Local hero: play about William Tyndale comes to Cam

3C Community Church brings a professional drama production about Christian hero and martyr William Tyndale to the land of his birth later this month.

The production, called His Word, tells the true story of the 16th century Gloucestershire scholar who translated the Bible into English against fierce opposition from Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More and the Pope.

After fleeing from country to country, he was eventually betrayed by secret agents and burned at the stake near Brussels.

The one-hour costume drama is presented by Maranatha Productions, a non-profit US-based ministry, at 3C’s building in Church Road, Upper Cam, at 7.30pm on Saturday 27th February. It is the only local date on the drama company’s current tour of England. Entrance is free: a collection will be taken in support of Maranatha Productions.

3C’s Rev Noel Fellowes said: “Tyndale really was a Christian hero and had a thrilling, if tragic, life story. We are delighted to be bringing this drama to the area where Tyndale was born and brought up. Maranatha Productions came to Cam some years ago and were well received, so it should be an excellent evening.”

Tyndale was born and educated locally – Stinchcombe, North Nibley and Slimbridge all have claims to be his birthplace. After studying at Oxford, he returned to the area as a young man, becoming a tutor to a family in Little Sodbury. The monument on the hill above North Nibley was built by the Victorians in his honour.

At a time when the Bible was available only in Latin and was little known even by the clergy, Tyndale had a vision to translate it into plain English so that anyone could read it. The young scholar famously once told a priest that he planned to translate the Bible so that even a plough boy would one day know the Bible better than he did.

It was a dangerous ambition: in early 16th century England, buying, selling or even reading portions of the Bible in English was a crime punishable by death.

But Tyndale was determined. When persecution grew in England, he fled abroad and, though hounded around Europe, eventually succeeded in translating the whole Bible, getting it printed and having copies smuggled back into England.

Tyndale was not only determined; he was talented too. In fact, he was a linguist of true genius. Phrases such as ‘flowing with milk and honey’, ‘to fall by the sword’, ‘the powers that be’ and ‘the apple of his eye’ are all his.

In 1535, at the instigation of Sir Thomas More, Tyndale was arrested, jailed in the castle of Vilvoorde outside Brussels for over a year, tried for heresy and burned at the stake. He was strangled before his body was burnt.

By this time, Henry VIII was, in fact, already becoming more open to Protestant ideas, including English translations of the Bible. Less than four years later, he sanctioned the publication of the first official English-language Bible. This translation, the Great Bible, borrowed heavily from Tyndale’s work: a fulfilment of Tyndale’s dying prayer ‘Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.’

When the famous Authorised Version of the Bible was published under King James I some 75 years after Tyndale’s death, well over three-quarters of the wording was in fact his.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rev Noel Fellowes on 01453 546775