Tyndale's New Testament

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Tyndale's New Testament

The Tyndale New Testament
Paper and leather binding
Printed in 1526
Re-bound 1890

Was this small but potent volume the most dangerous book in Tudor England ? Henry VIII thought it might be and tried to stop its translation and printing. In 1526 the publication of William Tyndale’s book opened up for the first time the whole of the New Testament in English and helped to bring continental Reformation ideals to the people of England. Tyndale wrote that the Church authorities banned translations of the Bible in order 'to keep the world still in darkness, to the intent they might sit in the consciences of the people, through vain superstition and false doctrine... and to exalt their own honour... above God himself’.
 
Inspired to get the Bible in to the hands of the people, Tyndale had to travel to Cologne to start printing, betrayed, he was forced to move on to Worms and from there copies were smuggled in to England. The Bishop of London, sent out a prohibition, burning copies in a  grand gesture at St Paul’s on 27 October 1526 and a Canon of the Cathedral was responsible for planning Tyndale’s eventual arrest in Antwerp.

Although Tyndale was executed the words in which he expressed the content of the New Testament live on. Roughly eighty percent of the King James New Testament used today is Tyndale’s work. The following phrases appear in print for the first time in Tyndale’s translation: ‘broken-hearted’; ‘eat drink and be merry’; ‘signs of the times’; ‘flowing with milk and honey’.
 
In spite of the efforts to hunt down and destroy the translation this copy survived in defiance of church and state and is one of only three left in existence. It entered the library collection in a bequest, the true significance of this volume, which helped change the literary, religious and political landscape for ever was only realised in the nineteenth century.
 
Further reading:
The New Testament 1526, William Tyndale, British Library Publishing 2000
William Tyndale: A Biography, David Daniell, Yale Nota Bene 2001
 
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