation that used a large amount of that “heretic’s” work.
Wondering why you should care about these ancient events and personalities? Tyndale’s impact on the later King James translation has resulted in his continuing influence on our language today. It’s an amazing story, and I found myself wishing he’d lived long enough to finish translating the Old Testament.
The English Bible—the mot familiar book in our language—is the product of a man who was exiled, vilified, betrayed, then strangled, then burnt.
William Tyndale left England in 1524 to translate the word of God into English. This was heresy, punishable by death. Sir Thomas More, hailed as a saint and a man for all seasons, considered it his divine duty to pursue Tyndale. He did so with an obsessive ferocity that, in all probability, led to Tyndale’s capture and death.
The words that Tyndale wrote during his desperate exile have a beauty and familiarity that still resonate across the English-speaking world: “Death, where is thy sting?…eat, drink, and be merry…our Father which art in heaven.”
His New Testament, which he translated, edited, financed, printed, and smuggled into England in 1526, passed with few changes into subsequent versions of the Bible. So did those books of the Old Testament that he lived to finish.
Brian Moynahan’s lucid and meticulously researched biography illuminates Tyndale’s life, from his childhood in England, to his death outside Brussels. It chronicles the birth pangs of the Reformation, the wrath of Henry VIII, the sympathy of Anne Boleyn, and the consuming malice of Thomas More. Above all, it reveals the English Bible as a labor of love, for which a man in an age more spiritual than our own willingly gave his life.
Title: God’s Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible–A Story of Martyrdom and Betrayal
Author: Brian Moynahan
Category: Nonfiction / History / Biography
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Previously on The Deliberate Reader
One year ago: Yes, Chef
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