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on 28 March 2011
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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on 21 November 2011
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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on 18 August 2012
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 people. He was persecuted by Sir Thomas More, who tried to perpetuate the use of Latin to keep secret the interpretation of the Bible by the Roman Catholic Church. Eventually William Tyndale was put to death by strangulation and then his body was burned. However he was victorious in the end because most of his beautiful writing was included in the King James Bible. Both The King James Bible and the 'Book of Fire' are well worth reading.This book throws light on the development of English culture as so much of our language is peppered with quotes from Tyndale's work, and he also helped to form the way we think. In my opinion a very enjoyable book to read.
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on 2 June 2015
A thrilling account detailing one of the major landmark issues of Tudor times: what is the true Christian religion and how can we identify it? Packed with intrigue and suspense this will grip the reader after truth. There is no doubt that Tyndale was one of the bravest seekers after truth, and do you know what - he found it! A must read for those similarly inclined who delve into the Scriptures for the truth of what the Bible really teaches.
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on 10 April 2015
I found this to be a fascinating book on the early life of one of the heroes of the faith. It's amazing to read this and see how this parallels to today's society of professing Christians who don't realise (nor appreciate) the sacrifice and martyrdom that it took to get us a Bible in our own tongue. I would have given it five stars if it wasn't for the subtle on and off mocking of the King James Bible by the author.

Tyndale, whilst he did much for us, made demonstrable mistakes with his translation and clearly pushed his own distinct agenda on the translation. I've no love for the Catholics whatsoever but this fueled much of his translation ethos. Whilst the content cannot helped to be included into subsequent Bibles (16th and 17th century English, of course, barely changed at all). Errors, agendas and issues followed with all the various English bibles until the arrival of the King James Bible. This then eradicated ALL other Bibles (through no legislation or banning) and remained the de facto standard and best seller ever since - including today - of any books at all, in history. Understand that sentence in context when considering whether or not we have a perfect English Bible. Tyndale's Bible was, and is, available... yet it never "took off". It merely kick started what was to come.

There was only so much one single man could do - to which we owe him a great debt nonetheless!
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on 1 August 2013
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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on 19 August 2014
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. The standardisation of spelling is something which had not happened by then, and in fact was aided by the widespread distribution of the 1611 Authorised (KJV) Bible, though spelling was still in a state of flux in that time.
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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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on 17 April 2012
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 lives in order to bring God's Word to ordinary people, just as Jesus did. The book goes much further than telling the story of how the translations were compiled and circulated (despite the violent opposition of the church); it also shows how the early writers put down in black-and-white the shortcomings of the Church and the clergy, some of their doctrines and practices and demonstrated that they were unscriptural. This book is a real eye-opener.
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on 14 August 2012
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. Though its a historic book it reads like a novel more like a game of cat and mouse. It gives good details of the time and place it is more history then theology but it still gives a good overview and it shows a side to Thomas Moore that perhaps others may not have considered. It also amazed me how great Tyndale was at avoiding escape like a a special agent gone dark. Buy it you want to put it down
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