Tush Ye Shall Not Die

John Bossy

  • William Tyndale: A Biography by David Daniell
    Yale, 429 pp, £19.95, September 1994, ISBN 0 300 06132 3
  • The Renaissance Bible: Scholarship, Sacrifice and Subjectivity by Debora Kuller Shuger
    California, 297 pp, £32.00, December 1994, ISBN 0 520 08480 2

There must be an ecumenical spirit at work at Yale University Press for, having just given us Eamon Duffy’s masterly and devoted evocation of English Christianity before the Reformation, The Stripping of the Altars, they have now made things even with David Daniell’s William Tyndale. Tyndale’s life is soon told. He was born, probably in 1494, of a landowning and entrepreneurial family in that part of Gloucestershire where the Cotswolds meet the Severn, since then the home of Evelyn Waugh (temporarily: the ghost of Tyndale got the better of him), of a bird sanctuary and a power station. Then it was most famous for the cloth trade, which gave Tyndale plenty of support during his life. He went to Oxford, where he discovered Erasmus, and perhaps to Cambridge as well. Around 1523 he left Gloucestershire for London, and tried to persuade the learned Bishop of London, Cuthbert Tunstall, to let him translate Erasmus’s New Testament into English. When Tunstall turned him down, he went abroad to the Netherlands and Germany, where he published his translation, now of a Lutheran stamp, in 1526.

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