Fire in the Bones, S. Michael Wilcox

Posted: June 19, 2014 in Book Reviews, Uncategorized
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Fire in the Bones: William Tyndale - Martyr, Father of the English BibleFire in the Bones: William Tyndale – Martyr, Father of the English Bible by S. Michael Wilcox

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Fire in the Bones, Wilcox presents a brief, readable account of William Tyndale’s experience in making the first English translation of the Bible. As an LDS scholar, Wilcox draws occasional parallels between and connections with Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the LDS Church. This may enhance the reading of those interested in these areas. It would be a shame, however, if readers interested in the book solely as a history of William Tyndale, the Bible, and the Reformation, or even the political climate in Western Europe during the 1500s allowed these references to interfere with the enjoyment and information available in this book. None of these subjects (LDS or otherwise) are treated exhaustively; each is addressed as it pertains to Tyndale’s efforts to give common English readers a Bible from which they could seek knowledge of God for themselves.

Early in Tyndale’s endeavors, he made the audacious assertion: “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the scripture than thou dost.” This was his response when discussing with “a learned man” the Catholic Church’s positions that English was a language unworthy of Biblical translation and that easy access to scripture would provide too great an opportunity for doctrinal corruption. While there is no avoiding the tension between Catholicism and Lutheranism, and the varied positions of reformers within each camp, Wilcox does a good job of not vilifying the Catholicism. Considering the point of view he takes, that of a proponent of Tyndale, this is not an easy task. Wilcox tends to focus on individuals, sticking to the facts rather than searching out and ascribing dubious motives. He does discuss tenets of the religions and contentions that existed at the time, but he avoids making judgment calls on the veracity of either Catholic or Protestant belief systems.

Wilcox skillfully renders a picture of the life and times of Tyndale, opening the reader’s eyes a little more to the complexity of the political atmosphere in the 1500s. I found myself better informed not only about the generation of the English-language Bible and William Tyndale (and others involved in his efforts) but also of the foundations of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the development of the English Language, English history, and the history and beliefs of Catholicism and Protestantism.

For those interested in further reading, Wilcox provides a 2-1/2 page Bibliography.

View all my reviews

  1. Carl and Carol Cornwall says:

    I loved this book. Carl read it and really like it, too.  He actually read the whole book and comments on it often.

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