Knowing the Story Behind the Historical Tyndale New Testament

William Tyndale was the first man to print the New Testament in English. The 1536 Tyndale New Testament was the most elaborate and last edition done before Tyndale died in October of the same year. This Bible has outstanding woodcut illustrations and a Gothic blackletter typeface that bears resemblance to calligraphy and evokes a medieval feel.

What Made Tyndale Print the New Testament in English?

Tyndale got educated at the University of Oxford and took up an instructor’s job at the University of Cambridge. While working there, he started meeting some humanist scholars at the White Horse Inn in 1521. Soon, Tyndale became convinced that the church’s doctrines and practices should be determined by the Bible alone and that all believers should be capable of reading the Bible in their own language.

This prompted him to start working on a New Testament translation in 1523. He translated directly from Greek. After England’s church authorities prevented him from continuing his translation as they wanted to be in charge of access to the scriptures and their interpretation, Tyndale fled to Germany in 1524. This became possible due to the financial support extended to him by the affluent London merchants.

The Tyndale New Testament was completed in July 1525, after which it went to print at Cologne. Again, city authorities pressured him, which forced Tyndale to move base to Worms, where he published two more editions in 1525. In 1526, the first copies of the Tyndale New Testament were smuggled into England, thanks to their small octavo format. However, they were forbidden immediately.

Several copies of the Tyndale New Testament were seized and burned, and those who owned them risked death by burning at the stake. Eventually, Tyndale was detained in Belgium and burned at the stake in 1536. But he continued living through his work.

Printing of the Tyndale New Testament opened the floodgates of new versions, and several English translation works that followed in the rest of the 16th and early 17th centuries were mostly based on Tyndale’s work. Today, just two known copies of the first edition of Tyndale New Testament exist.

Whether you are looking for the 1525 copy or the 1536 Tyndale New Testament, getting the originals could be pretty difficult and extremely costly. However, you can get hold of a facsimile of these Bibles by buying them from a reliable and reputed dealer of rare Bibles and their facsimile reproductions.

Wrapping Up

When buying a facsimile of the Tyndale New Testament, it would help to buy photographically enlarged reproductions. The ones that are almost 125% the size of the original can facilitate easy reading. You should also make sure the facsimiles are the authentic replica of the original Tyndale New Testament and feature multiple large woodcut illustrations.