Last year English speakers across the world marked the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. William Tyndale of Gloucestershire’s translation is one of the greatest works of English literature. Without it, the work of Shakespeare, Milton, Shelley, Dickens, Tennyson, TS Eliot, Henry James, Yeats, Iris Murdoch – the list is endless – would not exist. It also formed the basis of the Douai-Rheims and most authorised versions of the Bible since.
Tyndale’s translation was the first printed edition of the Bible, ensuring its distribution throughout Europe and thus helping to disseminate the ideas of the Reformation. Today I found a commemorative £2 coin minted last year that celebrates the printed word. If you look closely you’ll see the opening words of the Gospel of John on the right-hand side, and its printing plate, with the characters reversed, on the left.
Humanities staff at the University of Gloucestershire created a blog to reflect on Tyndale’s translation and how it shaped English language and culture. I hope you enjoy reading some of it here.