The Catholic University of America

Tyndale's Answer to More: "A Proper Text and Well Framed" (37/30)
By Sr. Anne. M. O'Donnell, S.N.D.
Delivered to the Friends of the Library
September 28, 2000

I take my title from a sentence in Tyndale's Answer to More: "How saye ye / is not this a propir texte and well framed . . . ?" (37/30-31). The adjective "proper" and the participial phrase "well framed" are doublets because they mean nearly the same thing and both modify "text": "proper" means "handsome, well-made" (OED I.8.); "well framed" means "well fabricated, well expressed" (OED 8.).

For the first part of this lecture, I modestly describe my critical edition of Tyndale's Answer to More as a "proper" or "well-made" book. I will examine in turn its constituent parts: text and variants of 1531, sidenotes of 1573, commentary, glossary, and indices. I trust that these bibliographical topics will engage the interest of all those who love books.

For the second part of the lecture, I use the participle "framed" in its modern meaning: "enclosed as in a frame" (verb, OED 9., 1705ff). I apply "well framed" to the relationship between Tyndale's Answer to More and the two books that flank it. I will compare More's Dialogue Concerning Heresies, Tyndale's Answer to More, and More's Confutation of Tyndale on their most important points. I hope that this theological analysis will deepen your understanding of the debate between the two foremost opponents in the first generation of the English Reformation.

As a prologue to the description of my edition and to the analysis of the relationships between More's Dialogue, Tyndale's Answer, and More's Confutation, I will introduce you to the life and works of More and Tyndale. [1SLIDE #78] This portrait of More in the National Gallery, London is a copy of the 1527 work by Hans Holbein the Younger in the Frick Collection, New York. Holbein's portrait of More shows him as a statesman, but he was also a creative writer and a martyr for the Church, unam catholicam. [2SLIDE #79] Hertford College, Oxford claims that this picture represents Tyndale; in fact, it is of John Knox (Answer xliv n4). This presumed portrait shows Tyndale as a biblical translator, but he was also an exile and a martyr for the Reformation principles of sola scriptura and sola fide. Some five hundred years after the birth of More and Tyndale, I offer you these two verbal portraits.

Thomas More (1477/78-1535) was born the son of a lawyer in London some fourteen years before Tyndale. After two years at Oxford, he studied law at New Inn and Lincoln's Inn. He married Jane Colt in 1505, fathered four children, lost his first wife, then married Alice Middleton in 1511. After serving in a number of professional and civic offices, More was appointed to the King's Council in 1517 and knighted in 1521.

The text of Tyndale's Answer makes no explicit reference to More's political career, but I do so in the commentary. When Tyndale scoffs at the wheeling and dealing in Parliament (159/29n), I note that More as Speaker of the House in 1523 persuaded the Commons to approve money for the invasion of Scotland and France: not the 800,000 pounds sought but less than one-fifth as much (136,000 pounds or 17%). Grateful for this assistance, Cardinal Wolsey gave More a bonus of 100 pounds. I also note that More served as Lord Chancellor (October 1529 to May 1532) during the first three sessions of the Reformation Parliament. There, he remained aloof from the king's marital problems while advancing bills beneficial to Lords and Commons.

More's high political status added luster to his works of religious polemic, but Tyndale's Answer shrewdly cites More's humanist work Utopia (168/3, 194/7). Against the middle-aged defender of popular piety and traditional English, Tyndale cites the work of a younger More, who had praised religious toleration and Greek studies. Resisting the spread of the Reformation, More now attacks Tyndale's New Testament, the first English translation to be made directly from the original Greek. Tyndale believes that More's opposition was motivated by avarice (22/14-15n). Mistakenly, Tyndale compares More to archetypal biblical sinners: to Balaam, who was not able to curse Israel even for silver or gold (cf. 14/15n); and to Judas, who sold Christ for thirty pieces of silver (cf. 14/14n). We know, as Tyndale did not, that More refused a gift of four or five thousand pounds which the bishops offered in gratitude for his religious polemic (Roper 46/16ff).

I must emphasize that, when Tyndale published Answer in July 1531, More as Lord Chancellor stood in the high noon of royal favor. Ten months were to pass before Archbishop William Warham accepted the king's claim of authority over the English Church, and before More submitted his resignation later the same day (May 15). More's dark night came three or four years later. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London [3SLIDE #CUA, Tower] in April 1534 and beheaded in July 1535 for upholding England's membership in "the comen corps of crystendome" (CWM 6/1.413/30). His last words were, "I die the king's good servant and God's first."

