Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tyndale: The Man Who Gave God an English Voice

By David Teems

I found this book to be awe-inspiring! It makes me want to live my life more courageously as a Christian. Even though sections of the book were quite difficult for me to get through in terms of readability, I learned so much about this incredible saint of the church. Because of his drive to translate the Bible into the English language, he lived in a continual state of being hunted, hated, exiled, and deprived of comforts. As the author puts it, "His life was reduced to a kind of living martyrdom." As a homeschooling mom, born-again Christian, and a student of the Bible for the past 34 years, I have read about, and taught my children about, the bravery of William Tyndale. Yet, it has been mainly his translation of Scripture and his martyr's death that I have known about. His life, choices, and bravery are presented in such a way as to make the reader feel they really know and understand William Tyndale and the pressures and persecution he lived under. God had so wonderfully prepared and placed this man to do this work. He was an English speaking scholar of Latin and Hebrew in the Medieval years, an oddity in itself.

In addition to giving the King James Bible much of the lyrical beauty that makes it so easy to memorize, William Tyndale also had an incredible impact on the English language in general. There are lists in the book of the incredible amount of words in our language to which we owe gratitude to Tyndale (including Godly, sanctified, chastening, zealous, and so many more). William Tyndale was a contemporary of William Shakespeare. A valid and thoughtful point that the author makes is that we (English speakers) speak much more 'Tyndale' than we do 'Shakespeare', and yet it is Shakespeare who is studied and credited as a great writer. I was brought to a deep awareness of my great debt to William Tyndale for spending his life making the Holy Scriptures accessible to me. The author does an excellent job of describing the medieval times and the fear that was used then to try to control the thoughts and actions of 'heretics' to the Catholic church.

The author has painted a very complete picture of the pressures put upon Christians in the Medieval era. We see Tyndale through the words of others who knew him, such as Desiderius Erasmus and Thomas More. The book contains exhaustive references to works of the time. One of the major detriments to me in reading this book was the use of the original texts in Old English. It is a very scholarly work. I have a master's degree in education. I am no stranger to scholarly texts. Having said that, let me confess that I lost my concentration in certain deeper segments of the book, since, as a wife and mother, my life is subject to frequent interruptions and demands on my thought processes! I had expected and hoped that this book would be more accessible to the average reader. Still, I think it is good that it is written at a more demanding level. The more distracted or casual reader will certainly come away much richer for having read it, and those with more concentration will take away even more.

The peace and resolve that Tyndale showed in the face of his imprisonment, sentencing, and death are awe-inspiring. I am so grateful to this man, and even more so when I read of the calm, kindness, and care for their salvation, that he showed to those who imprisoned him and forced him to suffer such hardships, cold, indignities, pain, and terrible death. His final words were: "Lord! Open the King of England's eyes."

No matter that some of the book is so deep that I will have to read it again to uncover more of the facts, I still have come away from this book better for having read it. I am much more knowledgeable about the path of peril that brave men took to bring me the King James Bible I read daily. It is rare that I finish a book, already having made the decision to read it again (and again), but that is how I feel about this book. There is much inspiration to be gained by studying the lives of the martyrs. This book on William Tyndale is a most excellent place to begin, or continue, to study.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

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