Editorial · December 2000

The first year of the new Millenium (or for purists, the last of the old) has seen Tyndale in the Dome, Tyndale in the Tube and Tyndale of 1526 in print. Who, in the opening decades of the sixteenth century, could have foretold that this talented, well-educated, determined rural priest would have achieved such a high profile nearly five centuries after his persecution and martyrdom? Certainly not his chief protagonists and adversaries: King Henry VIII, who ordered him to be hunted down in Antwerp, Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall, who brought in and burnt his newly printed Bibles by the hundreds, and Sir Thomas More, who poured out thousands of words of invective and reasoned arguments in print to refute him. Coincidentally and ironically his sparring partner, More, has joined him on the honour role by being declared the patron saint of politicians by Pope John Pope II in the very same year.

And surely even Tyndale, whose vision was to see that even the ploughboy would be able to read and understand the scriptures for himself and who went to the stake fervently hoping that God would enable this to be achieved by opening the King of England's eyes, could not have forseen that there would be a new revolution on the threshold of the 21st century: a revolution, as earth shaking as printing was to the 16th century, that would enable every literate person to access the scriptures in any language, in any edition and in any place on earth by means of the internet? Remember, he himself was more than pleased to be able to use the money, obtained from Tunstall by the cloth merchant Augustine Packington, to replace the burnt copies by ordering another print run. He could not have envisaged that, at the dawn of the New Millenium, even if his website was infected by a virus due to the malignant manipulation of a modern day militant bishop, it could easily be countered with the help of a competent computer programmer working at a small desk on his laptop in any location in the land.

Besides various articles this issue contains extensive reports on the many interesting events which have taken place this autumn on both sides of the Atlantic. It is pleasing to note that the British Library 1996 exhibition panels Let there be Light are now being successfully used by Dr Joe Johnson in Florida and have already been on display in Alabama. I dare say that Dr John Hellstern, who has reported for us on his Bible exhibition in Oklahoma, would have been pleased to know of their existence when planning his venture rather than having to re-invent the wheel as it were. The fascinating J. Arthur Rank 1937 film entitled The Life of William Tindale has been shown both in England and America thanks to the enthusiasm of the ubiquitous Mary Clow. Bill Cooper was easily nudged into writing an article about the Packingtons who were featured in that film. One of our book reviews on Sir Thomas More, although it is not about the most recent biography, could not have been more timely. The other review is by our distinguished and hard working chairman Professor David Daniell.

Readers have written in with extensive and helpful comments. Our Emeritus Chairman, Sir Edward Pickering wrote in providing some valuable background material on an article published in issue no. 16 and another paper by George Wedd on St Paul, written as a result of reflection on the content of our recent conference, could well have been presented there in its own right. The information on Early Bibles in print refers extensively to our new technology, the World Wide Web. As editor I am keen to give prominence to this line of research: I feel that this presents an opening for the informed, but not full time academic, members of our Society to make a positive contribution to further research studies.

I am deeply indebted and grateful to the officers of the Tyndale Society for helping me so unstintingly this year and to all of you who have contributed articles, letters, research material, information so readily. Thank you all very much and please continue to send me copy; even if my acknowledgement system fails occasionally, I am truly grateful for all your contributions. All in all this first year of the twenty first century (or for purists, the last of the old) has been an exciting and interesting time to take over as editor of the Journal. May I wish you all a happy Christmas and an intellectually stimulating New Year.

'Join then all hearts that are not stone,
And all our voices prove,
To celebrate this Holy One
The God of peace and love.'

15th century carol: words by Thomas Pestel 1584-1659

Valerie Offord, 1 December 2000