Posts Tagged ‘bible translation’

Thank you William Tyndale!

October 31, 2017


Recently, as I took another of my reflective walks in the fields behind our home, I viewed in the distance a beautiful scene. Against the blue horizon of the sea two tractors were ploughing a field, while behind them was a great company of seagulls following them like a white cloud. My thoughts wondered back to a time when tractors didn’t exist and that ploughed field reminded me of the words of Tyndale… “I defy the pope and all his laws; if God spare my life, I shall cause the boy that driveth the plough to know more of the scripture than thou dost.” These justifiably angry words were spoken to a priest of the Roman Catholic Church – an institution which desired that the “common people” should be kept in darkness. I say “justifiably” because the priest in question had made a statement tantamount to the opinion that we are “better to go without God’s laws than the pope’s!”

Of course, when people are kept in darkness and ignorance, evil men retain their power – and ultimately their riches and standing in society. Today, as then, it is still the desire of the hierarchy in Roman Catholic circles to keep people from studying the scriptures and thereby coming to a realisation of the truth that this system of belief is contradicted by the Word of God.

In those volatile days it was illegal in England to translate any part of the Bible into English. In Norwich a young man, having been found with a mere piece of paper with the Lord’s Prayer in his native language, was burned alive. In this dangerous climate and having faced fierce opposition to his proposed translation of the New Testament into English, William Tyndale fled to Germany where it was possible to print his translation.

William Tyndale (1494-1536) was a learned Oxford scholar who had mastered eight languages – but more than this he had clearly found the Lord as Saviour and had a passion for the scriptures. I can only imagine how it must have felt for him, after the terrible opposition, to hold that first bound edition of the New Testament in his hand. Printing was a laborious task in those days and previously he was only nearing the end of St. Matthew’s gospel when the print shop was raided by those in opposition to Martin Luther at the time. However, he and a colleague escaped with their precious manuscripts up the Rhine to Worms where he lived life as a fugitive. Copies of his New Testament were eventually smuggled down the Rhine to the English and Scottish seaports where they were hungrily received by Christians. A great number of his New Testaments, however, were apprehended at one point and destroyed in a bonfire outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

It was in Worms (a centre of rabbinic learning) that Tyndale learned Hebrew and started his translation of the Old Testament into English. King Henry VIII at one point decided that Tyndale, it appeared, was a man of influence, who would be better to live under his jurisdiction… and therefore his control. He sent someone to look for Tyndale but he was angered by Tyndale’s response to him on personal matters and this never transpired. Eventually, having been betrayed by a “friend,” William ended up in a cold dark dungeon, in an old castle in Leuven where he suffered much persecution from Roman Catholic priests who tried to get him to confess to his “heresy.”

However, the jailer and his daughter in this place respected William Tyndale and were impressed by this scholar who could converse with them in their native Flemish language. They grew fond of him, listened to his witness and were wonderfully converted as a result, a story which is recounted in the Foxes Book of Martyrs.

In October 1536 William Tyndale was taken from the dungeon, strangled first and then set alight in a public burning. With his last breath he offered up a prayer – not for himself, but for that of his own country and that the “King’s eyes would be opened.” That prayer (unknown to William) had already been answered, for King Henry VIII had approved of a new English Bible by Miles Coverdale, Tyndale’s friend. Little did the king realise that Coverdale’s Bible was nearly 70% of Tyndale’s work. Later, in 1604 James 1 approved a new translation of the Bible into English. What a wonderful answer to Tyndale’s prayer before his martyrdom… for his work became the basis of 90% of our beloved King James Version!

By his courage and obedience to the last, William Tyndale had started a fire which would flame and spread in his native England and further afield. I thank William Tyndale for his legacy to us all: the scripture in English, written with a clarity which even common people like me (and the men who plough the fields!) can readily understand. And we can understand it with a depth (which has nothing to do with education) when we have made the Master of William Tyndale – our Master.

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119v105) “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119v11)

I am beyond grateful for this great volume that I hold in my hands – I have grown to love it more and more through the ups and downs of life, as I walk by faith each step of the way.

How marvellous, having first met our Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, when we get to heaven, to meet loved ones and then souls like William Tyndale and others who forged the way, in His strength, to put the Bible into our hands. Let us never forget that the English Bible was made with blood!

The Bible is Still the World’s Best Seller!

April 23, 2012

As tonight, 23rd April 2012, is World Book Night, I have been reflecting on the issue of education (as well as that of women’s education) throughout the world and have also been thinking about the different attitudes towards it in societies everywhere. I would like to know what justification there can be for recent vicious attacks against young girls who are trying to go to school in Afghanistan. Is it a matter of culture and tradition or do those who perpetrate such deeds find justification for what they do in their religious writings?

Young girls have been poisoned, gassed, mutilated… all because of their natural desire to have a basic education.

I was dismayed by the following true story from Afghanistan…

One morning as two young sisters in Kandahar were going to school a man pulled up alongside them on a motorbike and asked: “Are you going to school?”

