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William Tyndale - Eat, drink, and be merry

Sign of the times…Broken hearted...The salt of the Earth…Eat drink and be Merry…all phrases still used today. They could be Shakespearean, but they are in fact the creation of William Tyndale in his ground-breaking English translation of the Bible in 1526. A project that was to get him in a whole load of trouble and lead ultimately to his death in 1536 at the age of 42.

Born in Gloucestershire in 1494, Tyndale attended Magdalen Hall (now Hertford College Oxford) where he became a BA in 1512 and Master of Arts in 1515. Tyndale was a master linguist speaking fluently in French, Greek, Hebrew, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish. It was his Greek and Hebrew that was to prove particularly useful in translating the Bible into English from original texts. Working tirelessly, he published his English bible just three years later than Luther’s German version in 1526. This book became widely distributed in the English speaking world and was a major factor in the spread of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century. His success and outspoken nature was ultimately his undoing. He fled England but was eventually arrested in Belgium, tried for Heresy and found guilty. He was executed by strangulation and then burnt at the stake.

His version of the bible lives on in the 17th Century King James 1 bible which became the biggest selling book in the English Language right up to the 20th Century. It is estimated that up to 80% of the New Testament and 70% of the old testament of this bible can be attributed to Tyndale.

Little wonder that In 2002, Tyndale was placed 26th in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.

Visit Hertford College chapel at Oxford University and you can view a specially commissioned Tyndale stain glass window gifted by the Bible Society. On that window he is surrounded by many of the other greats of bible translation including St Jerome (Latin in the 300s), Martin Luther (German in the 1500s), William Carey (Indian in the 1700s).

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