Today, the Church of England remembers Henry Martyn (1781-1812), a skilled Bible translator and missionary. And this coming Sunday (24th October) is known as Bible Sunday in the Church of England. To mark the occasion, I’ve recorded this talk on three of the most significant English reformers, who put the Bible and its translation at the heart of their vision for reforming the Church of England.
Many courageous men and women have given their lives trying to reform and renew the church in England; but the Bible itself is the engine of reformation. This was the case well before the Reformation began to show its face on the continent. A key person in this long attempt to reform the church by the word of God was John Wyclif (1330-1384), later to be known as “the morning star of the Reformation.” After him, no one did more to release the power of God’s word amongst English-speaking people than William Tyndale (1494-1536), the most influential translator of the Bible that England ever produced.
Neither Wyclif nor Tyndale ever achieved great status in the Church of England. Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), however, became Archbishop of Canterbury and was able to ensure that a Bible in the vernacular language was placed in every parish church in the country, preached by every minister, and prayed through daily.
The legacy of these bold reformers was that “God’s word written” drove the reformation of the church and pushed the gospel into the darkest corners of the land.
The talk is based on my recent chapter “The Engine of the English Reformation: Wyclif, Tyndale, Cranmer and the Word of God” in Βιβλικες Μετάφρασεις Ιστορία και Πράξη edited by Kostas G. Tsiknakes and Maria Schick (Athens: Hellenic Bible Society, 2021).