Some fourteen years younger than More, William Tyndale (1491?-1536) was born into a family of yeoman farmers on the Welsh border. He spent a dozen years at Oxford where he earned his B.A. in 1512 and his M.A. in 1515. [4SLIDE #25] Besides the usual studies in Latin, Tyndale studied Greek at Magdalen College, Oxford. [5SLIDE #CUA, King's College, Cambridge] After his ordination to the priesthood, Tyndale may have studied at Cambridge, where Erasmus had served as Professor of Divinity and Lecturer in Greek from 1511 to 1514. [6-7SLIDE #33, 37] In the early 1520s Tyndale returned to his native Gloucestershire, where he was a tutor at Little Sodbury Manor. In August 1535, about six weeks after More's death, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn visited here while making a royal progress (Daniell 54n19 citing LP 8.989). Although the manor is still in private hands, the owners opened their doors to members of the Tyndale Society in September 1994.

[8SLIDE #CUA, Erasmus by Quentin Massys, 1517] In 1516 Erasmus had published the first printed Greek New Testament with a corrected Latin translation. [9SLIDE #CUA, 1516 NT] This edition would serve as the basis for both Luther's and Tyndale's versions. [10SLIDE #45, Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1525] Luther published his German translations of the Christian Scriptures in 1522 and of the Hebrew Scriptures in his complete German Bible in 1534. [11SLIDE #CUA, Luther's Bible, 1536] Both Erasmus and Luther inspired Tyndale to translate the Bible into the vernacular, not from the Latin Vulgate but directly from the original languages.

[12SLIDE #44, Map of Europe] In April 1524, Tyndale left England for the Continent, where he could more freely publish his biblical translations. [13SLIDE #46] Tyndale's first attempt at publishing his English New Testament at Cologne in 1525 was interrupted by the Catholic authorities at Matt. 22.12. We would use this illustration of St. Matthew from the Cologne Fragment in the Tyndale issue of Moreana (July 1991). [14SLIDE #47] Tyndale was able to publish a complete English New Testament at Worms in 1526. We would use this illustration of St. John from the Worms New Testament for the frontispiece of Word, Church,and State: Tyndale Quincentenary Essays (1998).

[15SLIDE #52, A sixteenth-century drawing of Antwerp] After working briefly in Cologne and Worms, Tyndale spent most of his years of exile in Antwerp, a port facing England. Here More composed Utopia, Book 2 in 1515, and Tyndale published his translation of the Pentateuch in 1530, Jonas in 1531, and a revised New Testament in 1534. [16SLIDE #69] Here is an illustration of Aaron from Tyndale's Exodus of 1530. Tyndale also wrote and published six major works of polemic and exegesis in Antwerp.

Tyndale believed in the principle of sola scriptura: that the basic truths of Christianity are so clearly expressed in the Bible that all should be able to read and interpret it for themselves. Tyndale also believed in the principle of sola fide: that we are saved only through faith in Christ. Furthermore, Tyndale declared that the papacy was totally corrupt, and he hinted that the Eucharist is only a sign of Jesus's Passion and Death. When he published his unorthodox beliefs, Tyndale foresaw his probable fate. [17SLIDE #89, from Foxe's Book of Martyrs, 1563.] He was arrested in May 1535 and condemned by a church court for rejecting papal authority and human merit. Tyndale was garrotted and his corpse burnt outside Brussels in October 1536. His last words were "Lord, open the king of England's eies."

This prayer for the authorized publication of an English Bible was answered in 1537. The so-called "Matthew's Bible" contains, not only Tyndale's Pentateuch and New Testament, but his translations of Joshua through 2 Chronicles. These were all included in the King James Bible (1611). His anonymous contribution, like leaven in flour (Luke 13.21), has permeated the English language.

More lived most of his fifty-eight years at the center of English political life, whereas Tyndale lived most of his forty-five years on the circumference. More saw himself as a knight defending the Church Universal, whereas Tyndale heard himself as a voice in the desert calling the Little Flock of the elect. I prefer to see both men as witnesses to Christ: the Mystical Body for More and the merciful Savior for Tyndale.


Scholars of the sixteenth century frequently ask why the Catholic University of America would publish a Protestant reformer. The answer is found partly in the St. Thomas More Project and partly in Tyndale's linguistic, historical, and theological significance. Tyndale is important for More studies because More's Dialogue Concerning Heresies (CWM 6) refers to Tyndale's Mammon and Obedience; More's Confutation of Tyndale (CWM 8) refers, primarily to Tyndale's Answer, but also to his Mammon, Obedience, and Exposition of 1 John; More's Apology (CWM 9) refers again to Tyndale's Answer.

When Yale University Press was preparing More's Confutation of Tyndale for publication in 1973, the executive editor, Richard S. Sylvester, laid the groundwork for another series on the works of More's opponent. Up to now, Tyndale's polemical and exegetical tracts have been available only as reprints of the nineteenth-century Parker Society. By encouraging several of his graduate students to prepare critical editions of these treatises for their dissertations, Sylvester commissioned a core of texts for the first scholarly edition of the independent works.

