For several months I've been looking through my books to find a particular book my son, Michael, gave to me in 2000. It is called 'Jesus Freaks' by DC Talk. It is a continuation of the 'Foxes Book of Martyrs'. I find the stories compelling and humbling.
In this morning's reading I read about William Tyndale circa 1536. He was a biblical scholar. In England and many other places the Scriptures were not allowed to be translated into English. It was against the law to do so. The authorities believed the Bible should read only in Greek or Latin. Those not acquainted with Greek or Latin were at the mercy of those who knew those languages to tell them what the Bible said.
Tyndale believed the Bible should be available and understandable to the common man because some of the things told to them were in error of what was really in the Scriptures.
In 1519 seven Christians were burned at the stake in England for teaching their children the Lord's prayer and the ten commandments!
Tyndale set out to translate the New Testament into English, defying the Pope. He hid in Germany to get the job done. Spies found him in Germany so he fled to Belgium where he printed thousands of his New Testaments.
They were hidden in bales of cotton and containers of wheat and shipped to England. They were bought by ordinary people who sat up all night reading God's Word for themselves. When the Bishop of London discovered this, he bought as many as he could on the black market and paid full price. The merchant gave the money to Tyndale which made it possible for the printing of three times as many New Testaments!
In ten years the New Testaments were distributed throughout England. People caught with one were put in prison. Thousands of people were jailed. Meanwhile, Tyndale worked on translating the Old Testament. With the help of Miles Coverdale, he was able to complete a portion of the Old Testament after he was arrested and put into prison.
October 1536, he was strangled and burned. His last words were, "Lord, open the King of England's eyes!" Within 3 years the King of England gave instructions that a copy of the 'Great Bible' completed by Tyndale's co-work, Coverdale, be placed in every church in England.
75 years later the King James Bible was published with much of Tyndale's translation intact. (90% of the words remain exactly as he wrote them.)
I am so grateful for the lives sacrificed for this! How many times have I picked up my Bible and not known the blood that went into it. God forgive me!