Truly Consecrated: A Real Man for all Seasons

Plaque outside an eponymous pub in North Norwich on the site of a Lollard’s Pit, “where men are customablie burnt” (source: http://tinyurl.com/k9nmttm).

By the time William Tyndale translated the New Testament into English for the first time in 1526 — on the run and in hiding, probably in Germany — translating the Bible into English or possessing an English translation of scripture had already been strictly prohibited for more than 100 years. Many people had burned in “Lollard’s pits”[1] since John Wycliffe had translated the New Testament into English in 1382 (and his “Lollard” followers had translated most of the Old Testament by 1384, the year of Wycliffe’s death).

The Resource Center for the Genevan Psalter, Psalm 15

Sculpted Head of William Tyndale from St Dunstan-in-the-West Church, London (source: http://tinyurl.com/ltnqb84).*

Sculpted Head of William Tyndale from St Dunstan-in-the-West Church, London (source: http://tinyurl.com/ltnqb84).*

Tyndale’s voluminous writings, penned while in exile from England and a fugitive from Hapsburg imperial justice at the insistence of both Henry VIII and the Catholic clergy both in England and on the European Continent, reveal that he was profoundly moved upon by the Spirit (in the Mormon lexicon) to apply his considerable intellect and talent with languages to the translation of the Bible into the vernacular English. As an ordained Catholic priest, Tyndale wished to replace the outdated and, by the early 1500s, already virtually unintelligible Wycliffe translation of 1382 (which had appeared before the invention of the printing press and mostly circulated in manuscript pages that were unreliable as to provenance) with his own English translation. Tyndale’s mission in life was no less perilous than Nephi’s own calling to return to Jerusalem after his family had already fled the city so that he could petition their relative Laban to surrender to Nephi’s family the “brass plates,” which we understand to have contained most of what is contained in our current Old Testament, up to approximately 600 B.C. (with the addition of a few other prophets’ writings that have apparently not survived, possibly because they were not ultimately included by the Deuteronomistic school in their compilation and redaction of the Hebrew Bible after the Babylonian captivity). But he fully consecrated his entire life to the work of translating the Bible into English for the express purpose of assisting devout Christians to know the Lord.

The translations and essays Tyndale produced throughout the course of his work demonstrate that God had revealed to him, like Nephi, that “it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records [in the vernacular], that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers; And also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time” (1 Nephi 3:19-20). The Church of Tyndale’s day, particularly in England since Wycliffe’s work, prohibited reading the scriptures in English, or even personally reading them at all. Tyndale’s drive to follow in Wycliffe’s footsteps, both as to the work of translation and as to many points of doctrine, placed him in grave danger from both Church and secular leaders at the time, in particular Sir Thomas More, a lay Catholic who had ascended to one of the most powerful posts in the realm advising Henry VIII — a monarch who, ironically, at the time considered himself a primary defender of the Catholic faith. Facing extreme danger and betrayal in England, Tyndale fled to the Continent where he frantically translated sacred text in hiding, disguised, under aliases, part Jason Bourne on the run, speaking every language, part Nephi returning to Jerusalem to preserve the scriptures.

Tyndale’s heroic work in first translating the New Testament while in hiding in Germany and Belgium (partially in 1525, full reprint in 1526, revised 1534), and then in learning Hebrew while on the run so that he could translate the Old Testament as well (completing the Pentateuch — the first five books of the Old Testament, from Genesis through Deuteronomy — and Jonah, as well as selections from the Psalms) can be viewed as considerably more dangerous than Nephi’s. Nephi and his brothers faced Laban, “a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty” (1 Nephi 3:31). Tyndale faced the concerted efforts of both England and the Hapsburgs’ Holy Roman Empire to find and apprehend him as Sir Thomas More, England’s lay Chancellor at the time, and numerous other of Henry VIII’s agents, as well as the clergy and agents of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V on the Continent, tried their best to silence him. Evading their efforts, surviving shipwreck, and avoiding epidemics, he was miraculously able to translate the scriptures and write numerous theological tracts, some addressed directly to Sir Thomas More and others to Henry VIII.