Sylvester's premature death in 1978 deprived us of a friend and mentor. In 1981, we were further blocked by the claim, never materialized, that another press was planning an edition of Tyndale. Thus, our work fell into Limbo for five years. On October 6, 1986, the 450th anniversary of Tyndale's death, I offered a petition at Mass in Caldwell Chapel: "In thanksgiving for the contribution to biblical studies made by William Tyndale." The congregation answered, "Lord, hear our prayer," and He did! A few days later, I gave a report to the CUA Press on a book about Milton and Midrash. I concluded, "It was a well documented study of Paradise Lost, but why would CUA publish a book on the debt of a Protestant author to Jewish exegesis?" Dr. David McGonagle replied that the press was concerned with sound scholarship, not religious affiliation. It was one of those moments of "Speak now or forever hold your peace." McGonagle WAS interested in More's opponent, and so the Tyndale editors resumed their climb up the Mount of Purgatory.

Even after our prospectus was accepted by the press in 1987, there were further delays. To enable our editors to meet, I organized Tyndale panels at national conferences in 1987 and 1988. These papers were published in a special issue of Moreana 106-7 (July 1991) for which I served as guest editor. In 1994, I convened an international conference in Washington commemorating the 500th anniversary of Tyndale's birth. With John Day and Eric Lund, I co-edited the best of these papers for publication by the Catholic University of America Press as Word, Church, and State (1998). Our panels and papers have made new friends, who are eagerly awaiting the publication of Tyndale's works of polemic and exegesis. My lecture tonight showcases the first volume to be published: Tyndale's Answer to More.

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David Greetham, in his comprehensive survey of Textual Scholarship (1992), lists four parts of a critical edition: the text restored to its pristine state, annotations, glossary and indices [(New York: Garland, 1992) 317]. Discussing each of these parts will allow me to describe the special libraries where I worked and the research tools which I used for making "a proper text" of Tyndale's Answer to More.


The first step in restoring an Early Modern text is to compare the versions avaliable. Because Tyndale was a fugitive, we have no surviving notes or drafts of his books. His adversary More was a persona non grata after his arrest in 1534. Probably because More had been silenced, there are only two sixteenth-century editions of Tyndale's Answer. I collated both of these at the Folger Shakespeare Library, four miles away on Capitol Hill.

My associations with the Folger date back to 1961, my junior year at Trinity College. With permission, Professor Nancy Pollard Brown took a group of students from her Shakespeare class into the Main Reading Room. It was as quiet as a church under its stained-glass window of the Seven Ages of Man. I later collated there many editions of Erasmus' Handbook of the Christian Soldier for my doctoral dissertation (Yale, 1972), published by the Early English Text Society (1981). This translation of the Enchiridion, presumably the one made by Tyndale before he left England, served as my initiation into Tyndale studies. Later on, I used the Folger copies of the first edition of Tyndale's Answer (the octavo of 1531) and the posthumous version in Whole Works (the folio of 1573) as the basis of this critical edition.

Thanks to grants from the University Research Fund and from the Sisters of Notre Dame, I was able to hire graduate students as research assistants. Working from the Folger xerox of 1531, Mariann Payne typed the text of Tyndale's Answer onto one disk. Modern scanners are not yet able to reproduce Gothic type accurately. In one experiment, the scanner replaced every unreadable letter with a dollar sign. After labor-intensive typing and checking, the critical edition of Tyndale's Answer gives the text of 1531 in its original spelling with all abbreviations expanded except the ampersand (&). I keep the original punctuation with its frequent use of the "virgule" or "slash" instead of the modern comma and semi-colon. When I correct student papers today, I frequently wish we could reintroduce Tudor punctuation, which indicates pauses of breath more than subordination of thought. Because the Henrician and Elizabethan editions of Tyndale's Answer are separated by forty-odd years of human speech, Whole Works "modernizes" his language. In the variants given at the bottom of the page I omit non-essential changes of spelling, but I do record corrections of errors and substantial changes in morphology, for example, "beleuen" to "beleued" (36/28) and syntax, for example, "maner workes" to "maner of workes" (100/23-24).

The copy of Tyndale's Answer in the Folger is distinctive for the signature on the title-page of "Iohan bale" (1495-1563). This Carmelite friar joined the Reformation, for which he wrote the first English history play. In King Johan (c1540-63), Bale shows Innocent III excommunicating John for confiscating church property. The playwright then shows the king reducing the sovereign state of England to a feudal vassal of the pope. Anti-papal feeling could well have passed from Tyndale through Bale to Shakespeare in his own King John (performed 1596).

The octavo edition of Tyndale's Answer is a "handsome" book in the sixteenth-century meaning of "easy to handle" (OED 1.a.), but not in the sixteenth-century meaning of "ready at hand" (OED 1.b.). Thanks to a travel grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in May 1989, I was able to collate my xerox of Tyndale's Answer from the Folger against the other surviving copies in London, Cambridge, and Dublin.

