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A former Catholic, William Tyndale, (1492? - 1536), was fluent in eight languages and is considered by many to be the primary architect of the modern English language. William Shakespeare followed in his footsteps decades later. His life's desire and work of translating the Greek New Testament into plain English was made possible through Erasmus' publication of his Greek/Latin New Testament in 1516. Despite persecution by Roman Catholic inquisitors and bounty hunters, working under Martin Luther in Germany, in 1525/6 Tyndale printed the very first English New Testament. The Bishop of London sought to confiscate and burn them, but copies continued to be smuggled into England. Bishop Tunstal declared that Tyndale's translation contained thousands of errors as they torched hundreds of New Testaments confiscated by the clergy. One risked death by burning if caught in mere possession of the forbidden books. Like the Pharisees of old, the clergy realized that having God's Word available to the people in the language of common English, would mean disaster to the RCC, as more people became aware of the truth of the Scriptures. Only two complete copies of Tyndale's first printing are known to have survived. Any Edition printed before 1570 is very rare and valuable, particularly pre-1540 editions and fragments. After eleven years of being hunted, Tyndale was caught; betrayed by an Englishman that he had befriended. He was incarcerated for 500 days before he was strangled and burned at the stake in 1536. His last words were, 'Lord, open the eyes of the King of England'.

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