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John Kespert
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He Helped Us Be Able To Read The Bible

Published on 4/6/2016
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He Helped Us Be Able to Read the Bible


     There are many who tell us things they claim are what the Bible teaches. But are they truthful in what they say? Thankfully we are able to go check out what they say to see if indeed it lines up with what is actually in Scripture. However, being able to do so was not always the case, even when more people were learning how to read. Unless a person could read Hebrew, Greek, or at least the Latin translation, then they couldn't read the Bible for themselves.

     Even after there were translations of the Bible into other languages in Europe, there still wasn't an English translation. It wasn't against the law to translate the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament into English, but it was required that to do so, first official permission had to be obtained before anyone could do the translation. And, for a very long time, none of the church leaders in England would give that permission.

     William Tyndale was a brilliant scholar who very much wanted to make the Bible available in English for all the people of Great Britain, just as Martin Luther had made a German translation available for those in Germany. Tyndale was exceedingly qualified, since he was a profound linguist, fluent in French, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, Spanish, and Italian. He had hoped that a certain Bishop, Cuthbert Tunstall, would be sympathetic to his cause, but Tunstall never granted him permission. But when it became abundantly clear to Tyndale that he would never be authorized to do the work in England, he left for the continent of Europe in 1524 to further his translating of Scripture from the original languages into English.

     In 1525 Tyndale completed his translation of the Greek New Testament, and in 1526 the printing and distribution of it was begun. Since the New Testaments couldn't be transported into England openly, they had to be smuggled inside other cargo. A great many of Tyndale's countrymen were delighted to be able for the first time to read the New Testament for themselves. But the powerful church leaders were greatly upset. In October of that year, Bishop Tunstall condemned it and had copies of it burned in public. He warned booksellers not to sell it. Then, in 1529, Cardinal Wolsey condemned Tyndale as a heretic.

     William Tyndale was definitely on the “most wanted” list of the church leaders in England for several years, and in 1535 a man, who had pretended to be interested in his work, turned him over to the authorities. He was imprisoned, and in 1536 Tyndale was tried for heresy, tied to a stake, strangled, and then burned. He gave his life because he wanted anybody, even a plow boy, to be able to know what is written in the Bible.

     Today we have access to the Bible in English and many other languages, both in print, and on our computers, tablets, and phones. But it's good to think back to those who worked so hard and even gave their lives so that ordinary people like you and me could read the Bible and learn what it actually says.

     There is a non-profit organization called Truth Remains that has managed to collect some first edition copies of early Bible translations, including a 1526 Tyndale New Testament. On April 8 and 9, 2016, they will bring some of those Bibles to the church my wife and I attend, First Baptist Church of Weymouth, Massachusetts. Truth Remains gives a presentation about the history of the English Bible, and they allow people to not only see the actual early editions of the Bible, but also to handle them. If you ever hear that the Truth Remains organization is giving a presentation in your area, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to hear their presentation and see the actual Bibles that people risked even lost their lives to make available to us.



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