1st January 2005
Editing this issue of the Journal could be described as a deluxe version of Tyndale’s wanderings. I have been frantically clutching computer, papers and books on planes, trains and in taxis from Switzerland, to America, to England and to Turkey. Once out of my sight they might never surface again! I do not suppose in my case I was spied on and probably none of the staff in the various hotels and conference centres were avid readers of English manuscripts and email messages. They seemed content merely to plug the vacuum cleaner into my computer’s lifeline, giving it a regular matinal heart attack.
Had one of them been the modern equivalent of Henry Phillips and browsed through my emails she probably would have concluded that either I was not quite sane or that the code was too sophisticated to bother about. Nonetheless if she had persisted she would have read such message titles as Postcard from Vienna, What do you expect?, Juan Diaz horror proofing, Invitation to a disputation, The Spirit of Vehement Theological Controversy is not dead, Tyndale is relevant, Not for Publication, Tea Towel, Anne Boleyn – please amend file, Unicorn, A painful editorial decision, A Time of Fire, Martin Luther escapes from the Flames, Devil’s Words – the Battle for an English Bible, Let it go among our people, Reformation, Obedience of a Christian Man, Consuming the sandwiches in Hertford, Tyndale Snap, How did they talk in Tyndale’s day?, Where are you? Tyndale Society Matters.
If the said chambermaid had been the one in Istanbul the message headed Postcard from Vienna could have immediately resulted in deep suspicion and an urgent call to her minders. Which historically minded Turk could or would forget the unsuccessful siege of Vienna in 1529? Poor old Tyndale had it much harder as the print workshop cleaning lady (editor’s poetic licence!) tipped off the authorities in Cologne that he had an English version of the Bible on a press there.
Well, in the words of the email what do you expect? The correct answer is a Journal full of information directly or sometimes rather tenuously linked to Tyndale. It never ceases to amaze me how the articles and the information continue to flow in. Possibly it could be a question of how long it takes to turn any subject round to one dear to one’s heart but it does seem that Tyndale truly has a higher profile than, say, 15 years ago.
The lead article for this issue is the keynote address entitled The Parables in America which was delivered by Prof. David Daniell at the Tyndale Conference in Virginia this past September. It represents an interesting new slant on the themes we have heard our chairman write and speak about over many years. Neil Inglis’ trailer for his forthcoming book review in the August issue of the Journal is entitled Family Treachery – the Tale of Juan Diaz. For reasons unconnected with its excellent content it was not the editor’s choice of the month as is reflected in the email Juan Diaz horror proofing! Nonetheless, it is a tale worth repeating as it has many parallels with Tyndale’s experiences.
The Lambeth lecturer, Stephen Green, generously allowed Eunice Burton to compile her report from his script. The questions afterwards were really used as an invitation to a disputation and had to be cut short by the Archbishop of Canterbury who took the chair that evening. Concerning the other annual autumn events, David Smith was kind enough to write a summary of his talk on the Berkeley Castle Muniments which he gave at Gloucester Cathedral, and the Hertford lecture by the Rev. Prof. Simon Oliver entitled Tyndale’s Theology is to be published in Reformation, so we shall have to wait before affirming that the spirit of theological controversy is not dead.
In Letters to the Editor Robert Mansbridge writes to assure us that Tyndale is relevant in his local church in Connecticut. Your letters are appreciated even if the writers sometimes take the precaution of announcing that they are not for publication. For this issue you have even inspired me to start a new section entitled Tyndale Sightings. If any reader feels able to take over the task of compiling it I should be more than happy to hand it over. Your response to a similar plea for book reviewers has encouraged me to feel that I will get a volunteer! Our team this time includes David Daniell, Robin Everitt and a welcome newcomer, Dr Tim Thornton, who has reviewed Eric Ives’ updated version of The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn. At present publishers seem very happy to supply review copies allied to our interests so please continue to contact me with your offers and suggestions.
North America is on the move. Yes – a Unicorn really did feature on the programme of the Tyndale Conference The Bible as Battleground: The impact of the English Bible in America held at Virginia Beach in September 2004. A painful editorial decision was taken to publish only abstracts of most of the papers given. If you were unable to attend this event do not despair, the Fourth Oxford Tyndale Conference Opening the Word to the World is to take place in September 2005 and there is still time to come to that and even to submit a short paper.
Press Gleanings seems mainly to involve Bibles although Sir Thomas More does also feature. Martin Luther escapes from the flames was the surreal dramatic message sent from my Washington collaborator, Neil Inglis, for this section. Had I slipped into a time warp? Fortunately no – it was referring to Luther’s Bible which had been rescued, along with other priceless books and manuscripts, from a fire at the library in Weimar, Germany, earlier in the year.
Our Ploughboy convenor, David Ireson, writes in his article The role of Ploughboys of the modern Reformation we are undergoing and also encourages everyone to participate in the coming Tyndale events. Brian Johnson’s plea for help indicates that some ploughboys are busily engaged in a new publication. I can only think that the mysterious email message consuming the sandwiches in Hertford relates to the Publications Committee (of which Brian is a member) now meeting regularly and constructively under the calm chairmanship of Peter Clifford – the college does provide us with a delicious sandwich lunch!
I warmly thank all contributors to this issue and particularly value the positive response to my every request by the American office staffed by Jennifer Bekemeier. As always I have been ably supported by my in-house computer technician, Robin Offord, my unflappable publisher Paul Barron and my meticulous comma-adjusting editorial assistant, Judith Munzinger. The latter’s plaintive plea where are you? made me realise that an assistant’s life can at times be very stressful!
Remember that the Journal relies on you the members to contribute and acts as your communication forum. Please do not hesitate to send articles, ideas, requests, reviews, and reports. Yes indeed – the Tyndale Society Matters and in the words of the Epiphany hymn composed by the Rev. Lawrence Tuttiett in 1864
Father, let us dedicate all this year to Thee,
In whatever worldly state Thou wilt have us be.