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Book of Fire: William Tyndale, Thomas More and the Bloody Birth of the English Bible [Paperback]

Brian Moynahan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 Jan 2011
The great echoing phrases of the King James Bible that have boomed through the English-speaking mind for 400 years ? an eye for an eye, drink and be merry ...death, where is thy sting? shall not live by bread alone ? are largely the work of a man whose genius for words matches Shakespeare. But William Tyndale, the young Gloucestershire tutor who wrote them, paid for them with his life. He was persecuted, exiled and eventually burned at the stake. Book of Fire is the thrilling, moving story of the man who first translated the word of God into the English vernacular. Tyndale did so in defiance of church and state, hunted by the implacable enmity and the agents of the sainted Thomas More. He was finally betrayed, but by then his courage and poetic instinct had provided the backbone of the single most significant work in the English language. The Tudor heretic had changed the literary, religious and political landscape for ever.

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Book of Fire: William Tyndale, Thomas More and the Bloody Birth of the English Bible + William Tyndale: A Biography (Yale Nota Bene)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (20 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349123225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349123226
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 316,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian Moynahan was an award-winning foreign correspondent and European editor with the Sunday Times. His many books include The Faith: A History of Christianity, The Russian Century, Comrades, The Claws of the Bear, Rasputin. Forgotten Soldiers, his first book for Quercus, was published in 2007 with Jungle Soldier following in 2009.

Product Description

About the Author

Brian Moynahan worked as a journalist for the YORKSHIRE POST and THE TIMES and currently works for several British and American newspapers. He is the author of THE BRITISH CENTURY, THE RUSSIAN CENTURY, and A BIOGRAPHY OF RASPUTIN.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
ISBN-13: 978-0349123226 Kindle Edition. 5 stars

Brain Moynahan's book is subtitled `William Tyndale, Thomas More and the Bloody Birth of the English Bible' and I read it in the Kindle version. As far I can see the book is now `out of print' other than for Kindle readers but second hand copies are available.

William Tyndale is my hero and David Daniell's book `William Tyndale: a biography' might have thought to have been the definitive work. Moynahan's book relies heavily on Daniell but brings a thrilling pace to the personal conflict between Thomas More and William Tyndale. Moynahan is more than sympathetic to Tyndale and clearly hostile to More but the dynamic between the two men, who never met, is brought out in a very vivid manner.

I am very familiar with the storyline of these events but Moynahan really seems to get into the character of the two men who provide a fascinating contrast to each other. This book also reveals how a `committee' of the King James Version were able to produce such masterpiece of style and accuracy; they lifted over 80% of Tyndale's New Testament for their new translation!

Moynahan's writing has been described as being, "mercifully free of the sludge that often clogs academic treatises". This book however is not a novel but a carefully researched and documented history written with the skill of an accomplished communicator. He has produced that rarest of books... a historical page turner. The book captures the continual threat of arrest and execution that was the background to the whole translation process and makes the reader conscious of the enormous debt of gratitude that we owe to such men as William Tyndale.

Warmly recommended and a `must read' for anyone interested in the romance of Bible translation. 5 stars.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great yarn as well as rich history. 21 Nov 2011
By Stefan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A general reader should not be disappointed with this history and only the lack of page references might put off a serious historian. It reads almost like a novel in places with stories of high politics, low cunning, espionage, double agents, bible-running for 500% markups, bible pirating and dry theology used for torture and execution. It shows the brilliant and high-minded Tyndale taking a principled stand against the mafia-style protection racket of the Catholic church elite, but undone by his own lack of polical awareness and the machinations of (Saint!!!) Thomas More. There is a credible circumstantial case against More for secretly arranging Tyndale's arrest abroad and, far from the noble figure of the play and film "A Man for All Seasons", More is depicted as given to extra-judicial imprisonment and torture (sometimes in his own home) while still the foremost legal officer of England, Lord Chancellor. I hadn't realised that Anne Boleyn was supporting the cause of translation of the Bible into English and had read it in French before she was ever courted by Henry VIII. Moynahan has done a fine job of unravelling Tyndale's attempts at self-effacement while on the run and showing how much the English Language owes to Tyndale.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read with caution! 14 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I concur with others that this is an interesting and pleasant read. There are many titbits of information and plenty of quotes, which are mostly given in the original spelling. The book certainly seems informative, but given the obvious biases and glaring inaccuracies that I have spotted, I am not sure how far I can trust some of it. Tyndale (like Wolsey) is very much the saint and More the sinner in this work, although a few of the former's vices and the latter's virtues are mentioned. The author is obviously a glowing admirer of Tyndale, believing that almost any change which the committee of the authorised version made to his text was for the worse (although he gives a few exceptions on page 362). Although I believe that there are many more passages which were improved in the KJV (see "When God Spoke English: The Making of the King James Bible"); the real problem is that to prove his point Brian Moynahan sometimes quotes from the Revised Version (RV) of 1885, falsely attributing the quote to the Authorised Version (AV) [aka the King James Bible, which was originally produced in 1611].

For example, on page 60 he uses the RV text of Mathew 7:27: "and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof"; when the AV was actually in agreement with the Tyndale version he is praising: "And the raine descended, and the floods came, and the windes blew, and beat vpon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

Similarly, on page 105, he states that the AV changed "gates of hell" to "gates of Hades" in Matthew 16:18; but it didn't: again that change was only made by the Revised Version.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bible translations 1 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having bought Daniell's presentation of Tyndale's New Testament I was very interested to buy this overview of the trials those brave translators went through. It is an excellent introduction to someone like me who is not very informed.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Can't see other reviewers' fuss ... 30 Sep 2013
By Dr. K. E. Patrick TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I intend to return to this review after I've finished the book, but so far, the thrilling historical ride that's described by every other reviewer just isn't happening in the copy I'm reading.

I've read plenty of non-fiction books written by journalists who manage to make things clip along at a good pace, produce genuine page-turners, and bridge the gap between "high history" and "common knowledge".

Instead, Moynahan's book is a fairly dry slog about the early life of Tyndale. Maybe it picks up here before long, but right now, I'm only reading it for a book club I'm doing; otherwise, I'm not sure I'd persevere.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read
Fascinating book. Highly recommended. Only downside is that many of the quotes from the day are given in their original spelling which makes reading them difficult. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Henry Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars great buy
I chose top rating because this book,is a one off, a must read to be able to understand which bible to trust, also unblievable low price , all in all very pleased with transaction
Published 13 months ago by alan warbrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of Fire by Brian Moynahan - William Tyndale - little known hero,...
Endearing story of William Tyndale and his life's work translating the Bible into English from the original Greek, Aramaic, and Latin and to make it available to the English... Read more
Published on 18 Aug 2012 by Grandma Judy
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Good
I bought this while I was back Dublin but I didn't get to read it till a few weeks when I go home and when I started i couldn't put it down. Read more
Published on 14 Aug 2012 by Theo Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Fire
An excellent book that really helps the reader to appreciate the sincerity and courage of the early Bible translators; people like Tyndale, who risked, and eventually lost, their... Read more
Published on 17 April 2012 by Bizwales
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Gives a good history of religious thought during the 1400s and the terrifying brutality of the period. A well written book which holds one's interest.
Published on 20 Dec 2011 by Mrs. Hjnorhtirdge
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Fire
Fascinating on history and politics and studded with quotations from the original texts this is as gripping as the best detective novel. Tyndale's English is a joy to read.
Published on 17 Dec 2011 by Pamt
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