* * *

Why was the Catholic Church in England under Henry VIII’s reign (and also on the Continent to varying degrees in different kingdoms) so opposed to vernacular translation of the scriptures? Historians and theologians have analyzed this complicated question for centuries. Suffice it to say that the Church knew that if people read the Bible for themselves in their own languages, they would be empowered to interpret the teachings of the Gospel for themselves and incorporate those teachings into their own lives directly, outside of the control of the Church. Thus, doctrinal implications played a major role — the Bible contains no direct mention of popes, prayers to saints, transubstantiation, pilgrimages, the sale of pardons and indulgences, auricular confession to priests, veneration of relics or the host, the infallibility of the clergy, or of many more of the doctrines, practices, traditions, and requirements that had accrued over centuries in the Church.

Political control was also a major issue. The kingdoms and principalities of Europe were Christian — there was no meaningful separation of Church and State. Rulers based their authority on the divine right of kings as buttressed by the Catholic Church. But this led to corruption of both politics and religion. Wycliffe’s followers, the Lollards, rejected the artifice of non-Biblical, Catholic teachings referred to above (among others not listed) after reading Wycliffe’s 1380s translations and influenced by his teachings. The monarchy and aristocracy viewed Wycliffe’s religious heresy not only as a sin against the Church, which buttressed their political authority, but as sedition after the concurrent peasants’ revolt.

In England’s 1381 peasants’ revolt, the real issue was the oppressive imposition of draconian poll and other secular taxes. But authorities (primarily the clergy) found the simultaneously growing Lollard movement a convenient scapegoat for the revolt because Wycliffe’s preaching, in addition to tearing down non-biblical dogmas and traditions, included hefty biblical rhetoric in defense of the poor and downtrodden and against the economic abuses they were suffering at the hands of both clergy and secular authorities. Wycliffe’s preaching, like Amulek’s, had thus provoked clergy and aristocracy alike; and as Amulek’s family and followers were burned alive together with their scriptures in Ammonihah, Wycliffe’s followers, the Lollards, were accused of heresy and burned at the stake together with their manuscript copies of Wycliffe’s translations in “Lollard pits” in the 1400s and early 1500s (Alma 14:8-17). Tyndale encountered Wycliffe’s teachings and translations as early as his Oxford school days in the early 1500s, and they inspired his life’s work, particularly from a doctrinal perspective.

By the early 1500s, the English clergy (or their proxies, like Sir Thomas More) were able to spin Lollard doctrinal disagreements as seditious so that the State would have a reason to petition foreign sovereigns to extradite back to England heretics, like Tyndale, who had fled into European exile from their native England. Under governing treaties at the time, heresy alone (though punishable by death within a sovereign’s own jurisdiction) was not an extraditable offense. (The heretics could still be burned in the foreign jurisdiction.) Sir Thomas More, in particular, made heretic hunting a priority of the realm, with Tyndale as the primary, expressed target.[2] The two even engaged in a lengthy written debate/dialogue over several years that could be enlightening reading, if the stakes weren’t so high — Tyndale’s life hung in the balance.

* * *

Sadly, many devout Mormons consider Sir Thomas More, and not the martyr William Tyndale, a “man for all seasons” and an admirable example of the principled stand of religious conscience against the secular demands of state power to abrogate belief. Only the accident of history that More was friends with Erasmus transforms Sir Thomas More, a murderous, evil man, into a mighty Abinadi preaching before King Noah (Mosiah17:5-20). It was the famed humanist Erasmus who described his “darling” More as “a man for all seasons”; this description has stuck and given us our romantic conception of More and his role based on his steadfastness in opposing Henry VIII’s divorce. The political machinations that had placed More in such proximity to Henry VIII with the authority as Chancellor were not enough to maintain the King’s favor in the face of his desired divorce. More would not transgress the Church’s absolute prohibition of divorce to endorse Henry VIII’s desire to divorce so that he could try for a male heir with another wife. So More was executed, and now even we Mormons romantically venerate him for this act, despite his malevolence in persecuting fellow Christians for their desire to read and possess the scriptures in their native English.

But Tyndale, not More, is the Abinadi to our Henry VIII. The lengthy “dialogue” between Tyndale and More, which anyone can read and evaluate for themselves today, shows that Tyndale is the good guy. More seems to relish the thought of burning heretics at the stake to show off his loyalty to the Church. Tyndale also vehemently opposed Henry VIII’s divorce, and this opposition also got him killed. And this was in the face of the political reality that Henry VIII had reached out to Tyndale through his agents to offer him secure passage back to England after Tyndale had written a tract about the primacy of the King over the Pope, the State over the Church in secular government, which had understandably greatly pleased the king. All Tyndale had to do was slip in a brief apologia in favor of the divorce (which could have been supported by the Old Testament). Instead, Tyndale simultaneously wrote that the king should remain married, based on the Bible, because Catherine had not in any way offended against him and therefore there were no biblical grounds for the divorce.

