“Imagine reading the Christmas story for the first time…” – W. Tyndale’s 1526 NT

tyndale-teems​”For the first time, England has a New Testament in its own English, translated from the original Greek. Into the stream of language and thought comes a fresh offering, wave after wave of new text, of stunning new shapes and linguistic forms. The great partition was brought down, and this new Bible would say different things to people about the God they only thought they knew.

“Imagine reading the Christmas story for the first time, or having it read to you in your own language, a story you vaguely knew something about, and now there are images and movement, and in a language you recognize as your own. The nuance, the subtle patterns and shifts, where it weeps, where it exults, where it groans, where it questions, where it commands.

“If the following text sounds familiar to our ears, it was startlingly new to theirs. The original spelling allows us a chance to read over someone’s shoulder, the way it came to them.

And Mary sayde. My soule magnifieth the Lorde. And my sprete [spirit] reioyseth in god my savioure For he hath loked on the povre [poor] degre of his honde mayde. Beholde now from hence forth shall all generacions call me blessed. For he that is myghty hath done to me greate thinges and holye is his name . . .

And she brought forth her fyrst begotten sonne and wrapped him in swadlynge cloothes and layed him in a manger because ther was no roume for them in the ynne. And ther were in the same region shepherdes abydinge in the felde and watching their flocke by nyght. And loo: the angell of ye [the] lorde stode harde by them and the brightnes of ye lorde shone rounde aboute them and they were soare afrayed. But the angell sayd vnto them: Be not afrayed. For beholde I bringe you tydinges of greate ioye yt shal come to all ye people: for vnto you is borne this daye in the cite [city] of David a saveoure which is Christ ye [the] lorde. And take this for a signe: ye shall fynde ye [the] chylde swadled and layed in a manger. (William Tyndale New Testament 1526, excerpt from Luke 2)

“Into the fluid rush and bubble of English life there is a new presence—fire-new phrases, easily accessible, memorable, buoyant, and more than anything, familiar. Each one seasoned with a folky Gloucestershire charm. Tyndale, for the first time in English history, gives God room to be God, and gives the Englishman room to imagine God in ways that have been denied him—and with a new English that fuses glory and simplicity.

Taken from David Teems’ Tyndale: the Man Who Gave God an English Voice (Thomas Nelson, 2012; Kindle ed., pp.59-60).

Published in: on December 9, 2017 at 9:21 PM  Leave a Comment