Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Tyndale Bible and the Reformation in Tudor England

Europe was in the throes of the Reformation. Martin Luther had published his 95 theses. Common people were looking avidly for more information on what it meant to be a Christian. The Bible was not accessible to the common man. Tyndale felt the challenge. He wanted a Bible that the plowboy could read and began the translation of the Greek New Testament into English. There were many clerical abuses and Tyndale, like other reformers, felt that people should be able to judge the quality of their religious experience and decide by reading the Bible, whether the tenets proposed by the clergy were the based on the will of God, or on the desires of a debased clergy.

This was the era of Henry VIII. His queen, Catherine, was a staunch Catholic, but the love of his life, Anne Boelyn, leaned toward the Reformation. Caught in the religious struggle and with his desire for a son, he came down on the side of the Reformation. Ultimately, he separated the English church from Rome. I found the historical perspective of Tyndale's translation fascinating. Teems has written a book that not only gives us a clear picture of Tyndale's struggles, but of his era peopled with Sir Thomas Moore, Cardinal Wolsey, and numerous other larger than life characters.

I highly recommend this book not only for people who wish to understand the history of the English Bible, but for those who are interested in the Tudor period. The Teems book is scholarly, but it's also easy to read and draws you into Tyndale's story.

I reviewed this book as part of the Thomas Nelson Book Sneeze Program.