More’s fanatical campaign of heretic hunting ultimately snared Tyndale (through the capture of numerous associates of Tyndale in England and information obtained from them under torture or the stocks or the dungeon). Had Tyndale, the prototypical Protestant in the Lutheran mold, simply condoned the divorce (as one would think a Protestant would), he likely would have been given safe passage from hiding in the Low Countries back to England and likely could have even been taken up at court, through the influence of Ann Boleyn, who was sympathetic to Tyndale and the “bible men,” i.e., the Protestants. And yet, More, with his campaign against fellow Christians reading the Bible in English and his torture and burning of those fellow Christians, is our “Man for All Seasons” revered by many in our Church today, rather than Tyndale whose name and labor to bring God’s Word to light for the people is hardly known or acknowledged. (Tyndale has, however, been invoked several times in General Conference, which increases the curiosity of why he remains in the shadows and his persecutor, More, often stands in the limelight.)

Tyndale is in good company. Sir Thomas More, the English Archbishop Tunstall, and the rest of the clergy in England, and all clergy on the Continent, including and especially the Pope, would surely have also burned Joseph Smith and any and all people who followed him at the stake together with Tyndale. Luther was not a martyr in his translation work and preaching against the false traditions that had accumulated in the late medieval Church. Tyndale and many others, however, were martyrs. Their work in bringing the Word of God to the people in their own languages was monumental and entailed the sacrifice of everything followed by a horrendous death based on their conscience of what was right and wrong about the dogmas of the Church in their time. We owe a lot to them. Joseph Smith read James 1:5 in King James English because of them. (Also, their history, actions, and teachings are important and valuable in their own right, independent of the degree to which Joseph Smith knew about, agreed with, or endorsed them or not.)

As Mormons, our history merges with the general history of Christianity before 1820. Do we not realize this? Tyndale is as much ours as he is any other Christian’s.

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MLP

MLP

Mormon Lectionary Project

The Feast of William Tyndale, Priest, 1536

2 Kings 22:11-20 (NRSV), Psalm 15 (NRSV), John 12:44-50 (KJV), James 1:21-25 (KJV), 1 Nephi 3:19-20, Mosiah 17:5-20, Alma 14:8-17

The Collect: Heavenly Father, we thank thee for inspiring William Tyndale to translate the Bible into English so that our foreparents could read the scriptures in their native tongue and endowing him from on High with the gift of powerful and graceful expression and with strength to persevere against all obstacles, and we ask thee to reveal thy saving Word to us through our study of these Scriptures as we read and hear them calling us to repentance and life through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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* Tyndale’s lifelong dedication to the task of translating the Bible into more coherent and modern English than Wycliffe’s problematic translation made him a fugitive, banished from England and constantly on the run in Continental Europe. He was never painted during his lifetime — the famous mid-sixteenth century portrait of him hanging in the Dining Hall of Hertford College, Oxford is entirely an artist’s conception of what he might have looked like.

† Note that date for the feast of William Tyndale is October 6, which is the traditional date of his commemoration, though it appears he was likely executed a few weeks earlier in 1536 at Vilvoorde castle in Brussels.

[1] “Lollard” was the term that became descriptive of pious knights and farmers who were persuaded by the views of John Wycliffe beginning in the 1360s and extending into the 1530s (one of the last Lollards to burn was Thomas Harding in 1532, though many others were still to be burned at the stake under different labels of heresy). Wycliffe was an Oxford-educated Catholic priest who was critical of the Church’s views at the time of clericalism and opposition to vernacular and personal study of the Bible.

Somewhat irreverent sign bearing the name of the pub now at the site of one Lollard's Pit (source: http://tinyurl.com/koqzcly).

Somewhat irreverent sign bearing the name of the pub now at the site of one Lollard’s Pit (source: http://tinyurl.com/koqzcly).