When he learned that they were, he pulled one of their burqas off and sprayed the little girl with burning acid. This horrific attack has left her scarred for life and nowadays her vision is blurred, making it difficult for her to read.

How I wish that these young girls could attend school on a regular basis without constantly living in fear of such attacks or even of being murdered. Sadly it is a fact that my experience of school many years ago was so encouraging and positive when compared with girls in Afghanistan today.

One of my first memories when I started school was of being seated at a desk one morning and of the teacher coming along shaking a large box of letters from the alphabet. “See how many words you can make out of these letters,” she said. And so, in time the words became sentences and those sentences became paragraphs and the paragraphs were joined to tell a story; I have to say that this activity has stuck in my memory over the years because I found it so enjoyable.

Soon I came to find the art of reading enjoyable too. My family would travel to Smithfield Markets in Belfast where we picked up armfuls of books at just a few pence each and upon our return home I would be engrossed in reading them, often to the neglect of everything else!

What a privilege it is to be able to read – but what an enormous privilege it is to be able to read God’s Holy Word, the Bible. Somehow when I came to know Jesus as Saviour, all other books (while some of them were interesting and even spiritually helpful) paled into insignificance when compared with my daily companion – the Bible.

In this tremendous volume I found all the instructions I needed to live this life to the full and the joy of the assurance that my sins were forgiven; I was taught to respect and love my fellowmen and women; I found comfort, solace and direction; amazing stories which gave me courage and poetry that inspired me. But above all I discovered that the Author loved me personally and wanted to share His riches with me forever.

It has been estimated that world sales of the Bible are currently more than a hundred million every year and yet I feel that most people in the world have still never read the Bible through even once; sadly this also applies to those who have made a profession of having trusted the Saviour.

I remember finding conviction in the words of the Bible before becoming a Christian and I believe that those who sincerely want to find truth will be spoken to. I also believe that the best place to start reading is in the New Testament – and then the Old Testament.

My prayer is that the Bible will be translated into every dialect and language of the world and that men, women and children throughout the world will be given the opportunity to discover within its pages the remedy for sin and the recipe for happiness.

“Search the scriptures,” Jesus tells us in John 5v39, “for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

Jesus loves you, He died for you and He rose again in triumph for you – over sin and death and hell, if you will only repent and trust Him with your life, your all. I pray that you will read His beautiful story today, if you have not already done so.  

Beautiful Free Bookmarks with John 3 Verse 16 in many Languages of the World

April 18, 2012

It has been estimated that there are at least 6909 living languages in the world today – how amazing! I am uncertain about whether the Bible has been even partially translated into most of these but surely one verse which the souls of the world must hear is the lovely John 3v16… “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Originally I used to make bookmarks as a little complimentary gift to go with my books but in recent years I have felt fulfilment in making and distributing colourful bookmarks with John 3v16 depicted on them in different languages too. Translations of John 3v16 in many languages of the world can be downloaded, printed and then pasted to colourful card or old gardening magazines. I cut these into bookmark form, laminate them and then hand them out as free gifts to those I meet on my travels.

Two years ago my bookmarks were almost confiscated by airport security, supposedly because laminated articles are sharp and can be used as weapons! After that incident I decided that the best place for them was to be safely stored in luggage that goes in the hold. So far I have made and distributed bookmarks in Greek, Albanian, Chinese (Mandarin), Polish, Irish – and English of course. Just recently I was speaking to a missionary friend who will be travelling back to her work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, so I have decided to send her some gift bookmarks with John 3v16 in Swahili, which is the main language there. (However, I have now discovered that there is more than one dialect in Swahili!)

It is interesting also to note that there are many languages in the world which are only spoken – but have never been written. How faithful we need to be in our prayer for those who have never heard! Surely the Lord can reach into hearts with His convicting Spirit, whether on remote mountains, or in equatorial forests or in crowded city slums, so that souls for whom Jesus died would know the cure for the sin which all of mankind has inherited?

Here in the Republic of Ireland we have had an influx of people from many nations of the world in recent years. I have the opportunity to give bookmarks to Chinese people in their restaurants and to the many people from Eastern European countries, such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and even Russia, although many of these speak English anyway. I feel led to reach people from Muslim backgrounds too, although their religion forbids them to accept any other system of belief. However, as regards the recently handmade bookmarks in Arabic in my possession, I feel certain that the Lord will provide an outlet for these.

I am fascinated by languages with their different lettering systems and also the fact that even one small country can have multiple dialects. Sometimes when my personal concerns rush in to crush me, I remind myself of that vast world out there and its billions of souls for whom the Lord laid down His life. You and I, as individuals, are seemingly so insignificant in the midst of it all – but He knows each one of us intimately; even to the point where each of the hairs on our head is numbered! (Luke 12v7)

“For God so loved the world, (Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Bulgarian, Arabic, Armenian, Russian, Haitian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Greek, Irish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean (north and south), Maori, Portuguese, Romanian, Punjabi, Swahili, Sakata….) that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”