Ronald Mansbridge
July 2002

A few years ago in the quincentenary of Tyndale’s birth, I set up a table and chairs outside our Public Library in Weston and quizzed people as they came out. Let me explain for readers outside the United States that Weston, Connecticut is an exurban town, 50 miles from New York City with 10,000 inhabitants in the upper brackets financially and educationally.

Believe it or not, out of 30 people I spoke with, not a single one knew who Tyndale was. The nearest was a lady who had heard the name and thought he might be an English 18th century philosopher. I had a bit more luck with the ministers and priest of our four local churches, Congregational, Episcopal, Roman Catholic and Unitarian. I suggested that on one Sunday in the year the lessons should be read from Tyndale’s translation. This suggestion was accepted with some warmth; but I do not think that it was ever implemented.

This summer I repeated the experiment. I saw a total of 33, 18 women and 15 men, mostly Episcopalian, Jewish, Roman Catholic and agnostic. This time about a third of them recognized the name and two of them knew who Tyndale was. One of these was a man, Jewish, who knew it from his general educational background; the other, an Episcopalian lady, said she had learned about Tyndale during the last few years.

So we are making a tiny bit of progress. What can we do to speed things up? This time I tried to spread the word a bit by handing out copies of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians about Love.

I think the most successful thing we can do is to encourage the churches to have lessons read occasionally from the Tyndale translation. This has its own reward. I can remember more than 40 years ago reading the lessons in church from the New English Bible and being amused to watch one member of the congregation after another wake up as their ears caught an unfamiliar word or phrase. I hope that there may be a continuing effort in the churches along these lines.

Valid XHTML 1.0!