When I worked on Tyndale's Answer at the old British Library in Bloomsbury, there was no noteworthy incident. But I do remember another occasion, when I read Margaret Roper's English translation of Erasmus' Latin commentary on the Lord's Prayer. At the O to Z window, Anne O'Donnell of Catholic University met Lena Orlin of the Folger, then researching her book, Private Matters and Public Culture in Post-Reformation England (Cornell UP, 1995). The ghost of Virginia Woolf, haunting her old neighborhood, would have been delighted to see two women scholars recovering the work of their Tudor foremothers.

When I collated Tyndale's Answer at Cambridge University Library, I was filled with nostalgia because I was reading the very copy used for the Parker Society edition of 1850. This modern-spelling version was edited and lightly annotated by Henry Walter. His worst fault was to bowdlerize the text. For example, Tyndale mocks a supertitious devotion to the Sign of the Cross in which people bless themselves "behynde and before and . . . on the very arse" (60/6-7). The Victorian editor cut the offensive word, but the search key on my computer found "arse" hidden in the word "coarse" in the note: "A coarse expression is here omitted" (PS 3.61n2). I was privileged to work at Cambridge where Virginia Woolf was not allowed to enter rare-book collections when preparing A Room of One's Own [1929; New York: Harcourt, 1957 (7-8)].

Of the four surviving copies of Tyndale's Answer, only the one in Trinity College, Dublin, has suffered major damage. Perhaps leaves were torn out during the times of strife recurrent in the Island of Saints and Scholars. Missing are eight leaves on the church (A1-8), two leaves on the Eucharist (F4-5), and eight leaves on priestly celibacy (N1-8). While collating the Folger xerox with the Dublin copy, I enjoyed a multi-cultural experience: rock-and-roll music floated up from the courtyard, where the undergrads were celebrating Trinity Week.

It was a delightful experience to work in these rare-book libraries and, after closing hours, to visit museums, theaters, and pubs. In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that every stage required comparing the texts word-by-word backwards: 1531 against 1573, the typed copy against the original, the copies in London, Cambridge, and Dublin against the xerox of Folger, page-proofs against Folger. Otherwise, I could not begin to catch every mistake.

After the text and sidenotes of 1531, an appendix records the sidenotes added to Tyndale's Answer in the Whole Works of 1573. Most of these notes aim simply to help the reader find a topic on the large folio page. But some notes react to doctrinal and political issues of the later sixteenth century. For example, to emphasize justification by faith not works, "Faith" becomes "Faith is the gift of God & commeth not by free wil." (192/S1). Probably because Queen Elizabeth I disapproved of a married clergy, Tyndale's sidenote, "Prestes maye haue wives." (152/S1), is omitted. The changes made in 1573 both unfold the theology implicit in Tyndale's thought and show how it was received by a later age.


In his witty assessment of editing practices, David Greetham asserts that the text is more important than the notes: "Some editors . . . seem to regard the establishment of the text as a comparatively trivial matter preceding the real purpose of the edition - the writing of annotations" (Textual Scholarship 368). Tyndale's Answer has no textual problems since the Elizabethan editor of Whole Works merely updated the spelling and added further sidenotes. However, since sixteenth-century authors seldom indicated their sources, modern editors have plenty of scope for making annotations.

The commentary of Tyndale's Answer spans fifteen-hundred years of church history from the New Testament to Tyndale's works of polemic and exegesis. In general, annotations were made by: me for the Bible, the Fathers, Erasmus, More, and the English setting; by Jared Wicks of the Gregorian University for Luther, Zwingli, and the Continental setting. (Jared Wicks cannot be here tonight because in September he always attends a session of the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue.) After she completed her doctoral studies at CUA, Jennifer Bess turned my cross-references to the other independent works of Tyndale into short essays. I further thank her for making made imaginative connections between English piety (60/19n) and the Isenheim Altarpiece, between Tyndale's defense of private interpretation of the Bible and Milton's of freedom of conscience (215/17-19n). (Happily, Jennifer Bess is present.)

As a reformer, Tyndale argues most forcefully sola scriptura. Every octavo page of Tyndale's Answer has three or four biblical references, totalling nearly a thousand. Before there were computer programs, I used Strong's Exhaustive Concordance to identify these biblical quotations, allusions and echoes. Since chapters of the Bible were not divided into verses until 1555 (Oxford Companion to the Bible 107), I used the Vulgate and the King James Version for verse numbers. It was awesome to consult a Facsimile of the Vulgate of 1480/81 (1992) in the Library of the Dominican House of Studies and a Facsimile . . . of the Authorized Version . . . 1611 (1911) in the Folger.

