A hundred years or so after John Wycliffe stirred things up with his translation of the Bible into English, a young priest from he English countryside called William Tyndale picked up the baton translating the Bible into English which is much more modern, punchy and accessible to a modern audience than Wycliffe’s. The language had changed a lot, Luther had set a reforming cat among the established church’s pigeons and the printing press enabled his translation to spread far and wide. He was tracked down and murdered before he had finished his translation, but like many reformers he prayed for God to change the hearts of kings and within a few decades his translation was the basis of much of the best parts of the ‘King James’ official translation.
Here’s a fascinating interview with Ben Virgo and Melvyn Bragg who are both fans of Tyndale:
As we work in a substantially Christianised environment in parts of central Nigeria I’m often struck by the similarities there are between the situation in England in Tyndale’s time and Nigeria today. Church structures are often established – except in outlying areas – yet fear and superstition lurks close beneath the surface of church life, the language of church is far removed from the language of everyday life, and even church leaders are often in it just for the money and have a shocking ignorance of the Bible.
It was dangerous to translate the Bible, and it was a somewhat divisive move, but it did an immense good not just for the English-speaking churches but also for those they planted and influenced around the world.