Lollards were proto-Protestants in every sense of the word — following Wycliffe they questioned the literal presence of the flesh and blood of Christ in the Eucharist (a unifying criticism among most later Protestant movements as well), opposed corruption and greed in the clergy, and they disputed papal or clerical authority over secular powers. This last point was very important to Wycliffe who used the contemporary two-pope scandal — the election of Urban VI under duress of mob violence in Rome and the subsequent election of Clement VII, by the same cardinals who had participated in the election of Urban VI, as a response, both following the death of Pope Gregory XI who had denounced Wycliffe’s teachings and demanded (fruitlessly, at the time) that he be banned from Oxford and imprisoned — to “prove” his suggestion that the office of Pope was inimical to the Gospel found in the Bible. They also circulated hand-copied manuscripts — sometimes only a few pages or verses — of Wycliffe’s relatively crude English translation, primarily of the Gospels.

The Lollard movement came to be viewed as subversive to the government and not just the Church when “[a] peasant’s revolt broke out in May 1381, sparked off by the imposition of a poll tax, but blamed in part on Wycliffe’s radical preaching and his championship of the poor” (Brian Moynahan, Book of Fire: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Bloody Birth of the English Bible (London, Abacus: 2010), p. xvii). Wycliffe was declared a heretic and banished from Oxford at the insistence of William Courtenay, Archbishop of Canterbury, at the Blackfriars Council of May 17, 1382; much later, in 1428, his body was exhumed and he was symbolically defrocked from the priesthood and posthumously burned at the stake. In 1408, Thomas Arundel, Courtenay’s successor as Archbishop of Canterbury, had ordered that all of Wycliffe’s works be burned, declaring that Wycliffe was the “son of the Serpent, herald and child of Antichrist” who had “filled up the measure of his malice” by preparing “a new translation of Scripture into the mother tongue” (Ibid. xxiiii). Lollards, as his followers, were to meet the same fate if they were caught discussing Lollard teachings or in possession of hand-copied manuscript pages of Wycliffe’s translation. “‘Lollard Pits’ were assigned as the places where they were to be burnt” (Ibid. xxv).

[2] The Church was able to convince secular government in many jurisdictions that Protestant heresy amounted to treason/sedition after Germany’s Peasant War in the 1520s. Martin Luther condemned the uprising of the peasants and their leaders (though he also had plenty of criticism for the aristocracy who viciously slaughtered as many as 300,000 peasants in the conflict). Sir Thomas More had an easier time maneuvering the hunt for and extradition of Tyndale who was in exile in Europe, because he now (post 1525) had a basis to argue to the secular authorities in the Low Countries that he was in sedition and not just a heretic.

Comments

  1. Powerful, and an interesting discussion re: More. Surely he is not without redemption. But he was no hero.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Fascinating. I learned details about all of this that I never knew before. Thanks so much for posting this.

  3. I think we need tread carefully when thinking about _why_ the church was opposed to vernacular translations. There were certainly various reasons, but how would the present-day LDS Church react to someone doing their own unauthorized translation of the Book of Mormon? We even get testy about other English-language translations of the Bible. Obviously I am not defending the terrible persecutions that resulted.

  4. We would be in the wrong as a Church if we were opposing people personally studying the scriptures in their own languages, just like the Catholic Church was morally wrong in taking that position at that time.

  5. Ah, go easy on us. At least he’s just a secular saint, “Sir” Thomas More, to us, not “Saint” Thomas More, as he is to our Catholic friends.

  6. The Other Clark says:

    I find myself agreeing with Steve Evans completely. Weird

  7. Dr_Doctorstein says:

    Wow–great post. I learned a lot. (Before reading this, my understanding of More came from Development of Civ class, ca. 1984, my reading of Utopia, and, of course, the 1966 film.)

  8. Of course, you give the reason for our rose-colored glasses adulation of Thomas More in the title of your essay. If you want Tyndale to receive our the honor he deserves, perhaps you need to write “A Man For All Seasons – Episode I.” Make sure it’s a successful Broadway play and Oscar – winning movie too. I’d settle for a single Tony and a pair of Oscars.

  9. N. W. Clerk says:

    Tyndale: “[W]hen the kingdom of antichrist was so enlarged that it must have a head, they set up our holy father of Rome.” If Tyndale was the best thing before sliced bread, then someone owes Elder McConkie an apology.

  10. N. W. Clerk says:

    Tyndale again: “For his mischief, [Thomas Becket] died a mischievous death.” Almost sounds like an endorsement of murder.