As an adherent of sola scriptura, Tyndale bases his faith only on the Bible. But in arguing against More, Tyndale's Answer appeals to non-scriptural authors, especially to the Fathers of the Church. Tyndale mastered Greek at Oxford or Cambridge and learned Hebrew perhaps at Wittenberg or Worms. When did he have time to read writers of the first Christian centuries? I believe that Tyndale relied on Unio Dissidentium, a patristic anthology twice mentioned in Tyndale's Answer (188/3, 213/22). Unio addresses the main topics of Reformation controversy, for example: faith and works, the Eucharist, the veneration of saints, and the Antichrist. The handbook contains selections from the Fathers cited by Tyndale, especially Augustine (42% in Unio). While More calls Tyndale an antinomian for denying the merit of good works, Tyndale calls More a Pelagian for defending the efficacy of free will (29/22-24n). In fact, both writers upheld the necessity of the divine initiative of grace and the human response of love.

I was able to use a copy of Unio (c1527) found in the Folger in consultation with many English translations, especially Augustine's letters. These were published in five volumes by Sr. Wilfred Parsons SND (1881-1970) between the ages of 70 and 75 (1951-1956). May God grant the Tyndale Project as many volumes and me as many productive years!

Using the resources found upstairs in the Theo-Phil Room, I give patristic references, not only to English but also to Latin and Greek: Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Migne's Latin and Greek Fathers, Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina (1953-), and Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (1866-). Susan Needham of the CUA Press just sighed when I told her I was adding these bibliographical references to the commentary. This labor deferred publication of Tyndale's Answer for another month, but we both wanted scholars to be able to check the Fathers in their original languages.

Because I did not know the combination to the lock on the Canon Law Room at CUA, I used the Library of the Dominican House of Studies for copies of Greek and Latin canon law: Fontes Juris Orientalis (1933) and Corpus Iuris Canonici (1879-81). It was thrilling to find the original source for the laws regarding a married clergy in the Greek Church and for recognition of their customs in the Latin Church (153/7-8n).

I also traced the evolution of British law for a number of critical topics, for example: punishment of heretics (212/28-29n), transfer of money to Rome (138/7n), separation from Rome (159/29n), communion under both species (178/20-21n), the Bible in English (167/30-31n), and clerical marriage in the Church of England (38/27n). These are found in Statutes of the Realm (1810-1828) published in the time of Jane Austen and Julie Billiart, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame. I used the Folger's copy of Statutes, but now CUA has a reprint.

Whereas William Tyndale knew eight languages (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew), my theological co-editor knows seven. Jared Wicks reads Latin and New Testament Greek. He teaches in Italian and conducts oral or written exams in English, French, Spanish, and German. Thus, I relied on Wicks to annotate references to Luther and Zwingli. I annotated Erasmus, using the editions still in progress at Amsterdam (1969-) and Toronto (1974-). I annotated More in the Yale edition (1963-1997) begun by my dissertation director, Richard S. Sylvester.

Tyndale's Answer contains a puzzling reference to a friend of Erasmus and More, John Colet, founder of St. Paul's School for Boys. Tyndale claims that Colet was suspected of heresy for translating the Pater Noster into English. In truth, teaching the Lord's Prayer in English was not tolerated in followers of Wyclif, but translations by writers of proven orthodoxy were allowed. Eamon Duffy in Stripping of the Altars devotes a whole chapter to "How the Plowman learned his Paternoster" [(New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1992) 53-87]. Furthermore, Susan Brigden in London and the Reformation notes the publication of Colet's English translation of the Pater, Ave and Credo in . . . [M]yrrour . . . of lyfe (1532?) [(Oxford: Clarendon P, 1989, 1991) 71n315]. In answer to my e-mail inquiries, the librarians at Cambridge University Library and Magdalene College, Cambridge assured me that they held copies of Myrrour. In Summer 1998, I was able to read Colet's paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer in the Bodleian Library, Oxford and include a transcription in the commentary of Tyndale's Answer (168/28n).

As other examples of the international fellowship of scholars, I thank Germain Marc'hadour, the dean of More studies, for many cross-references to the Yale edition. David Daniell, the most recent biographer of Tyndale, called for some necessary additions in the commentary, for example, references to Luther's marriage (189/19n) and Coverdale's first edition of the complete English Bible (167/30-31n). As chief editor of Tyndale's Answer, I was responsible for checking all references to the apostolic, patristic, medieval, and Reformation eras and integrating them into the commentary.


