A Dialogue between Sir Thomas More and William Tyndale


A dialogue between Sir Thomas More (A man for all Seasons 1478 - 1535 A.D.) and William Tyndale (1494 - 1536 A.D.) - from Transcripts of their debate.
Written by P.K.Odendaal - February 2011

Foreword for all my Dialogues
Note by the Scribe (writer) : This piece was compiled with the latest facts and interpretations of History and the Bible. It is, after all, an unfinished work as the dialogue will only be conducted after the rapture when everyone will know everything, but it is also conceivable that it has already taken place, because there is no clear scripture that says one first has to go to a place of detention before inheriting your prize - be that eternal life or eternal damnation.

In any case, chances are that this would be a very accurate transcription of that dialogue. Part of this is of course speculation.

The intent of this dialogue is to bring the false theories, false statements, frailties and errors of humans to light, whilst confirming the events of the Bible which has stayed true for 3 300 years.
The reason that I have chosen these two characters is that both are the best mankind had to offer in these fields - Sir Thomas More as a man for all seasons and his triumph and failure as a man of the Church and William Tyndale as an exemplary example of a Man of God and of human excellence, resilience and tenacity.
Although I have tried to interpret the Bible and History as accurately as  possible, I have had to use my poetic license to fill in the gaps, but I have not stretched that license unduly. If I have unduly criticised someone, due to my ignorance, I beg their pardon beforehand. I do, however, give them the benefit of the doubt as I am writing this with hindsight which is 20/20 vision, whilst they did this in uncertain times, in doubt, with partial knowledge, in the heat of the moment and some under pressure and duress.
More:       Tyndale!!! What have you done again!!!!
Tyndale:  I can't help it if these other clergymen do not like what I say and do not agree with me.
More :     But John Bell says that you defy the Pope's policy, and as under-treasurer of the Exchequer I want to know what is going on.
Tyndale : Well, I said that the Pope was not the only representative of Christ on earth, but that every believer was.
More :     It seems to me that you are also becoming one of those Reformers who want to change the world. It is not our duty to change the World - it is our duty to serve the Pope! Our King Henry VIII made it clear that he would support the Pope against all these heretics like Martin Luther. You can be glad Pope Leo X died last year, otherwise he would have excommunicated you.         Pope Adrian VI, the last non-Italian Pope for the next 456 years, is busy with the Counter Reformation, and here you are busy undermining him. This is the last time that I will be lenient with you!!!
... somewhat later ...

More :     Bishop Tunstall tells me that you want permission to translate the Bible into English. Where do you come at such outrageous ideas!! You know it is forbidden to translate the Bible into English since 1409 under the Constitutions of Oxford!!!
Tyndale : I feel that God has called me to do this, and I can read and write eight languages. I also obtained the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1512 and the Master of Arts degree in 1515. I also feel that the Bible should be available to all Englishmen in their native tongue, so that they can understand it.
More :     Don't you realise that once we have an English Bible, every peasant will interpret it in his own way and the Pope and our Archbishop of Canterbury and ourselves will have no authority or power over them. I am presently helping our King Henry VIII with a rebuttal against the statements of that ape, drunkard and lousy little friar of a Martin Luther.
               You know that Pope Leo X declared our King as the Defender of the Faith and excommunicated Martin Luther, and I must support our King in this fight against the Reformers and Heretics. We will never allow these Heretics in England.
               Having God's Word available to the public in the language of the common man, English, would mean disaster to the church. No longer will we control access to the scriptures. If people were able to read the Bible in their own tongue, the Church's income and power will crumble. We would not possibly continue to get away with selling indulgences (the forgiveness of sins) or selling the release of loved ones from a church-manufactured "Purgatory". People would begin to challenge the Church's authority if the Church Officials were exposed as frauds and thieves. The contradictions between what God's Word said, and what the priests taught, would open the public's eyes and the truth would set them free from the grip of fear that the institutional church held. Salvation through faith, not works or donations, would be understood. The need for priests would vanish through the priesthood of all believers. The veneration of church-canonized Saints and Mary would be called into question. The availability of the scriptures in English is the biggest threat imaginable to the Catholic church. We will not give up without a fight.
Tindale :  You leave me no choice but to defect to Wittenburg to do it there. I have already told one your clergymen who said : "We had better be without God's laws than the Pope's" that : "I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!"
.... somewhat later ....

