I happened to have reason this morning to drive along the very Western Edge of the Cotswolds. The escarpment here is abrupt and dramatic, sweeping straight down in to the Severn Valley. In the first photograph you can see the Tyndale Monument on the right hand hillside. It is a familiar sight to any motorist who travels the M5 between Cheltenham/Gloucester and Bristol. You can click on the first image to enlarge it if you wish.
Not a lot is known for certain about William Tyndale's early life but it is though that he was born somewhere near the location of the monument in about 1494. He studied at Magdalen in Oxford and while there was ordained. Having taken his MA he went on to begin a course in Theology and was scandalised to find that it did not include any study of scripture. It is believed that he organised private reading groups of fellow students to study the Scriptures. He was a great linguist reading Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Italian, German and Spanish. But he was already beginning to cause controversy by his opinions and after a short time as a chaplin in Old Sodbury he journeyed to London to seek permission and assistance in translating the Bible into English. This was not forthcoming and he left England secretly in 1512 and completed his translation of the New Testament which was eventually published in Worms and Antwerp in 1526. These books were then smuggled into England and circulated. In the same year he was condemned as a heretic by Cardinal Wolsey. Strangely enough Tyndale condemned the divorce of Henry VIII on Scriptural grounds and this may have been the main factor in the personal interest the King took in Tyndale's arrest and execution.
I had an "interesting" "conversation" recently with a Christian who told me that before the Reformation reading the Bible was forbidden and the church told people what to believe. Some of this old protestant propaganda dies a very slow death. As far as I see the issue with the bible was not so much one of forbidding everyone to read it but a great worry about the effect of allowing more than one version of the text to exist. Also of course it is the Church's role to interpret scripture for us. When I read of the result of everyone interpreting the bible for themselves and in their own way, I can not understand how some protestants feel so strongly that this is a good thing; everyone can not be right at the same time. When the only version of the bible available was the Vulgate we had the exact same bible in every land, just as we had the exact same Mass.
This shot is taken about a mile North of the first and what you don't really see is the precipitous drop immediately beyond the information sign. But what you can see in all these photographs is our continuing appalling weather. This morning was cold, damp and windy: