on 15 September 2009
God, as it turns out, spared Tyndale's life long enough for him to make one of the most significant contributions to English culture and literature. The story is fascinating. Just how Tyndale managed to operate quite as covertly as he did is bordering on the miraculous. Although little is known about Tyndale's time in-hiding in Antwerp, Moynahan fills in the gaps, placing everything fully in context. The book is scholarly but also reads like a novel with Sir Thomas More chasing heretics and Tyndale frustrating him.
Moynahan gives a balanced account of both More and Tyndale. Their pamphlet `war' against each other reveals just how much they seemed to hate each other. For those who don't know, there are some surprises here; I had no idea just how hungry More was for the burning of heretics (and Moynahan questions his `sainthood'). In some ways, the book is an argument against More's apparent status in the English conscience; I'll certainly not view him the same again. The writer often suggests, after describing harrowing accounts of burnings, that More utterly relished the spectacle (and had himself broken the law to bring about convictions).
The other `hero' in the book is the English Bible itself. Much of the book is devoted to the work of translation, the choice of words, the impact on the common English people of the time and the enduring impact of every English translation of the Bible ever since. Both Tyndale and More come to `bed ends' but I'll give no more plot spoilers here; this is a `must read' for anyone interested in the history of the English Bible or the English Reformation.
on 24 February 2015
Having read, re-read and re-re-read this book, I am amazed by the clarity of thinking the Author displays. From the recount of Wycliffe's exhumation and cursing, through to the cloak-and-quill tactics of Tyndale and his patrons and his grim demise; a clear message shines through - truth will out.
One can only begin to appreciate the freedom of thinking we enjoy nowadays and lament the subsequent lack of thinking our society suffers from when you read of men and women stretching their resources to grab a few pages of the Bible in English. We have the complete canon of Scripture in English, and every other language under the sun, together with massive study resources, yet it is clear we have no equal to this humble Gloucestershire scholar whose resolve to give the nation the Word of God in their vernacular was to turn that world upside-down and cost him his life.
Read, reflect and count your blessings. Thank you Brian for an exceptional book!