Tyndales' Errors


Carried over from a previous, off topic, thread.

For readers to **truly **determine for themselves, they need to get both sides of the story.

Even though Tyndales tactics made him resemble the Jehovah’s Witnesses, of course, he was not* literally* a JW (that sect not being invented until the mid-19th century).However, if you look at all the factors in his case, he was by any definition a heretic. And don’t forget: at that time and place, being a heretic was not just a religious error, but because it could and did lead to violence and rebellion, it was a crime against the State. Political, cultural and religious revisionism aside, like it or not, that is a fact. Society as a whole took religion much more seriously than we do today.

It is pretty much impossible to find a biography of him that is completely impartial. This is because Protestants have made him out to be a folk hero in their efforts to legitimize their existence and as a stick to bash Catholics. It doesn’t help that they tend to completely remove the event from the context of the times in which they occurred. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to those who actually lived in those times, not those who pass judgement on them and their motives with 2000 years removed 20/20 hindsight.

Catholics, in reaction to this, when they try to fill in the omitted facts, simply come across as defensive in their attempts to give the other side of the story. Popular histories like you hear in school and see on TV tend to take the Protestant angle. It is easier for those sources to repeat the myth than to dig for facts, and makes for a more titillating retelling.

What one must do, consequently, is look at it with a true historian’s eye: consider the times these events occurred; the people, current events, culture, politics, average educational level, and society as a whole. Then look at it from more than one perspective, and draw your conclusions from that.

Here are two articles about Tyndale and his errors – what we might call “the rest of the story.”



Don’t swallow anti-Catholic propaganda, from whatever source, whole and uncritically. Without preconceptions, consider what you read, balance it with what you already know, THEN draw your conclusions.


Do you know of a list that shows some of the major errors in the Tyndale edition?


Here is a sample from St. Thomas More…

(1) St. Thomas More commented that searching for errors in the Tyndale Bible was similar to searching for water in the sea. Tyndale translated the term baptism into “washing;” Scripture into “writing;” Holy Ghost into “Holy Wind,” Bishop into “Overseer,” Priest into “Elder,” Deacon into “Minister;” heresy into “choice;” martyr into “witness;” evangelist into “bearer of good news;” etc., etc.

(1) The Jerome Biblical Commentary © 1968 Vol. II, pp. 586-588


Tyndale was not translating from English, so to condemn him on the basis of the English is senseless

“Ruach” & “Pneuma” do in fact both mean “wind”, as well as “breath”; “spiritus” is the Latin for breath, & “gast” is Old English for “spirit”. So the matter is not quite as straightfoward as it may seem.

The other words can be defended in a similar way. Tyndale was concerned to give the words the meaning they had in in the Biblical texts, no matter what they might have come to mean; More’s POV was ecclesiastical, rather than Biblical. ##


Hello Michael,

What you say about “Pneuma” is so. However, a change in words can cause a change in perception. As an example, take the word martyr. True, the Gk. does mean “to witness” and that is supposedly the way Tyndale translated it…but when I hear the word martyr it brings to mind someone who gave his or her life for the faith whereas the word witness might mean anything from making the sign of the cross to talking to a friend or a group of people on a street. Then there is Tyndale’s “mind set.” I have read that he referred to the pope as the “anti-Christ of Rome” among other things in some of his footnotes. I have never read Tyndale’s translation and I’m not a biblical expert, but considering the time and circumstances in which his translation took place it’s just possible that biblical scholarship wasn’t the only thing that influenced his word selection.


As opposed to immersion?

“Baptism” does not mean “baptism,” BTW. Ask most anyone what “baptise” means and they cannot tell you. Ask them what immersion means, and it is common knowledge.

Tyndales translation is more accurate than simple “baptism.”

" Scripture into “writing;”



Scripture is writings, plain and simple.

Holy Ghost into “Holy Wind,”

Totally accurate.

Even Christ Himself used that same analogy with Nicodemus.

“Holy Ghost” is actually less accurate today.

Bishop into “Overseer,”

Totally accurate.

Most people cannot tell you what “bishop” means in English, but everyone knows what an overseer is.

Priest into “Elder,”

Way more accurate than “priest.”

That is what “presbuteros” literally means: elder.

The Greek has a different word for “priest.”

Deacon into “Minister;”

Perfect translation.

“Deacon” is a transliteration, not a translation.

heresy into “choice;”


“Heresy” is a transliteration, not a translation.

martyr into “witness;”

Perfect translation.

“Martyr” is a transliteration, not a translation.

evangelist into “bearer of good news;”


It seems More was more preoccupied with attacking Tyndale rather than seeing the truth in these accurate translations.


This is an interesting post. I finished my B.B.A. (Business Administration) at William Tyndale college in Farmington Hills, MI. In one class, we had to come up with a person who we looked up to as an example of leadership. I chose, St. Thomas More. My presentation was rather lengthy, because I chose to explain what saints were, why they’re important, etc.

Part of the project was to examine the person objectively, so I had to play the part of the devil’s advocate. The one thing that I did mention is his verbal battle with Tyndale. I informed them of the launguage which he used and we can say that by today’s standards, his reaction was harsh. But considering the times, his reaction would have been considered appropriate. Thankfuly Tyndale was “martyred” not by the Catholic Church, but by the already separated English authorities, although some could argue that the split wasn’t complete until QE1 came to the throne.



DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.