First published in 1531, Tyndale's Answer sometimes retains Middle English vocabulary, but more frequently it introduces new words into Early Modern English. Thanks to another grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, I was able to spend Summer 1989 with The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1971). Using the magnifying glass which came with the two-volume set, I looked up obsolete words and senses, as well as first usages of new words and senses. Here are half-a-dozen examples:

#1. BRIDDES (191/27) (OED I.2.) for "birds" last recorded in 1526 (Tyndale's New Testament, Matt. 8.20);

#2. the proverbial phrase GOETH TO POTTE (109/3) for "cuts in pieces like meat for the pot" (OED 13.) first recorded in Tyndale's Answer (1531);

#3. PEPERITH (140/27) for "seasons (referring to writing)" (OED 6.b.) used in Tyndale's Answer but first recorded in 1600;

#4, 5, 6. The compilers of the OED cite More and Tyndale as both importing religious or philosophical terms from French, Latin or Greek, for example: AMICE (73/13) for priest's "upper garment," SACRAMENT for "sign, symbol" (25/26), and CHRESOM CLOTH (19/3) for "baptismal robe."

In Summer 1999, before the glossary went to press, I checked all the examples of first uses of words, senses and forms in Tyndale's Answer against The Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition [1989] on Compact Disk. (1994). I was grateful to use the equipment in the Theo-Phil Room. Even better, since Summer 2000 the OED is now accessible on-line from any office on campus.

Following the glossary is an index of proper names mentioned in Tyndale's Answer. This in turn is followed by a Scripture index, an index of major post-scriptural authors, and a general index. Working from the commentary, Mariann Payne drafted the Scripture index in the early 1990s and Chad A. Engbers updated and checked it in 1999. (Mariann Payne could not be present tonight, but Chad Engbers is here.) A quantitative analysis reveals the most frequently cited biblical texts, but I will give only one example. Tyndale's Answer refers to the law of God written in our hearts twenty-three times (Jer. 31.33 quoted in Heb. 8.10 and Heb. 10.16). Tyndale interprets the verse to mean that God enables us to love His commandments and thus to keep them. Writing against More, Tyndale is a stinging satirist, but addressing a reader whom he hopes to convert, Tyndale is an ardent apostle.

Besides fine-tuning the Scripture index, Engbers tabulated references to major post-scriptural authors: Jerome, Augustine, Aquinas, Erasmus, More, and Luther. Not knowing that I thought the references to Tyndale were too numerous to count, Engbers compiled three-and-a half pages of cross-references to Tyndale's works of polemic and exegesis. Engbers also drafted the general index with full entries for Henry VIII, councils, popes, and editions of the Bible.

Paradoxically, the front matter of a book is the last to be written. From the commentary, I compiled a bibliography of all books mentioned more than once. In the introduction to Tyndale's Answer, I briefly discuss the situation in Antwerp when Tyndale published his book. I also give technical descriptions of the sixteenth-century editions of Answer that I used. Jared Wicks summarizes the main points of Tyndale's theology. He then enumerates Tyndale's theological priorities in the first third of Answer and Tyndale's responses to More's topics in the last two-thirds of Answer.

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It was a major project to make this critical edition, but the work would not be complete unless I briefly explained how Tyndale's Answer is framed by More's Dialogue and More's Confutation. While yet a member of the King's Council, More wrote his affable Dialogue Concerning Heresies primarily for a Catholic audience. More as Author creates a dialogue in which More as Mentor draws the troubled young Messenger back from Lutheranism.

After More attacked the 1526 New Testament, Tyndale undertook a defense of his translation and its underlying theology of justification by faith in his terse Answer to More. It was the custom of sixteenth-century religious polemic to refute the opponent's arguments point by point, but this process allowed the opponent to set the agenda. Rejecting this practice, Tyndale attacks the four parts of More's Dialogue only in the later two-thirds of Answer. Instead, Tyndale asserts his own heart-felt beliefs in the first third of Answer, which Jared Wicks, the theological co-editor of Answer, names the "Foundational Essay."

More responded with Confutation of Tyndale, the first part (Bk. 1-3) published in Spring 1532 while still Lord Chancellor, the second part (Bk. 4-8) in Early 1533 after his resignation. Confutation is both the longest work by More (CWM 8/3.1260) and the longest religious polemic in English (Ackroyd 299). How many laymen could afford to buy these two bulky folios?

Not only did More counter-attack Tyndale topic by topic, but More's Confutation even reprinted the most important part of Tyndale's Answer: the first five points from the Foundational Essay (5/1 to 53/34). In More's Confutation, the rebuttals are printed in thick Gothic type while quotations from Tyndale's Answer are printed in slender italic, much easier to read! Typographically, More gave too much ground to Tyndale. Rhetorically and tactically, Tyndale won the debate by his concise presentation in Answer and by refusing to engage in a further exchange with More. I will contrast the positions of More's Dialogue and his Confutation on the six theses in the Foundational Essay of Tyndale's Answer, highlighting Points #1 and #4 and treating the other topics more quickly.