More :     Tyndale!!! How do you get these illegal Bible translations into England!!!
Tyndale : I have people who smuggle it in for me by way of wool bales on the ships. You are a bit late to condemn me now, as Bishop Tunstall has already condemned me in October 1526, and issued warnings to booksellers and had copies burned in public.
More :     The King has asked King Charles V to have you apprehended and returned to England. I have also read your a reponse  - An Answer unto Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue - to my rebuttal of Luther, and I have responded thereto with more than a half-million words in the Confutation - written in  the form of a dialogue between you and me - a document thicker than the Bible.
               What I said, in the main, was that you changed the meaning of the Bible in your translation so, that the teaching thereof is false and in line with the belief of these heretics, and it will instigate other heretics to follow suit.
Tyndale : But when King James will publish his version, he will incorporate 70% of my Old Testament translation and 90% of my New testament translation unaltered. Will King James also be a heretic?
               Nevertheless, I will go into hiding in Antwerp or Hamburg and you will never find me. You have no jurisdiction in those Cities.
More :     I hate you with an insatiable hate, you hell-hound in the kennel of the devil!!!! The Pope rules the World and I will get you from anywhere - be it by hook or crook.
Tyndale : You should not hate me. We have so much in common - rather support this effort of mine.
               We were both disdainful of the Middle Ages, eager partisans for the new learning of the Renaissance, opposed the annulment of the King's marriage to Katherine of Arragon, loyal subjects of the King, prepared to defy the King to death, and I have a feeling we both will one day die a martyr's death.
               The King is going to secede from the Catholic Church and he will need an English Bible to use in his newly founded Church of England. I know this. My friend Thomas Cromwell sent Stephen Vaughn to me while I was in hiding in Holland, asking me to retract my heretical opinions and come back to complete the full translation of the Bible into English, but of course I did not trust the King and stayed in exile.
More :     Maybe you forget the fate of John Wycliffe - called the Morning Star of the reformation, although he died a hundred and thirty years before it started -  who translated large parts of the New Testament into English on hand written manuscripts.
               He was exhumed, 31 years after his death, on the orders of Pope Martin V, burned at the stake as a heretic, his bones broken and his ashes scattered in the River Swift.
Tyndale : I do not fear the Pope - I fear God!!!!
..... somewhat later ....

Tyndale : Why have you paid and sent Harry Phillips to betray and abduct me from Antwerp? He was a real conman - who provoked my trust before binding me and delivering me to the Pope. He said you paid him to do it.
               I found him (Phillips) an honest man, handsomely learned and very conformable, so I shared my beliefs and secrets with him, not knowing it was to be the betrayal of the century.
               When he called on me on May 21, I invited him to dine with me with the words : "You shall go with me, and be my guest, where you shall be welcome." As we left the safety of the English House, Phillips insisted with a great show of courtesy that I lead the way. He pointed at me to identify me to the imperial officers he had brought with him from Brussels. The arrest was quiet and easy. The officers said later that they pitied to see my simplicity when they took me.
More :     I wanted to find you and burn you at the stake so that all the water in the world will not be able to quence you. I will stay loyal to the Pope - even if it costs me my life!!!!
               You know I have already, as Lord Chancellor, imprisoned and interrogated Lutherans, sometimes in my own house, and I have sent six reformers to be burned at the stake. Your burning will be the crown of my achievements.
Tyndale : It will one day cost you your life, for as soon as King Henry VIII marries Anne Boleyn, he will inflict on you the death of a traitor, which is known as hang, drawn, and quartered. This means that you will be hanged by the neck (not dropped through a trapdoor, but slowly lifted off your feet) until you lose consciousness, then you will be taken down and revived, then castrated, then disemboweled and your intestines burned in a fire, then you will finally be put out of your misery by beheading, after which your head will be placed on a pike on London Bridge and your body will be cut into four quarters to be sent to four parts of the kingdom and displayed there as a warning against treason.
               And what is more - this fate will befell you even before my death. Beware that you do not fall into the trap you set for me.
More :     There is no way I will be treated like that. I am the Lord Chancellor and if I am to be charged with thwarting the divorce of the King, I will take the way of the coward and just say nothing.
(Note by Scribe : It turned out later that Sir Thomas More was beheaded with an axe only and 15 months later William Tyndale was strangled and burned at the Stake. If one looks at the accomplishments of both these characters one must admit that that of Sir Thomas More certainly was useless and destructible.
Sir Thomas More was, after all, not a Man for All seasons, but only one for the Pope's Last Season in England. The misnomer of Man for All Seasons was just a name the writer of the play by that name gave him, to bring some commercial credibility to a totally misguided man. If there was really A Man for All Seasons, it would certainly have been William Tyndale.
The author of A Man for All Seasons, Robert Bolt, says this in his Preface : Henry VIII found what various voices had urged for centuries, that the supposed Pope was no more than an ordinary Bishop, the Bishop of Rome. This made everything clear and everything possible. If the Pope was not a Pope at all, but merely a Bishop among Bishops, then his special powers as Pope did not exist. In particular, of course, he had no power to dispense with God's rulings in Leviticus 18, but equally important, he had no power to appoint other Bishops.
For if the Pope had not the power to appoint Bishops, then who did have, if not the King himself - the King by the Grace of God. Henry's ancestors, all those other Henrys, had been absolutely right; the Bishops of Rome. without a shadow of legality, had succeeded over the centuries in setting up a rival reign within the reign, a sort of long drawn usurpation.
Many wars were fought, just because of this usurping of the power of Kings by the Pope - but that is another dialogue.)      

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