  11. I’ve been waiting a long time for this post. Thank you, my friend.

    N. W. Clerk: yes, you’re right that McConkie trafficked in anti-Catholic rhetoric derived from the Protestant tradition in whose founding Tyndale had a part. The Lectionary project, though, is about honoring the good people have done. With any of us, that is necessarily a subset of our total words and actions. For that matter, it’s probably rare when even individual thoughts or actions are unambiguously good. So we do the best we can–and I hope nobody could accuse the MLP of being anti-Catholic on the whole. (If so, we’ll seek absolution the next time we attend mass, as we’re wont to do from time to time–that, or put those indulgences gained on pilgrimage to good use.)

  12. Without a sense of history, we cannot begin to appreciate—or understand—the extraordinary nature of our religious freedoms.

    From the time the first cities were formed about 6,500 years ago until the end of the 18th Century, governmental and ecclesiastical authority were joined at the hip in virtually every corner of the world. This gave the church the power to enforce its orthodoxy with the point of the sword. Even those few instances in the Book of Mormon where we are told that people were allowed to believe as they choose ring hollow when we discover that such tolerance was extended only so long as the heretics kept their mouths shut.

    The temptation to commingle police powers with the dominant religious orthodoxy is seemingly irresistible. Witness the theocracy in 19th Century Utah and the resurgence in many parts of the world of forced compliance with religious law.

    Throughout history, the Thomas Mores of the world have been the rule, the William Tyndales the exception. He truly was a rare bird. A bit crazy, perhaps. But God bless him.

    Nice post John F.

  13. Thank you for taking the time to write this illuminating post.

  14. Excellent post, and I agree that Tyndale deserves our thanks. I am curious, though, about the assertions that “Sadly, many devout Mormons consider Sir Thomas More, and not the martyr William Tyndale … an admirable example,” that “We Mormons romantically venerate [More],” and that “More … is … revered by many in our Church today, rather than Tyndale [who] remains in the shadows [while] his persecutor, More, often stands in the limelight.” Is this true? These statements stood out to me because they don’t reflect the message I have picked up as a (30-year-old) Church member.

    I did a quick search through general conference archives and found but two references to Thomas More, a 1978 Elder McConkie talk that mentions him in passing and a 2000 Elder Maxwell talk that focuses on More’s friend Robert Bolt. William Tyndale, by contrast, is described in a 1975 talk by President Monson (who describes him as “heroic”), a 1999 talk by President Hinckley (a “[man] of great courage”), a 2000 talk by Elder Dickson (a “great reformer[]”), a 2005 talk by Elder Hales (“enlightened by the Spirit of God”), a 2005 talk by President Packer (“terribly persecuted”), 2007 talk by Elder Ballard (“courageous”), 2010 talk by Elder Christofferson (“a devoted student of the Bible … who sacrificed even to the point of death”), and a 2011 talk by President Packer (“a great hero”). Several of these talks describe Tyndale’s life in great detail.

    If you search beyond general conference, references to Thomas More do increase, but only by some half-dozen references and almost all of them seem to be based on the portrayal in Robert Bolt’s play, i.e., one could argue these are presentations of a literary, not a historical figure (although I don’t know if the writers were conscious of that difference). There’s even a negative reference in an Ensign article that describes his attacks on Bible translators. Searching outside of general conference brings up even more references to Tyndale, including summaries of his life in Preach My Gospel, the latest New Testament Institute manual, and several articles/speeches that appeared in connection with the 400th anniversary of the KJV in 2011.

    All that considered, I do agree that there are cases in LDS literature that perhaps unduly reverence Thomas More (most recently a Feb. 2013 Ensign article by Tad R. Callister) but I think the references to Tyndale are both more frequent and more substantial, in that they often deal with many aspects of his life rather than More’s single decision not to support Henry VIII’s divorce.

  15. Which simply shows that the popular reputation of Thomas More–at least for people of your parents’ generation, JMS, is based on the movie, “A Man for all Seasons.” (How many people, after all, made it to London or New York to see the stage play?) But the movie was a big hit, won six Academy Awards (including for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director), and formed U.S. (and Mormon) attitudes towards More–at least for those of us alive in the 1960s. By contrast, nobody remembers the references to More and Tyndale in General Conference or the Ensign.

  16. For what it’s worth, I don’t remember ever hearing Thomas More praised by anyone, GA or otherwise. I’ve heard of “A Man for All Seasons,” but I’ve never seen it (I was born in 1971, though). I do remember several Conference talks about William Tyndale, however. I even included him (and numerous others not including Thomas More) in an activity we did when I was in a YW presidency about the history behind the restoration of the gospel and church, so at least eight or nine high school-aged LDS girls have heard of him too and know a little bit about what he stood for and did.

