Words “Fitly Spoken”: Tyndale’s English Translation of the Bible


Tyndale, English Translation, Fitly Spoken


William Tyndale (1494–1536), reformer and translator, is the true father of the English Bible. His English translations of the Bible printed in 1526, 1530, and 1534 provided the basis for the King James Translation, and through his translations, Tyndale became one of the founders of the modern English language. In the process of translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into English, Tyndale coined several new English words—transforming older English words or in some cases inventing unique and striking new English words—that have since become central terms in religious discourse. From a study of just a few of these words, we can better understand Tyndale’s genius for language, his methodology, and his theology, and we can gain insight into the complexity of translation. Most important, we can better appreciate the gift Tyndale gave to English speakers: the word of God in our own language. Truly, for Tyndale and for us, “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

Original Publication Citation

“Words ‘Fitly Spoken’: Tyndale’s English Translation of the Bible. Pages 212-27 in Prelude to the Restoration: From Apostasy to the True Church: The 33rd Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium (Salt Lake City/Provo: Deseret Book and BYU Religious Studies Center, 2004).

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Religious Studies Center




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor