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MISTAKEN ARGUMENTS FROM AN ONLINE LUTHERAN
Regarding a William Tyndale Article, Jas Sagala writes,
“The delusionist and narcissist priest who wanted a name for himself by adulterating the Bible. His translation was infested with errors, inaccuracies, and doctrinal bias towards Lutheranism. One bishop noted 2000 errors in NT alone. Even the Anglican King Henry VIII was outraged by the version that he ordered that his Bible be removed from the hands of all the people. The Bible scholars of his day were so outraged by his adulterations.”
CHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC RESPONSE
Historical context: Tyndale was working at a time when the Catholic Church held a monopoly on scriptural interpretation. His work aimed to make the Bible accessible to the common people, so they could read and understand it for themselves. Again, Tyndale was working in a period when the Bible was typically not available in the common vernacular. His goal was to make it more accessible to the ordinary person. This was a revolutionary act at the time, and not surprisingly, it met with significant resistance, particularly from the established Church, which held control over the text.
Tyndale’s dedication and sacrifice: Tyndale risked his life to translate the Bible, ultimately being executed for his efforts. This demonstrates his commitment to the cause rather than a quest for personal fame.
Claim of errors and inaccuracies: While it is true that some errors may have been present in Tyndale’s translation, it is important to recognize that he was working with limited resources and tools. Moreover, many of your alleged errors were differences in interpretation or translation, rather than intentional adulterations.
The influence of Lutheranism: Tyndale was certainly influenced by the ideas of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. However, this does not mean his translation was inherently biased. Instead, it reflects the broader religious landscape of the time and the need for a Bible that could be understood by the masses.
King Henry VIII’s reaction: While King Henry VIII did eventually order Tyndale’s Bible to be removed, this decision was influenced by his own political and religious motivations, rather than a genuine concern for the accuracy of the translation. In fact, when King James ordered a new version of the Bible to be made, he also ordered that they follow the Tyndale, Coverdale, the Geneva Bible and other 16th century Bibles.
The legacy of Tyndale’s work: Tyndale’s efforts laid the foundation for future translations, such as the King James Version, which has become one of the most widely read and respected English translations of the Bible. His work was groundbreaking and had a lasting impact on the accessibility of scripture for English-speaking Christians.
Influence: Despite the criticism, Tyndale’s translation has had a profound influence on nearly all subsequent English translations of the Bible. It is estimated that about 90% of the King James Version (KJV) and 75% of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the New Testament are drawn directly from Tyndale’s work. His effort to render the Bible into accessible English vernacular significantly shaped the course of English religious literature, and even the English language itself.
Scholarship: Tyndale’s translations were the first English translations to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, rather than the Latin Vulgate. His scholarship and linguistic skill were instrumental in creating a translation that was both accurate to the original languages and understandable to English-speaking people.
Revolution in Religious Practice: Tyndale’s work also played a crucial role in the democratization of Christianity. By making the Bible accessible to the common people, he empowered individuals to interpret the scriptures for themselves, reducing the exclusive control of the Church over biblical interpretation. This was a radical shift in religious practice and played a significant role in the Protestant Reformation.
Perseverance: Lastly, Tyndale’s perseverance in the face of intense opposition stands as a testament to his dedication to making the Bible accessible to all. His willingness to risk—and ultimately lose—his life for this cause has made him a revered figure in Christian history.
While both Martin Luther and William Tyndale were significant figures in the Protestant Reformation, and Tyndale was certainly influenced by Luther’s work, they did not always agree on doctrinal matters. For example, Tyndale disagreed with Luther’s view on the doctrine of the Eucharist. Luther maintained a belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, while Tyndale held a more symbolic view. These disagreements are likely leading to some of the criticisms from Lutherans.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that Tyndale was pioneering new ground with his translation work. In his time, he didn’t have access to the wealth of manuscripts, linguistic knowledge, and technological tools that scholars have today. The discovery of the Oxyrhynchus papyri and other manuscript finds in the centuries following Tyndale’s work have greatly expanded our understanding of the Bible’s original languages and the context in which it was written.
It’s relatively easy for people today, with all these resources and hindsight, to find fault in Tyndale’s work. However, this shouldn’t diminish the magnitude of his accomplishment. He was one man, working largely in isolation and under threat of persecution, who managed to translate the Bible into English. This was a monumental task that laid the groundwork for all subsequent English Bible translations. It’s important to interpret historical figures like Tyndale in their proper historical and cultural context.
YOU ARE EMPLOYING SEVERAL LOGICAL FALLACIES IN YOUR ARGUMENT AGAINST WILLIAM TYNDALE
Ad Hominem: You attack Tyndale’s character (calling him a “delusionist” and “narcissist”) instead of addressing his arguments or the quality of his work. This is a form of ad hominem fallacy.
Appeal to Authority: You refer to a bishop who reportedly found 2,000 errors in Tyndale’s New Testament, and to King Henry VIII’s outrage. This is an appeal to authority, assuming that these figures must be correct solely because of their positions.
Hasty Generalization: You generalize that Tyndale’s translation was entirely erroneous and adulterated based on the mentioned errors. They make a broad claim without sufficient evidence to support it, which is a hasty generalization.
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc (After This, Therefore Because of This): You assume that because King Henry VIII and other scholars were outraged, Tyndale’s work must have been of poor quality. This fallacy assumes causation from a mere correlation.
Presentism: This isn’t a formal logical fallacy, but it’s a common error in historical interpretation. You are judging Tyndale’s work by today’s standards—access to manuscripts, technological tools, and modern knowledge of ancient languages—rather than in the context of his own time.