Saturday, 21 March 2015

Tyndale's New Testament

Wordsworth, the publishers, have reprinted many of the old "Classics of World Literature". Spiritual gems include Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress along with William Tyndale's New Testament. 

Tyndale was the Protestant who translated the Bible into English for the first time from the original languages. I mention him hereHis translation is carried over some 90% into our Authorised Version. 

It may be safely said, without any disrespect whatsoever, that our AV translators cleaned up parts of this older translation. They did well, for example, to remove the several references to Easter as they appear in the four gospel accounts. In Matthew 26:1 (Tyndale doesn't number his verses) he has Jesus telling the disciples, "Ye know that after two days shall be Easter..." While it is debatable whether the Greek word  paschal is properly translated as "Easter" in Acts 12 and our AV men retained Tyndale's translation, as indeed did the Geneva Bible translators also. They also cleaned up Tyndale's rendering of when the Apostle John was "in the spirit" while on the bleak Isle of Patmos in Revelation 1:10. Tyndale tells us that it was "on a Sunday" while the AV rightly render the Greek text as "the Lord's Day." It is pleasing to see that the AV men rendered Matthew 1:23 as "virgin" as did the Geneva men and those responsible for the Bishop's Bible. Tyndale rendered it as "maiden" which might leave room for doubt, although there are other indications, of course, within the text that indicate her virginal purity. Thankfully, Tyndale restores the word virgin in Luke 1:27 (x2) 

This edition includes the prologues which Tyndale wrote before the epistles which he translated. They are generally short - most are but a paragraph long or are contained in one page. However, Paul's epistle to the Romans drew 20 pages of comment from Tyndale's pen. It is here that we get a glimpse into his Calvinist heart.  He tells us that chapters 9-11 deal with the doctrine of "God's predestination" (so called because of its source) and how it relates to "whether we shall believe or not believe." This is about as far away from the "I get to decide with my casting vote" stuff as you can get.   

Some, though not all, of Tyndale's annotations are included in this Wordsworth edition - those included are considered the most relevant by the editor. His note in Ephesians 5 where reference is made by Paul to Christ sanctifying and cleansing the church with the washing of water by the word relate sit to baptism. I quote: "Baptist saveth through the word; that is, through faith in the word according to the covenant made in Christ." 

The editor has also seen fit to give us a brief historical insight into Tyndale's work and includes an introduction from "William Tyndale to the Reader" and then "William Tyndale, once more, to the Reader." 

The Wordsworth edition may be said to be a cheap, economy edition which is fine by me. It sits proudly on my bookshelf and is occasionally consulted out of interest. I see it as a vital component of our Protestant heritage.

weecalvin1509 (photograph)

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