Of Monuments and Translators: The Tyndale Monument
It is quite uncommon to come across a monument that honours a translator. Find out who William Tyndale was and why his work is still relevant nowadays.
William Tyndale was born circa 1490-94 in the Gloucestershire area. He gained his BA in Arts at Oxford University’s Magdalen Hall, presently known as Hertford College. In 1515 he obtained his MA in Arts again in his alma mater and was ordained priest in London.
A polyglot, theologian and scholar, Tyndale’s controversial views about the clergy set him apart from the rest of the priests at an early stage in his career forcing him to leave Gloucestershire and to move to London in 1523. This move inspired him to pursue his dream of translating the Bible into English since only the Latin version- known as Vulgate- was used in mass.
Tyndale strongly believed that people should be able to have access to religious texts in their native language. However, the 1408 Constitutions of Oxford prohibited any translations of the Bible to prevent the spread of Lutheranism. As a result of the rejection he faced by the Church not many clergymen were willing to help, but Sir Humphrey Monmouth -an English merchant- helped him financially to get started with the translation. Monmouth also helped him travel to Germany to complete it since it was proving difficult for Tyndale to stay in London without attracting the attention of the authorities.
In 1525, the first copies of the Tyndale Bible were printed in Cologne, Germany and it did not take long for Cardinal Wolsey to find out forcing Tyndale to flee to the city of Worms. Henry VIII's decision to divorce Catherine of Aragon brought the rupture with the Catholic Church and Cardinal Wolsey's execution as a traitor. Tyndale had no choice but to hide from Henry VIII who did not support his work. Soon after starting his translation of the Old Testament, William Tyndale was betrayed and sent to prison. He was accused of heresy and burned at the stake.
William Tyndale produced the first ever translation into English of the New Testament. Paradoxically, there are only three copies of the 3,000 copies that initially existed since his translation was considered heretical. Tyndale’s efforts paved the way to subsequent translations of the Bible into English, including King James Version and the Revised Standard Version. His story is a poignant example of how translation is more than just rendering words from one language to another.
Interested in visiting the monument?
The Tyndale Monument is located in North Nibley, Gloucestershire and was erected in 1866. It can be visited throughout the year and offers stunning views of the area including the Cotswold Way and the Severn River. Check out the following links for more information on how to get there and enjoy a lovely walk:
Read Melvyn Bragg’s book on William Tyndale.
Access The Tyndale Society for more information.
Mariana Roccia is a certified translator working between English and Spanish and specialising in law, business, and academia. She holds an MA in Linguistics and an MA in Environmental Humanities. Apart from working as a translator she is also involved in language research and regularly gives presentations in the field. She co-convenes the International Ecolinguistics Association, a network of over 1,200 researchers around the world, and is the co-editor of the book series Bloomsbury Advances in Ecolinguistics. She is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL), Member of the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) and Committee Member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreters’ Western Regional Group. Keep in touch with Mariana on LinkedIn, Facebook and Academia.edu.