  17. It is rich to see Jason K. write about “honoring the good people have done. With any of us, that is necessarily a subset of our total words and actions” in response to an OP that honors one subset of Tyndale’s actions while ignoring another and at the same time denigrating a subset of More’s actions while emphasizing another.

    N.W. Clerk’s comments highlight the fact that as Mormons we tend to venerate the reformers (see JMS’s examples), while ignoring the fact that most of them were just as intolerant of dissenting ideas as their Catholic adversaries and Protestants didn’t hesitate to use the state and sword to enforce their beliefs when they were in power. Certainly the reformers were essential to the development of religious liberty, but they have a lot of baggage (including theologically).

  18. Again the English opposition to the vernacular Bible was unusual. All other Catholic nations had vernacular Bibles before the English. The vernacular Bible was seen as a sign of Lollardry and Lollards were seen as insurrectionists because of Oldcastle’s Revolt in in 1413.

    And the Protestants linked the church to the state even more strongly than the Catholics did (and were against religious toleration.)

    If you want to read a really cool book, read Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, Books under Suspicion: Censorship and Tolerance of Revelatory Writing in Late Medieval England. (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006) It really slams on Wycliffe and the Lollards though (who were totally against continuing revelation).

  19. Fair enough, ktbnyc. I suppose that knowing about More’s fondness for torturing Protestants made the film especially unpalatable to me when I rewatched it a while back. I’m willing to admit, though, that even he was not without redeeming qualities. And believe me, I get that religious toleration did not spring forth in 1517 like Athena from Zeus’s head, and that even such toleration as did eventually emerge in England in 1689 explicitly omitted Catholics while only sort of including Dissenters.

  20. ktbnyc, as I said in response to a similar comment on my Luther post:

    I agree that [Tyndale] was not advocating religious freedom, except that he was advocating that Christians were free through Christ from the bondage of the artifice of traditions and requirements (such as the sale of pardons and indulgences, etc.) that amounted to the dead works of the late medieval Church.

    Luckily, the Reformation was followed by the Scottish and English Enlightenments (themselves followed by the European Enlightenment), which ultimately left us with a legacy of Toleration of which we as a small and widely disliked religion are the primary beneficiaries . . . . I believe that [Tyndale’s] work set us down the road toward an eventual position of Toleration.

    I would add that, unfortunately, religion wasn’t able to give us Toleration — it took a robust secular public sphere to do that.

  21. The Other Clark says:

    I’m waiting for someone to point out that More is justifiably the Mormon protagonist be cause he believed in “honoring, obeying, and sustaining the law” and all that.

  22. Stephen Fleming: “Again the English opposition to the vernacular Bible was unusual. All other Catholic nations had vernacular Bibles before the English.”
    This isn’t quite right. There were translations of the Bible into the vernacular in Anglo-Saxon England, and widely circulated translations of all or portions in Anglo-Norman (the language of literature in England into the early 14th century) and Middle English. The crackdown came in England in the 14th century. There were similar crackdowns across Europe, many during the 13th century, as heresies arose, and as the Catholic Church centralized its power and sought to standardize doctrine and practice. The degree to which prohibitions against vernacular translation actually had any effect is, of course, debatable–for England and the continent, as Kerby-Fulton’s work demonstrates.

  23. ALS, i guess I meant translations for that era (late middle ages) and the degree to which the English crown took prohibitions against vernacular translation was unusual.

    There were those who advocated religious freedom at that time. Anabaptists and other radicals in the 1500s. The Baptists Thomas Helwys was the first to advocate such in English in the early 1600s and Baptist Rhode Island and Quaker Pennsylvania set up colonies with broad religious toleration. Ironically, Thomas More advocate such in Utopia (which was written in Latin). So it wasn’t like the Protestants had no other choice than to limit religious freedom (though religious freedom was considered a very radical idea).

  24. Laurel Lee Pedersen says:

    I enjoyed the PBS series on Thomas More last winter. It clarified the actions of More and his political “dances” to keep favor with Henry VIII, Ann Bolyne, etc., which ultimately ended in his death. But, it didn’t mention his hunt of Tyndale, and I appreciate so much what we learned from this article.