Topic #1. TYNDALE'S NEW TESTAMENT has much greater significance for Tyndale than More. More's Dialogue contains many fine arguments for an English Bible, especially its large-hearted rejection of a policy based on fear, "Whereof I wolde not for my mynde withhold the profyte that one good deuout vnlerned ley man myght take by the redyng / not for the harme that an hundred heretykes wolde fall in by theyr owne wylfull abusyon" (6/1.340/19-22). But then More retreats from this bold position and recommends that the local bishop distribute the New Testament to select souls (6/1.341/23-25) and further restrict the more difficult books, such as the Gospel of John, the Epistle to the Romans and the Apocalypse (6/1.343/28-33).

In addressing the general laity, More's Dialogue upholds the traditional terms which embodied the experience of English Christians in the Anglo-Saxon and Medieval periods. Tyndale's Answer defends his choice of an English vocabulary which aims to recreate the church of the apostolic era. In addressing the learned Tyndale, More's Confutation argues that secular Greek words acquired new religious meanings when they were adopted by the authors of the Greek New Testament.

More's attack on specific vocabulary in Tyndale's translation reveals fundamental differences between Catholic and Protestant ecclesiology: an international, hierarchical "church" versus a local, autonomous "congregation," a "priest" offering the sacrifice of the Mass versus a "senior" or "elder" explaining the Gospel, works of "charity" versus faith working through "love" (Gal. 5.6), the Scholastic term "grace" versus the Gallic word "favour," sacramental "penance" versus private "repentance." Instead of burning Tyndale's New Testament, I wish that the bishops had asked More to help translate the Christian Scriptures from Greek into an English acceptable to them.

Topic #2. SCRIPTURE AND TRADITION is of greater concern to More than Tyndale. Both opponents acknowledge that the Apostles preached the Gospel before their words were written down, but for Tyndale oral tradition ended when Scripture began (Answer 24/24-30). More pictures two sources of revelation, Scripture and tradition, which flow in separate, though parallel, streams (Confutation 8/1.223/32-224/1)). Here More follows an extreme position from the fourteenth century William of Ockham [George Tavard, Holy Writ or Holy Church (NY: Harper, 1959) 37 qtd by Hitchcock, 1971, 455, referred to by Hitchcock, 1975, 148.] Pre-thirteenth century theologians did not separate Scripture from the interpreting community. [Brian Gogan, The Common Corps of Christendom (Leiden: Brill, 1982) 25-26.] Although More does not believe in sola scriptura, his mind and heart were permeated by the Scriptures. Tyndale's exegetical writings show that he came to believe that people need help to interpret the Bible rightly.

Topic #3. PREDESTINATION TO HEAVEN is the topic least developed by More and Tyndale so I will merely glance at it. Tyndale's invisible Church is comparable to More's Church Triumphant. Both More and Tyndale believe that the number of those saved may be small.

Topic #4. THE PAPACY is not the most significant office in the church, neither for More nor Tyndale. As a devout layman, More favors a broad definition of the church. At least three times in Dialogue (6/1.54/22-23, 107/23, 118/12-14) and seven times in Confutation (8/1.131/24-25, 164/27-28, 398/29-31, 487/8-9; 8/2.578/21-22, 719/21-22, 909/32), More asserts that the church means all Christian people, not just the clergy. Tyndale interprets ekklesia to include the laity, especially the local "congregation" as in Bristol (11/25-31).

The popes who reigned during More's adulthood and Tyndale's lifetime included few holy men, perhaps only the short-reigned Adrian VI (pope, 1522-1523). In the twentieth century, we have been blessed with truly pastoral popes. I was surprised to note that today is the anniversary of the death of John Paul I in 1978. I am heartened by the example of John Paul II, who in addition to addresses and encyclicals makes time to write books!

More defends the papacy in Bk. 5, the shortest book of his Confutation (8/2.575-98). More publicly accepts the pope as vicar of Christ and head of the church (8/1.131/30-31, 132/1, 399/1-2; 8/2.735/22-25, 962/35-36, 1010/19-21) following St. Peter (8/2.1024/24-25). As a matter of strategy, however, More avoids claiming that the pope is the chief governor of the church (8/2.577/7-8, 594/8-11). More argues only that the pope "is included in the name of the hole body" (8/2.577/20-21). Formed in the English tradition, More ideally sees the king working in tandem with Parliament, and the pope working with a general council, representative of all Christendom. More and Tyndale disagree vehemently about the validity of the papal office, but in defining the church, they both focus on the laity.

Topic #5. HISTORICAL FAITH VERSUS FEELING FAITH is of greater importance to Tyndale than More. Tyndale distinguishes between two kinds of faith: "historical faith" and "feeling faith" (Answer 48/27-50/15). The people of Samaria first experienced "historical faith" when the woman at the well told them about Jesus. They experienced "feeling faith" when they heard for themselves the Savior preach (49/28-50/6). More devotes Bk. 4, the longest book of Confutation to the principle of sola fide and the second half of Bk. 7 to Tyndale's two kinds of faith. Because of More's strong sense of fellowship with the Apostles and Fathers, he had Tyndale's "historical faith." Since More holds we can always fall from grace in this life, he did not have Tyndale's "feeling faith." More and Tyndale disagree on the definition of faith, but they asked for and received the grace to be faithful unto death.

