Everyone’s heard of Martin Luther, but what about William Tyndale? Tyndale was the Englishman who lived in exile and died a martyr’s death trying to give the English a Bible in their own language.
According to Steven Lawson, “In 1521, Tyndale felt he needed to step away from the academic atmosphere in order to give more careful thought to the truths of the Reformation. He also wanted time to study and digest the Greek New Testament. So he took a job back in Gloucestershire, working for the wealthy family of Sir John Walsh. During this time, he realized that England would never be evangelized using Latin Bibles. He came to see that “it was impossible to establish the lay people in any truth, except the Scripture were laid before their eyes in their mother tongue” (Robert Demaus and Richard Lovett, William Tyndale: A Biography [London: The Religious Tract Society, 1886], 710).”
Church officials in England resisted Tyndale’s please to translate the Bible into English, so he moved to Germany to begin the work and by 1526 was smuggling English copies of the New Testament into his native land.
You can read the rest of Lawson’s brief biography of William Tyndale’s translation work, exile and martyrdom here.