He was a contemporary of Martin Luther. His translation takes the English language to its highest glories: “the twinkling of an eye” “O death, where is thy sting?” “In the beginning was the Word…” “Seek and ye shall find” “Greater love than this hath no man…” “Our Father, which art in heaven.” Brian Moynihan tells us that William Tyndale’s seminal English Bible accounted for 84% of the New Testament and 75% of the Old Testament in the Authorized (aka. King James) Version.
Tyndale’s great work was produced at great peril and finally at great price. He risked all on the run from the long hand of the cruel Thomas More, who saw an English scripture as a great threat to the authority of the Catholic church, believing that a sacred book should not go into the language of commoners who would misinterpret it. And so William Tyndale secretly hopped from place to place across continental Europe, publishing his translations and other works on the newly invented printing press, forgoing marriage, family, and consistent income until he was finally betrayed by a rascal in Antwerp in 1535.
His last letter from prison should be a source of thanksgiving by all who call on Christ’s name. Some gave all to bless countless people afterward:
I believe, right worshipful, that you are not ignorant of what has been determined concerning me; therefore I entreat your Lordship, and that by the Lord Jesus, that if I am to remain here during the winter, you will request the Procurer to be kind enough to send me from my goods, which he has in his possession, a warmer cap, for I suffer extremely from cold in the head, being afflicted with a perpetual catarrh [nose/throat inflammation], which is considerably increased in the cell.
A warmer coat also, for that which I have is very thin; also a piece of cloth to patch my leggings: my overcoat has been worn out; my shirts are also worn out. He has a woolen shirt of mine, if he will be kind enough to send it. I have also with him leggings of thicker cloth for the putting on above; he also has warmer caps for wearing at night. I wish also his permission to have a candle in the evening, for it is wearisome to sit alone in the dark.
But above all, I entreat and beseech your clemency to be urgent with the Procurer that he may kindly permit me to have my Hebrew Bible, Hebrew Grammar, and Hebrew Dictionary, that I may spend my time with that study. And in return, may you obtain your dearest wish, provided always it be consistent with the salvation of your soul. But if any other resolutions have been come to concerning me, before the conclusion of the winter, I shall be patient, abiding the will of God to the glory of the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, whose spirit, I pray, may ever direct your heart. Amen.