Topic #6. RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES holds the least interest for More and Tyndale. More's Dialogue addresses religious devotions first, because they touched late-medieval Christians in their daily lives. In general, the laity could not read Scripture in Latin, and many received the Eucharist only once a year at Easter. Tyndale's Answer addresses popular piety last because in his view it is least important. More's Confutation abruptly dismisses the sixth topic of Tyndale's Foundational Essay, "[H]e goth forthe wyth his collacyon of a great length, and techeth them after his fashyon what is very [true] worshyppynge, and then a longe processe of images, pylgrymage, sacramentes, and ceremonyes" (8/2.775/24-27). More based his spiritual life on the sacraments, but he defended popular piety. Tyndale based his spiritual life on the Scriptures, but he permitted religious ceremonies if they were interpreted as signs pointing to Christ.

To conclude, I will compare More's hope for a renewed Christendom with Tyndale's goal of a reformed Christianity. More's ideal church would be an international body under the papacy with few but holy clerics. There would be translations of the Bible in all the modern languages with access controlled by the bishops. Religious images and pilgrimages would be allowed, but the sacraments and the responsibilities of one's state in life would be paramount.

Tyndale's ideal church would be a local congregation in fellowship with other congregations. There would be scholarly translations of the Bible in all the modern languages. The new technology of printing would be directed towards advancing the literacy of all. Religious images and sacraments would be allowed, but their efficacy would depend on proper religious instruction. Gratitude for assurance of salvation would overflow in service of one's neighbor.

Although they were bitter opponents, More and Tyndale both revered the Bible; both had a Christocentic piety; both focussed on the laity. While we cannot reconcile all their differences, I trust that I have shown that it is possible to find grounds of agreement between these two Christian witnesses.

In preparing the critical edition of Tyndale's Answer to More, I estimate that it took the best part of two sabbaticals plus twelve summers. During these years, when "the laboure semed to[o] tediouse and paynfull" (72/9-10), my flagging energies were renewed by the warmth of Tyndale's biblical prose, the support of friends and colleagues, and the anticipation of future readers.

[SLIDE #97, Bronze statue, 1884] Since there is no authentic portrait of Tyndale, I prefer this statue on the Thames of the biblical translator with printing press. I thank Beth Benevides of the CUA Press for all the promotional material she has released using this drawing by Paul Jackson from the Tyndale Society Journal. [Cf. Paul Jackson, "William Tyndale, Victoria Embankment Gardens," Tyndale Society Journal 2 (June 1995) 24-28.] Now that Tyndale's Answer has been published in late May 2000, I can turn my attention to the remaining volumes of The Independent Works of William Tyndale. Ranking third in chronological order, Answer to More will be flanked by Volume 1, the comprehensive Obedience of a Christian Man (1528); Volume 2, the pro-Lutheran Parable of the Wicked Mammon (1528) and the anti-Wolsey Practice of Prelates (1530); Volume 4, the doctrinal Exposition of 1 John (1531) and the pastoral Exposition of Matthew 5, 6, 7 (1533); Volume 5, biblical prefaces and short treatises. With God's help, I aim to supervise the publication of the remaining four volumes in the next ten to twelve years. What Tyndale wished More ironically, I wish the audience sincerely, "good night and good rest" (99/29-30). But for the members of the Tyndale Project, we will continue to work "while it is day" (John 9.4).


(1st ed., London, June 1529; 2nd ed., London, May 1531)

Bk. 1, post-apostolic miracles

Bk. 2. veneration of the saints

Bk. 3, Tyndale on his English translation of the New Testament

Bk. 4, Luther on the bondage of the will

William Tyndale, ANSWER TO MORE (Antwerp, July 1531)

#1, the validity of his translation of the New Testament

#2, the rejection of tradition for sola scriptura

#3, predestination to heaven

#4, the corruption of the papacy

#5, the inferiority of historical faith to feeling faith

#6, the superstition of many religious ceremonies


(Part I, London, Spring 1532)

Bk. 1, the seven sacraments against Tyndale's Obedience (1528)

Bk. 2, Tyndale's New Testament

Bk. 3, Scripture and tradition

(Part II, London, Early 1533)

Bk. 4, grace and free will

Bk. 5, the papacy

Bk. 6, the visible church

Bk. 7, historical faith and feeling faith

Bk. 8, the visible church in the writings of Augustine

Thomas More, ENGLISH WORKS (London, 1557)

fragment of Bk. 9, the visible church

Anne M. O'Donnell, S.N.D. - Washington, D.C. - September 28, 2000